Ohio County Engineers

History of the County Engineer*

The office of County Engineer evolved from the important role played by the County Surveyor in the first decades of Ohio's statehood.  Surveys of the territory that became Ohio began in 1785 using the not fully developed Public Land Survey System.  The resulting patchwork of surveys spawned numerous title and boundary disputes.  When Ohio entered the Union the state legislature created the office of the County Surveyor and charged it with, among other things, clarifying survey information to settle land disputes. 

Although originally established as an office appointed by the Court of Common Pleas, the legislature voted to make it an elected position in 1831.  To this day Ohio is the only State that elects its county engineer. 

As the canal and road systems expanded County Surveyors became increasingly involved in transportation related projects.  In 1906 the legislature tweaked the  duties of the county surveyor tasking them with acting as engineer on projects involving the transportation system.  In 1935, the title was changed to County Engineer reflecting the shift in duties.

Ohio has the most rigorous standards in the United States for qualifying its Professional County Engineers.  In order to be eligible to hold this elected office one must be fully licensed as both a "Registered Professional Engineer" and a "Registered Professional Surveyor".  Details of obtaining these licenses are below.  The average County Engineer in the State of Ohio has over 20 years experience in both fields.

*Information was obtained from "Catalog Record: Inventory of the county archives of Ohio." HathiTrust Digital Library. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017. and The National Atlas of the United States of America. "Article." The Public Land Survey System (PLSS). N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.


Elected to a four-year term, the County Engineer in Ohio is sworn to "perform for the county all duties authorized or declared by law to be done by a civil engineer or surveyor". Although exempt from engineering duties for public buildings, the County Engineer is the engineer for all public improvements under the authority of the Board of Commissioners.  Commissioners may designate the County Engineer to create and maintain tax maps which show every parcel of land and property owner as described in the county deed records. These maps are used by the County Auditor for property tax purposes.

The County Engineer utilizes Gasoline Taxes, Vehicle Registration Fees and grants to maintain roads and bridges on the county highway system.  Additionally, any bridge on a township road is also the responsibility of the County Engineer. The definition of a bridge is a structure that has a span of 10' or greater. Each bridge that falls under the charge of the County Engineer is inspected and evaluated as to condition and load bearing capacity annually.

The County Engineer is obligated to file several types of reports.  Bridge condition reports are filed with the Ohio Department of Transportation annually.  A summary of all work completed and projects planned is filed with the County Commissioners annually.  Reports related to the progress and completion of grant funded projects are filed as needed.

The County Engineer serves as a consultant to the Township Trustees for their road maintenance programs.

To maintain his dual licensures as both a professional engineer and professional surveyor the Ohio County Engineer must take 15 hours of Professional Development hours each year.


To be a County Engineer the person must be a registered professional engineer and a registered surveyor, licensed to practice in Ohio.  Below are the steps required to gain these licenses.

Professional Engineer

  • Graduate from an accredited engineering curriculum of four years or more
  • Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES).
  • Complete four years or more of approved practical experience in engineering work. *Eight years is required if engineering curricula was not ABET accredited.
  • Pass the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam administered by the NCEES.

 Professional Surveyor

  • Graduate from an approved curriculum in surveying or civil engineering of four years or more. *Engineering degree holders must complete at least 16 semester hours of approved surveying courses.
  • Pass the Fundamentals of Surveying exam administered by the NCEES.
  • Complete four years or more of approved practical experience in surveying work to include at least two years of work under the direct supervision of a Professional Surveyor in the surveying of land boundaries.
  • Pass the Principles and Practices of Surveying exam administered by the NCEES.

Published on  June 28th, 2018