Introduction to Surveying and Leveling

Students learn surveying with equipment

Please note: The spring 2024 session has been canceled. Information about future sessions will be posted as it becomes available.

About the Course

This hybrid course introduces land surveying, which allows us to determine the location of points or objects in space. Simple or differential leveling is conducted by placing a leveling instrument between points whose elevation is to be determined and a point of known elevation. Leveling rods are placed at the point of unknown elevation and sighted through the leveling instrument.

Students will learn about the equipment, procedures, and note-taking required to conduct both a simple level loop and to determine side-shot elevations of any points in the area. 

Course Requirements

Students must complete the required online self-paced coursework prior to the field lab workshop. 

All students will need to use their own (agency-supplied) survey equipment and must bring the following to the in-person field lab workshop:

  • Differential level
  • Tripod
  • Level rod

Course Objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Set up a survey tripod
  • Operate a differential level
  • Read a survey rod
  • Record and reduce level notes
  • Determine the elevatioin of unknown points using a differential level

Who Should Attend

This course is meant for public agency personnel or anyone interested in learning the basics of land surveying and differential leveling. It is designed for anyone who performs construction inspection or civil design data collection. The techniques covered are applicable for field data collection for roadway or civil design, construction inspection, and sewer installation and construction.

Course Instructors

Eric Johnson has most recently worked as a construction inspector for Professional Engineering Services. Over the last 20 years, Eric has served as an inspector on many local municipal projects, including the Guthrie Theater, Target Field, Highway 212, the Central Corridor and Southwest Corridor Light Rail projects, the 35E MnPASS project, Highway 610, various Metropolitan Council sewer rehab projects, and the Saint Paul Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant renovation. He carries multiple MnDOT inspection certifications as well as the national CIPP inspection certification through NASSCO. Eric is a 1993 graduate of the University of Wisconsin−Eau Claire with a BA in secondary English education.

Ted Johnson has taught classes for MnDOT as part of ADA training and in the MnDOT Technical Certification Program. He’s worked extensively for MnDOT for the last 15 years and is currently a grading inspector on the Highway 14 Expansion Design Build. Ted spent the first part of his career as a high school teacher, teaching art and industrial education. He has a degree in secondary education.

Online Coursework Access and Technical Requirements

A portion of this training is offered via the course management system Canvas. Upon completing your online registration, you will receive an email confirmation. To access the course, please visit Canvas and log in with your University of Minnesota internet ID and password. Once you have been enrolled, your course will appear on your Canvas dashboard.

If for any reason you do not have access to the course after enrolling, please contact Katherine Stanley at for assistance.

Because it's built using web standards, Canvas runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, or any other device with a modern web browser. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer work best for this course.



This workshop is presented by Minnesota LTAP at the Center for Transportation StudiesUniversity of Minnesota. Minnesota LTAP is sponsored by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This course is subsidized through funding from LRRB and FHWA.