At the age of 14, the young Sandford was learning the basic principles of his future occupation. He worked in surveyor John Sang's workshop from 8 AM to 6 PM, then spent the evening practicing what he had learned and fashioning work instruments.
John Sang taught him the technical and scientific principles and processes needed by surveyors and engineers. He also allowed him to take part in the surveying of Scottish railway routes, which were being developed at the time. At a very young age, Sandford Fleming found that his life was already intertwined with the growth of the railway industry.