Master Text Options

It’s wise to decide on a survey “master text” early on. Any of the following textbooks would make excellent additions to your technical library provided a print copy is available.

We most often recommend “Elementary Surveying: An Introduction to Geomatics“, now offered in its 16th edition via Pearson. As of late 2023, you may purchase access to an eTextbook and/or rental copy for $10.99 monthly. Pearson may offer discounts for groups. Printed copies are available for roughly $149 (loose leaf, three hole punched pages) to $208 (hardcover). Additional digital access options are available.

If you can locate a print copy, the 15th edition of “Elementary Surveying: An Introduction to Geomatics” remains completely viable for CST exam purposes. Used and new print copies come available from time to time, ranging from $75 to $250. It’s worth checking Amazon or other online retailers if you’re interested in this edition. The 14th edition is also relevant if you’re unable to locate a later edition.

Whether or not you can procure a copy of “Elementary Surveying”, we advise you to download a free digital copy “Surveying and Mapping“(Creative Commons license, 1st Edition, 2021) courtesy of Tiberius, Christian. et al. This groundbreaking collegiate level “open-source” surveying text was made available courtesy of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Numerous other surveying textbooks are available and worthwhile from a study perspective. Additional options include:

Barry Kavanaugh’s “Surveying Principles and Applications“, most recently available in it’s 9th edition from Pearson, is available in similar digital fashion, beginning at $10.99 monthly, on up to $181.32 for a new printed copy. Used and alternate run copies are frequently available via Amazon and/or other used booksellers.

Dewberry’s “Land Development Handbook: A Practical Guide to Planning, Engineering, and Surveying“, now in its 4th edition, is billed as “The definitive guide to land development―fully updated to cover the latest industry advances.” Print copies are generally available from $100-$150.

PPI’s “Surveyor Reference Manual“, now in its 7th edition, is promoted as a “Complete Reference Manual for the PS and FS Exam”. 492 page paperback copies usually come in around $200 with hardcover versions available.

Those on the field track (especially those that intend to specialize in boundary) should consider Wilson, Nettleman III and Robillard’s quintessential “Evidence and Procedures for Boundary Location“, also in its 7th Edition. Hardcover copies are generally available for $100.

Yet another selection for those on the field or boundary track should consider Curtis Brown’s “Boundary Control and Legal Principles“, now in its 7th edition, courtesy of Robillard and Wilson. 560 page hardcover copies are generally available for $100. An updated 8th edition is expected in December 2023.

If you’re not comfortable purchasing a new or used “master text”, we advise you to seek out rental or loaner options. Many employers will assist with loaner copies and you can even arrange to have a shared “library table” during exam day if you’re part of a large group. With that said, nothing will substitute owning a high-end, professional textbook if you’re intent on learning the art and science of land surveying.

On the following page, we’ll review a handful of supplementary text options that are “must-haves”, come exam day.