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Study surveying courses in Australia

Field of Study: Surveying Course Information

This is a field with a clear focus: ‘the determination and identification of the shape, contour, location and dimensions of land or water masses and their features, or planning and designing maps’, says one definition.

Career versatility is a key selling point in this field. According to the Institution of Surveyors, modern surveyors ‘help police at crime scenes, they predict earthquakes, they use computer imaging and satellites to monitor environmental change, they map the ocean floor... and of course, they tell you where your land ends and your neighbour’s begins’. This means that employment prospects are excellent.

For more information about careers in surveying, check out the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute and Australian Institute of Building Surveyors websites.

If you are still shopping around for the right field, you might find other courses of interest in the sciences area (especially the earth sciences), as well as in agriculture, architecture, built environment, environmental studies and engineering and technology.

Browse surveying courses by state

VET study in surveying

Courses, majors and specialisations in Surveying

There are limited surveying offerings in the VET sector — mostly diplomas in spatial information services, with specialisations in geographic information systems (GIS), survey drafting, or surveying — but the few programs that are on offer are well worth investigating. A diploma in surveying or spatial information services will provide excellent practical and technical training for budding surveying technicians and assistant land surveyors.

Most VET courses in this field prepare students for careers in GIS and survey drafting. Courses will typically cover general scientific and IT principles, in addition to the varied specialised surveying and spatial information topics through a mix of core and elective subjects.

Where to study Surveying courses

VET courses in surveying are available in limited numbers throughout the country. Your choice of course might depend on the particular course focus and subject offerings. It might also be useful to ask each provider about the career outcomes of past graduates.

Considering the reasonably limited range of VET courses available in this field, it will pay to do your research and thoroughly check out the subject offerings and potential career outcomes of any courses you’re considering.

Technology and facilities are an important aspect of this field of study. You should look for courses that can offer the latest equipment and the best facilities. Vocational experience is also particularly important in this field. Ideally, VET courses in surveying will provide a strong link between theory and practice and provide students with ample opportunities for practical work.

Career opportunities in Surveying field

Career versatility is a definite selling point in this field. VET qualifications in surveying or spatial information services equip their holders for work as assistants to land surveyors, survey technicians, GIS/GPS operators, or in roles such as computer draftsperson, cartographic technician or geographic information systems officer, among others.

Graduates may work in a range of areas and settings — land management, civil and structural engineering, for government or mining companies.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Undergraduate study in surveying

Courses, majors and specialisations in Surveying

The following are just some of the majors you can study in this field:

  • Building surveying

  • Cadastral surveying

  • Cartography

  • Engineering surveying

  • Geographic information systems

  • Global positioning

  • Hydrographic surveying

  • Land surveying

  • Mine surveying

  • Quantity surveying

In universities, courses might be found in surveying, engineering, spatial sciences, geomatics or a range of other academic areas. If designing maps interests you, you should look at cartography.

The various traditional surveying specialisations (cadastral, marine, mining) now sit alongside a host of other geoinformatics sub-fields such as geographic information systems, spatial information systems, global positioning and photogrammetry, all of which exploit high-level technology to collect, analyse, display and manage geographical and spatial information. That’s one of the good things about this field: technology knows no bounds. Even cartography courses have enjoyed a facelift lately, with titles like multimedia cartography making it to some course lists.

Some courses are named specifically after one of the above fields (for example, there are bachelor degrees in surveying and cartography), but if a geomatics specialisation is your preference you will often find it within a general science, applied science, engineering or technology degree, so it pays to do your research.

The surveying profession has been experiencing significant skills shortages for several years. The upside of this is that employment prospects for surveyors are likely to remain positive for several years to come. In response to the shortages, SSSI has established the Spatial Education Leadership Group, which aims to build a level of skilled capacity that is sustainable in the long term. Its initiatives are designed to increase awareness of the profession and the progression of spatial sciences. Other SSSI initiatives include the Women in Spatial group, which aims to engage women in the profession through schemes such as forums and scholarships, and the SSSI Mentoring Program, which offers mentoring to students and young professionals.

Where to study Surveying courses

Courses in surveying are offered at university campuses across the country, but it is important to pay careful attention to specialisations and where they are offered. You may find that some of the more niche specialisations are on offer at just a few campuses.

See Degree costs and loans for more information about paying for your degree.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in Surveying field

Unemployment rates have risen in this field, with 22 per cent of 2013 graduates still looking for work four months after completing their studies (up from just nine per cent among 2012 graduates). Starting salaries are an attractive feature — salaries for graduates in 2014 were in the top bracket, at $60,049. Further study is reasonably popular, with 20 per cent of 2013 graduates continuing onto postgraduate studies.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

Postgraduate study in surveying

Courses, majors and specialisations in Surveying

At postgraduate level, surveying is definitely a field for specialists. Almost all postgraduate programs are designed for those who completed previous study in the field or who work in the area. There isn't a huge amount of specialisations on offer, but expect to find courses with titles such as geographic information science, surveying and mapping, spatial science technology, and GIS and remote sensing. Courses are available from graduate certificate level through to doctoral degrees.

Where to study Surveying courses

This isn't a huge field as far as the number of providers goes, but you will find plenty of courses available. These courses are generally offered by universities rather than private providers. Some specialisations may only be offered at a few institutions, while others are more widely available.

It probably goes without saying that if you are contemplating a research degree (and a surprising number do, with around 60 per cent of postgraduates completing research degrees) you are likely to be better off choosing a department or school that has a strong history of teaching and research in your area of specialisation. For example, some might prefer the traditional surveying methods (such as quantity or cadastral), while others will focus on geographic information systems and the like. You also need to make sure that good supervision and facilities are available.

To find out how each institution performs in your field of study, see our Ratings section.

Career opportunities in Surveying field

Graduates of postgraduate surveying programs were happy with the teaching quality of their course and moderately happy with the skills the gained, according to the latest national Course Experience Questionnaire survey. Employment prospects were average, with 74 per cent of graduates finding employment within four months of graduation. Salaries were about average compared to other fields, with graduates earning an average of $77,932 per year.

See the Career Search for more information about your career options.

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