Becoming a Surveyor Worldwide


Sarah Clark, a Surveying Recruiter from Australia, Katie Holt at Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), James Gibbs owner of Geospatial Jobs, Antony Pritchard UK Surveyor at Storm Geomatics, and Ryan Swingley Surveyor from the USA give their advice on the different entry ways into this industry, from the choices you make at school, to getting your first job.


Extra Curricular: Gaining work experience is one of the most important things you can do. Not only does this show how keen you are to learn the skills needed for the job, it also tells you if the career is what you expected, which at this point you could alter your career path to suit something that is more suited to you.


If work experience isn’t an option for you, volunteering certainly is. Volunteering not only looks good on your CV, but it helps you get a grounding and gaining life skills. It does not have to be within the industry, any volunteering is valuable.


There are a wide variety of sectors and routes to go down in this industry. Nicely demonstrated in this image:

A great representation by Geospatial Jobs showing which sectors the Geospatial Graduates of today want to go into. There are so many options within each of these sectors too. Lots to explore and grow with as you gain more experience and opportunities. Further specialisation can be made with further qualifications for career progression.


Challenges in recruitment in the sector: It is clear from the ongoing needs of the construction industry that there will be a significant shortfall in the number of suitably qualified individuals to take up post in organisations working on the huge infrastructure projects that the UK will be embarking on over the next 10 to 20 years. The shortfall in construction skills is mirrored in the supporting geospatial profession which provide the foundations to most of these projects so play a critical role.


“Both the University of East London and Newcastle University have seen a long-term trend of falling numbers of students applying to study specialist geospatial degree courses. The Design Engineer Construct! curriculum, which features geospatial engineering, has had its parity with GCSEs and A levels removed by the Department for Education, making it less viable for schools to offer”.

Solutions to the Challenges: The Industrial Strategy: Construction Sector Deal published in July 2018 refers to the investment of an additional £406m in maths, digital and technical education, helping to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills. Which will be a big boost to the geospatial industry as we are very much included in this and the digital aspect.


Kids often do not have the understanding of what the geospatial industry is. With a lack of applied activities in school even though they are learning the content. The major problem is that teachers, parents and the children do not know the career options available or the possible high earnings for those professionals that come with it. As mentioned previously the Design Engineer Construct is here to try and teach more about the opportunities within the industry to secondary school ages. In lower years Get Kids into Survey is trying to expose the industry in a fun way, including it in posters which are branching out into Q&A’s and lesson plans too. Schools are encouraged to have geospatial engineers and survey firms to come in to deliver assemblies and regularly engage with the kids. Lastly, the Adopt a School programme from Class of Your Own partners construction firms (including geospatial engineering businesses) with schools and offers site visit opportunities and hands-on demonstrations of geospatial equipment and software.


In the Geospatial Engineering Education report the Geospatial Commission are provided with a list of proposed changes and targets in order to help the industry progress. Some of these suggestions include: ensuring long term funding is available for more apprenticeship based learning, geospatial academia and research bodies are asked to work with industry and professional bodies to ensure opportunities are present to everyone, Geospatial academia and industry and professional bodies are asked to improve liaison with STEAM and geography teachers, and that careers information is available from a young age.


Advice for current students:


How do you ensure a job is right for you?

Sarah Clarke says, “Knowing if a job is right for you is such a circumstantial question, I think. In my opinion, the most important thing is that you be interested in the core of the role. For me, it’s chatting with people/socialising, for surveyors, it may be geography, or math, or being outdoors. Surveying can see you in the middle of the bush, or on top of a 28-story high rise in the city, or hundreds of metres underground; this is great, because there’s a branch for almost everyone. But you have to be excited, and love what you do”


Katie Holt explains, “There are lots of exciting career choices in surveying – you could be involved in construction and helping to make sure projects are built correctly, in the right place or you could be using drones, laser scanners and other instruments to produce plans and maps of areas. There are plenty of opportunities for varied work and travel within your country and overseas.”


James Gibbs, owner of Geospatial Jobs, highlights several key messages from geospatial experts:

  • Curiosity is key… ask those questions, dig deeper and make connections. The more you show genuine interest and willingness to learn the further you will go.

  • Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, which leads to never ending opportunities where the only limit is your imagination! Especially in recent years the development of tools used in space, collecting data through environmental observations, navigation and communications.

  • Don’t be afraid to question how and why things are done in a certain way. New ideas come from new perspectives, that might just happen to be you!

  • Your first job doesn’t need to be your final job. You are free to follow your interests when different and new opportunities present themselves.


This blog was adapted from Get Kids into Survey (Nov 2020) Getting into a Geospatial Career.

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