How to Become a Hydrographic Surveyor

Written by

Beatrice Harrison


August 14, 2014


Hydrographic surveys involve measuring and describing a variety of characteristics that affect marine construction, maritime navigation, offshore oil exploration, and a variety of marine tasks. Hydrographic surveyors are highly trained professionals that survey many different types of bodies of water.

What does a hydrographic surveyor do?

Hydrographic surveyors map a variety of bodies of water such as oceans, lakes, streams, and rivers. They determine the topography of the bottom, the depth of the water, shorelines, and other characteristics. They often use many types of sophisticated tools and equipment such as sound navigation, global positioning systems (GPS), and sonar equipment to construct topographical maps. They also track changes in the levels of the water and the composition of soil. Hydrographic surveyors often study the same aarea frequently and they determine what causes many different changes such as climate change, erosion, and biological activity. Hydrographic surveyors typically work for government organizations, oil companies, private research groups, and shipping companies.

What kind of training does a hydrographic surveyor need?

Hydrographic surveyors must have at least a bachelor degree in hydrogeology, geography, geophysics or other related field. Most employers prefer applicants with a master or doctorate degree. Many colleges and universities offer a variety of degree programs for prospective hydrographic surveyors. Many aspiring hydrographic surveyors complete internships while pursuing their education to gain practical experience in the field. Some hydrographic surveyors started their careers as members of survey teams and advanced to surveyor positions as they gained the necessary skills and experience. All states require hydrographic surveyors to be licensed. Licensing requirements typically include minimum education and experience and passing a written examination. Hydrographic surveyors often complete continuing education throughout their careers to maintain their licenses, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a hydrographic surveyor?

Employment of hydrographic surveyors is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 19% through 2018 (1). The increased demand for hydrographic information will drive job growth.

Job prospects should be good, especially for hydrographic surveyors with extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace hydrographic surveyors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do hydrographic surveyors make?

As of 2014, the average annual salary for hydrographic surveyors is $52,000; average annual hydrographic surveyor salaries vary greatly on location, employer, education, experience, and benefits.

For anyone considering whether and how to become a hydrographic surveyor, this is an excellent career choice for individuals with a strong interest in performing survey tasks on a variety of bodies of water. Hydrographic surveyors must have a solid understanding of the policies and procedures related to hydrographic surveying. Good vision, detail orientation, patience, accuracy, and precision are necessary characteristics. Hydrographic surveyors must have good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to work effectively as part of a team.

Becoming a Hydrographic Surveyor Requires Training, Start Today

Are you serious about becoming a Hydrographic Surveyor? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the College Mouse Degree Search tool to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!

Written by:  Beatrice Harrison

Educated at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Beatrice Harrison has extensive professional experience in career counseling, having helped a growing number of job seekers find fulfilling and meaningful careers in a variety of fields and disciplines.

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  • Dear BEATRICE,

    I’m looking for college or a recognized institute for the study of HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEY by distance learning,Can you help me in this matterز

    Kindest Regards,
    Alaaeldeen Hamza

  • Dear Hamza,

    Thank you for contacting Unfortunately, this is a highly specialized area of study with a significant amount of practical application. It is unlikely that you will find distance learning options.

    Best Regards,

    College Mouse Team

  • I found some universities offer this programme. Most of uk universities (top ranked) have a duration about only a years. But im interested with hafen city university in hamburg germany (ranked 3000++) which offers the same programme for 2 years. Is there any difference while i think one year isn’t good enough for technical field. All programmes are recognized by iho, noaa. Thanks.

    • Fatin,

      Thanks for visiting College Mouse. As long as the college is accredited/recognized, the length of the course shouldn’t really matter. If you are still unsure, we’d suggest you compare the course content for two of the schools you are looking at – i.e. a two-year and one-year program. One difference is that the two-year program might include an apprenticeship or internship. This is not uncommon in Germany. We hope this helps you make a decision.

      Good luck with your studies.

      College Mouse Team

  • Hi Beatrice @ College Mouse Team,
    Thanks for replying me.. I have the same thought as yours. But I’m in consideration and hesitation about the ranking too. As in my country require degrees from top raking universities (at 200th or lower). I hope this won’t apply in my case since it’s already credited internationally.