How to Become a Hydrographic Surveyor

If you have completed your secondary education or if you are deciding on a career change, then you might consider a surveying career in hydrography. There are two ways to become a certified hydrographic surveyor.

The first path to consider is hydrographic surveying studies through university.

The second path is to complete a specialist hydrographic or hydrographic post graduate training course that is recognised by International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), through the International Board on Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors and Nautical Cartographers (IBSC).

Both options require field experience in order to reach a certain level of competence. Regardless of which path you chose, once you have specialised and have completed your field experience you can then apply for professional certification.

Why is field work important?

Whether you study hydrography at university or whether you specialise as a hydrographic surveyor through the Royal Australian Navy or Royal New Zealand Navy, once you graduate you will need to undertake a number of years in the field to consolidate your hydrographic knowledge and to obtain the necessary practical experience as a hydrographic surveyor.


Once you have this field experience you can apply through the Australasian Hydrographic Surveyors Certification Panel (AHSCP) for certification as a professional hydrographic surveyor (Level 1 or level 2). For more information regarding certification as a hydrographic surveyor please refer to the Survey and Spatial Science (SSSI) Hydrography Commissions certification webpage.

What are the chances of getting a job and in what spatial areas does hydrography contribute to?

The current economic future is very positive for graduates/post graduates of hydrographic surveying; these skills are in high demand. The shortage of skilled hydrographic personnel is a global problem and there are plenty of jobs in a range of areas. Since hydrographic surveying remains a core factor in maritime developments, coastal zone management and maritime trade, career opportunities exist in various marine-related fields, industries and companies.

In countries where oil and gas exploration is extensively done offshore, the hydrographic surveyor has unlimited opportunities in the oil and gas industry. Combined with high oil prices there is a stimulus to facilitate innovation within the field of hydrographic surveying. Software and equipment development is taking place that has provided new career opportunities in less traditional markets, such as deep-water projects and ecological studies.

Employment of surveyors is projected to grow 18 percent from 2012 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for many other occupations. The high demand means it can be relatively easy to get a job, with 95% of students reporting finding work within four months after graduating.

As demand rises, so too would you expect the reward. A career in surveying can be very satisfying and the economic situation and technological developments makes this spatial discipline very appealing as well as professionally rewarding.

What salary can I expect to receive as a hydrographic surveyor?

The vast majority of qualified hydrographic surveyors with the relevant field and professional experience earn an annual salary ranging from $75 - $100k.

Depending on your experience and your role and responsibilities, there is the potential to earn a higher salary in excess of $100k.

Source: HCNC Pay and Conditions Survey 2012

Who can help me if I have any questions regarding the path to becoming a hydrographic surveyor?

For more information on the process to follow to become a hydrographic surveyor please contact any member of the Hydrography Commission National Committee or email your enquiry to the Hydrography Commission Chair.

Latest Hydrography News

Hydrography News – June 2020

Hydrography News – June 2020

Please find below information on the Hydrography Commission as of June 2020.

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SSSI signs MOU with AHS

SSSI signs MOU with AHS

SSSI signs important Memorandum of Understanding with the Australasian Hydrographic Society.

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SSSI Hydrography Commission News – May 2020

SSSI Hydrography Commission News – May 2020

Please find below information on the Hydrography Commission as of May 2020.

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