Getting into a Geospatial Career


If you imagine your younger self thinking of what you wanted to be when you were older, didn’t it seem like such a daunting task? What do I want to spend the rest of my life doing? Do I choose something that pays well or something that I enjoy? A safe 9-5 office job or take a risk and work for myself? Will it be too stressful? Will I be any good? What if I’m not successful. Can I change my decision later? These are all possible questions that you ask yourself.


No matter what we do, we are always going to have these worries about career choices. However, if you are more exposed to different career options and pathways at a younger age, you might not be so worried about making yourself fit the mould.


We want to show you a multitude of careers that not even your parents may know exist! That is the exciting thing - there is something for everyone and we just want you to know that you don’t ‘have’ to fit the mould. You can make your own path, we just have to give you the tools and the exposure to different industries not showcased in the public eye. As they say, ‘knowledge is power’.


We have put together this document with the help of Sarah Clark a Surveying Recruiter from Australia, James Gibbs owner of Geospatial Jobs, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Katie Holt at Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES) with their research ‘State of Geospatial Engineering Education’, Antony Pritchard UK Surveyor at Storm Geomatics, and Ryan Swingley Surveyor from the USA. Collaborating our knowledge to try and show you the different entry ways into this industry, from the choices you make at school, to getting your first job.

Becoming a Surveyor in the UK


Understanding the Basics

To become a surveyor you’ll usually need a professional qualification approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), CICES, ABET or equivalent. In the UK you do not have to be a member of either however, this may limit what you can do and who you can work for. Full members of RICS call themselves chartered surveyors and are generally more property based. In comparison to being a member of CICES which is more engineering surveying and commercial management. If this is the route you would like to go down, that can be followed by applying to be a chartered engineer through the Engineering Council.


To become a Chartered Surveyor whether you’ve just come out of university or you’ve been working with a company, are required to take an Assessment of Professional Competence. There is another assessment to take before this to become an Associate which is the entry-level RICS qualification and offers the chance to progress to full chartered status. More information on becoming chartered here. There are multiple levels to CICES membership, with the two main professional grades being Technical member (TCInstCES) and Member (MCInstCES). For a more detailed descriptions of all the options look here.


Lower School Options (pre 18): Usually to get into higher education you’ll need 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent. Subject choice is important even at this early stage and can help with the understandings of the basics. Good choices include:

  • Maths- with a maths extension if you can.

  • Economics

  • Geography

  • Geology

  • Physics

Design Engineer Construct! is a secondary school aimed accredited learning programme by Class of your Own. The result is having young people with real-world practical experience and employability skills. So being involved in projects like this will definitely help build up your skills if this is something your school can get behind. If you are a teacher and interested in applying this to your school then check out this link.


University: “If the university lifestyle appeals to you and you want to study a subject leading to a fast-paced, high-tech career, then a surveying-related degree could be ideal for you.

There are more than 300 courses in the UK alone, so there’s a surveying course suited for you – no matter where you want to study or what your career ambitions are” (RICS). They could include:

  • surveying

  • business studies

  • economics

  • estate management

  • land and property development

Taking an accredited degree can be the first step to becoming a surveyor. Whether that is undergraduate study or postgraduate. This is because the relevant organisations work in partnership with universities to ensure that the accredited degree courses are relevant to industry. So when studying, your qualification will be recognised by employers as the benchmark of quality. Find courses here: http://www.ricscourses.org/Course/# or https://www.cices.org/membership/about/courses/.


Apprenticeships (16 plus): You could do a chartered surveyor degree apprenticeship. Also the geospatial survey technician level 3. You will usually need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This will be partly studying in school and partly out getting hands on. Search opportunities on the Government website (UK).

There are two levels of apprenticeships. At age 16 you can study a level 3 course, and then at 18 can study for the level 5 or 6.

There is a level 6 option which is geospatial mapping and science specialist. This is equivalent to a Bachelors degree. Find out more here.


The two most relevant are:


T-Levels (age 16)– Mike from RICS introduced the concept to us, where students can gain practical work experience whilst studying 14 key modules in college (20:80 split). Work placements are scattered between the college work, with three exams at the end of the second year. It has been developed in collaboration with industry employers and professional bodies, including RICS and CICES.

*Could your business help train the next generation of surveyors? To find out about the benefits of offering a T-Level work placement, visit the government’s website, or email Mike Cox at mcox@rics.org.


Work Progression: If you have a higher national diploma or foundation degree in surveying or construction, you may be able to work as a surveying technician, and take further training on the job to qualify as a professional surveyor, or to specialise into a specific field. This is similar to progressing and diversifying into your niche of preferred work.


Development scheme: You could get a postgraduate qualification through a graduate trainee scheme with a company to work for (through RICS or CICES which offer special schemes); The Survey School run by the TSA provides a great 2 year block release course as well as other short courses. Education is also available through distance learning with the University College of Estate Management.


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



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