Hydrographic Surveyor

hat work is involved?

  Working as a hydrographic or marine surveyor, you would be concerned with mapping the vast expanse of the earth's surface that is underwater. You might measure and chart the seabed or survey underwater for mineral resources, gas and oil deposits. You could get involved with land reclamation schemes, with dredging or with defining international boundaries. You might also survey ports, oceans, channels and inland waterways.
  Another area in which you could become involved is the search for hazards to shipping, such as rocks or wrecks, strong currents and tides. You would be likely to use advanced technological equipment, including sonar scanning, to obtain information about the seabed and aerial or satellite photography for mapping and charting. In common with all measurement at sea, precise positioning is essential and you would use a range of systems, from lasers for short-range, very high accuracy work to global satellite navigation systems for positioning throughout the world's oceans.
  Most of the processing and presentation of the data collected at sea is undertaken using computers. In many cases survey data can be processed on board ship, providing immediate access to the end product charts and maps. Certain types of survey data processing would require access to large computing resources and very elaborate processing software.

pportunities for training

  You would normally train on the job in areas such as seamanship and instrument handling. Before working offshore, you must usually undertake a basic offshore safety and emergency training course. This usually includes fire fighting, helicopter underwater escape training, first aid and safety at sea.
  For chartered membership of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), completion of an accredited degree or postgraduate qualification and a minimum of two years' planned training and experience are required for the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). Graduates with non RICS-accredited degrees need to complete an additional period of training and experience to meet the requirements of the APC.
  There is also a Royal Navy entry route, with training available at the Flag Officer Sea Training Hydrography and Meteorology (FOST HM) School in Devonport.

equirements for entry

  You would normally need three A level/Advanced Higher, four Higher or equivalent qualifications to enter an accredited degree in a surveying discipline, together with five GCSE/S Grade passes 9-4/A*-C/1-3, including English and maths.
  You would find it helpful to have a driving licence and RYA powerboat qualifications.

ind of person

  You would need to be quite technically minded in order to operate and understand all the sophisticated equipment involved. The use of computers is also an important aspect of this work. You would need to be physically robust and able to cope with being at sea in all kinds of weather. You may be out on a boat for extended periods of time.
  Whilst some of your time would be spent out on location, you would also need to be prepared to work in an office, usually with a computer, analysing data and writing up and explaining the results of your surveys. You are likely to be part of a team and at times this could be an international team of professionals. As you may be working in confined conditions on a boat for several days at a time, you would need to be tolerant of others.

road outlook for the future

  Many of the opportunities in the private sector are associated with the offshore oil and gas industry, which is exploring ever-deeper waters for hydrocarbon reserves, and there are a number of specialist marine survey companies. Many of the companies and organisations concerned with marine survey operate on a worldwide basis. The Royal Navy recruits graduates as Hydrography, Meteorology and Oceanography Warfare Officers.
  With considerable experience, you could set up your own freelance consultancy and bid for survey contracts all over the world.

elated occupations

  You might be interested in another specialist career in surveying, such as minerals surveyor or land/geomatics surveyor, or in another career involving the sea, such as hydrogeologist, oceanographer or marine biologist/marine scientist. Alternatively, you might consider a career as a Royal Navy/Royal Marines Officer, cartographer, geochemist, geologist, geophysicist or meteorologist.

mpact on lifestyle

  You would need to be prepared to work at sea in hostile environments when the weather is rough, or even when it is extremely hot. You are likely to have to spend extended periods of time away from home, which could sometimes make family and social life difficult.

arnings potential

  A typical graduate starting salary would be around £18,000 to £25,000, plus an allowance of £70 to £110 for each day spent offshore. In a full year, you would spend between 140 and 180 days at sea, earning an additional £10,000 to £17,000. The base salary for a party chief is around £40,000, with £100 to £170 for every day offshore, which is usually around 150 days per year, so earning potential could reach around £70,000. If you choose to join the Royal Navy as a hydrographic surveyor, your salary would be set by the normal officer pay scales. Sub-lieutenants currently receive £31,741 to £34,180, rising to £40,690 to £47,127 for lieutenants. Salaries rise significantly on further promotion and officers receive additional allowances for such things as flying, serving in submarines or being at sea. A Captain currently earns £84,878 to £93,304.

urther information/valuable websites

  Hydrographic Society
  Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  Society for Underwater Technology
  International Federation of Hydrographic Societies
  Royal Navy Careers
  Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland