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Hydrographic surveyor

Hydrographic surveyors measure and map the world’s underwater surfaces and study the construction of the seabed.

Average salary*




How to become a hydrographic surveyor

Most people complete a degree in surveying accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). When considering which degree to choose, subjects such as hydrographic surveying, marine sciences, civil engineering and land surveying may be useful.

To get onto a degree course, you typically need at least four GCSEs (grades A to C) or equivalent, and two A-levels (or equivalent such as Scottish Highers or the Welsh Baccalaureate). Maths and IT skills are essential. If you have a degree in another subject like geography, you could do a post graduate course in hydrographic surveying or geomatics.

Some people also enter the profession through a military career, especially through the Royal Navy.

If you want to become chartered, you need to complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence, which requires two years of on the job training. There is also an NVQ Level 4 in Spatial Data Management available.

To work offshore you must pass a medical examination every 2 years. You must also pass an offshore survival course such as the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate (BOSIET).

What does a hydrographic surveyor do?

  • Working together with planners, ecologists and civil engineers to monitor and protect the environment
  • Usually work for government organisations, oil companies, private research groups and shipping companies.
  • Graduate marine surveyors explore and use marine resources in an ethical and sustainable way
  • Hydrographic Surveyors work study inland waters and rivers, or ports and oceans 
  • Using specialised technical equipment to collect data for nautical charts and maps
  • Providing reports/ Managing data/ Answering technical queries
  • Producing accurate and reliable information to provide to industries such as Oil, gas and mineral exploration, Dredging , Coastal work, Seabed telephone cables, Pipelines, Environmental monitoring, Aquaculture (underwater farming) and Oceanographic (sea geography) research.
  • Collecting information about the type of seabed along with the movement of water and waves
  • Exact working hours are often ruled by tides, daylight and the weather. In the UK offshore work tends to be between April and October, with the winter used for training and taking the holiday earned during the busiest months


  • Newly trained hydrographic surveyors can earn in the region of £17,000 - £25,000
  • Trained with experience hydrographic surveyors can earn in the region of £25,000 - £45,000
  • Senior, chartered or master hydrographic surveyors can earn in the region of £45,000 - £60,000

Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility, and salaries and career options can improve with chartered status.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Check out the latest Hydrographic Surveyor vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary. 

Check daily to see new opportunities as they are posted!

Progression Opportunities

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