The expertise of surveyors and map-makers has been around since history began. Today their roles have diversified to cover a broad range of areas in what is known collectively as the "spatial information industry".
The focus is still on the collection, manipulation, storage and sharing of spatial data and the skills acquired are now used in relation to land, sea, space, forensics, medicine and many areas of industry.
The spatial information industry in Australia is currently worth over one billion dollars annually, at an estimated growth rate of 20% each year.
With rapid advances in technology, new career opportunities are constantly emerging for both men and women. Spatial information specialists completing their tertiary studies have one of the highest employment rates of any discipline, with enviable salary ranges.
Options are to travel or stay at home; work outdoors or in an office; work for yourself or as a member of a team: the choice is yours!
Which ever of the options you choose, you can be guaranteed of a satisfying career that will take you into the future with exciting opportunities challenging you to develop new skills.
What subjects and interests should I have?
A good level of mathematical understanding is the one common requirement for all areas. In addition, the use of computers and/or a range of instruments makes Science and IT good grounding as subject choices.
Careers in the spatial information industry suit people with an interest in the outdoors and the environment. Land development, the discovery and use of natural resources, monitoring of protected areas or species and tracking the effects of global warming are all examples of projects, both in Australia and overseas, in which spatial information specialists involve themselves.
Spatial information specialists often work as members of a multi-disciplinary team.
The ability to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing is essential for those who want to be leaders in the profession.
Mapping & Photogrammetry
A variety of skills and equipment are used to create maps as we know them today in both digital and hardcopy form.
Aerial and satellite imagery is used to provide a basis for map interpretation and compilation.
Precision photography can also be used to measure dilapidation on an historic facade or map a human face for reconstruction surgery.
Forensic investigators have also used photogrammetry when investigating crimes or serious car accidents.
Spatial Data Systems
Developments in computers and software technology continue to enhance the ways that information collected can be used.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are simply layers of spatially interrelated maps.
The layers may include, for example, information about roads, underground services, types of trees, the location of retail outlets or population distribution.
Challenges for the GIS Specialist are to ensure that these layers are linked so that they can be used to analyse, plan and make changes to meet the needs of the community or the environment.
Mining surveyors can follow the same training paths as those working on land or in engineering surveys but additional training is needed to undertake specialist work in underground mines.
In New South Wales, mining surveyors are required to be registered, and, similar to land surveyors, this involves extra study after completing their tertiary education.
Engineering surveyors are often involved in large project works such as high-rise constructions, lay out of roads, tunnels, bridges and dams.
They may, for example, be responsible for ensuring that the structure meets the design requirements and guaranteeing that sections built off site will fit as intended.
With competence in some design processes engineering surveyors can also be involved in land development.
GPS Satellite Surveying & Satellite Imagery
The use of global positioning devices to locate yachts at sea or bush walkers in remote country is now well known.
The same technology can be used to locate information for the production of maps or geographic information systems.
Satellite imagery is also being used to monitor movements on the earth's surface, earth quake zones, potential mud slides or even troops on the move in a war zone.
Hydrographic Surveying and Charting
As the name suggests, hydrographic surveying and charting involves the measurement and mapping of areas covered by water.
Work in this area can entail long periods off shore collecting data for a project such as exploration, pipe laying or environmental research.
Hydrographic surveyors and hydrographers are also involved in monitoring the silting of river beds or even the excavation of a river mouth to provide safe passage for shipping.
For more information please click here.
Surveyors are traditionally known for their work relating to land surveys (sometimes referred to as cadastral or property surveying).
In this area they can be involved in the design of a new residential subdivision, as well as marking out the roads, sewer and landscaping for construction, right through to defining the boundaries of individual properties.
Surveyors involved in boundary definition must be registered or licensed for the state in which they are working.
In a world of growing population and technological development it has been realised that it is important to plan so as to protect the sustainability of environments.
This is important on land, in the oceans and in space.
Surveyors are involved in research projects such as global warming, monitoring of existing environments such as whale movements in the waters off the north coast of New South Wales and providing environmental impact statements for new developments.