Tony, in my small town of about 11,000 year round folks we have 4 land surveyors working full time. One is a medium sized engineering firm, and the other three, including me, are small operations. The neighboring town has 5 engineering firms working full time, more or less. We all cover Cape Cod and the Islands and portions of south eastern Mass.
I have been listening to the cry of " no new surveyors are coming in to the profession" for the last 30 years and still have not felt an impact of a shortage.
How many is enough? Only the market can answer that question.
As I imagine is happening everywhere, all of the survey firms in my area have significantly downsized over the last two years and are struggling to keep busy. I realize this will not last forever, but it is going to be a long slow climb back to stability.
On the subject of this thread, perhaps this apparently nationwide call for concern over not enough surveyors is the wrong question. I have long thought we would be better served if the focus was on a few other subjects, such as:
Evolving/adapting the profession, maybe the even the definition of the profession, in the face of every changing and advancing meausurment and mapping technologies. When is it Surveying? What is the definition of topographic mapping and when does it require an LS? Machine control? DTM's? For just a few examples?
Education. How do we insure future surveyors understand the technology they are using? Where are they going to learn how a least squares adjustment actually works, and how it works compared to a transit rule or compass rule? Coordinate transformations? GPS to state plane, GPS to local, what are the different methods of transformations and when to use what? Error analysis and adjustment with both GPS and total station data? The technology is too complex to learn from on the job training anymore. If we just push the buttons and get the answers, without fully understanding how we got them, who are we to say everyone else can't push those same buttons?
For a short anecdote, several years ago at a local association chapter meeting we had a law enfocement guest. His presentation was the use of a total station for mapping traffic accident and crime scenes. A couple of his statements have stuck with me. The first was, they were not surveying as they were not measuring nearly as accurately as surveyors do. A bit later he was describing how they used the total station to measure bullet entry and exit holes on the walls of a crime scene to determine the location of the shooter. The questions I have always had after that are 1. Who exactly determines what accuracy level constitutes surveying? 2. Is not measuring the location of skid marks, guard rails, overpasses, signposts etc, in relationship to each other topograhpic surveying?; 3. How do you state you are not measuring accurately enough for it to be called surveying on the one hand, then state you are measuring bullet holes to within a few milimeters on the other?
Okay, hopefully just food for thought. IMHO, it is not quantity, but quality, and what exactly is our profession? Or, what do we want it to be? Now and in the future.
The problem is not that there are too many, it is that there are far too few actually in the field.