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Surveyor's assistant

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Summary of occupation

Survey assistants help surveyors collect information about the position, shape and elevation of the Earth's natural features, and map property boundaries. They are generally responsible for loading survey equipment into vehicles for transport to sites, ensuring that all necessary equipment is included and is in proper working order. When working in the field, survey assistants may be required to clear vegetation and debris from a site, assemble and dismantle equipment, mark boundaries using pegs and string, and record measurements.

ANZSCO description: no description available
Alternative names: Chainperson, Survey Assistant, Survey Hand, Surveyor's Assistant
Specialisations: Geological Survey Field Assistant, Seismic Survey Assistant
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A survey assistant needs:

  • keen observation skills
  • a reasonable level of fitness
  • the ability to work as part of team
  • to be methodical and pay attention to details
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Working conditions

Survey assistants work in locations throughout Western Australia, from the Tuart forests in the South West to the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley. They often work outside, in most weather conditions, though they may spend some time working in an office. Field work can be carried out in a diverse range of environments, including building sites, mine sites, proposed housing developments, built up urban areas, farms or on the coast. Those working at mine sites may also be required to work underground.

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Salary details

Other construction and mining labourers, which include survey assistants, can expect to earn between $986 and $1,398* per week, depending on their level of experience and the organisation they work for.

*ABS Census (2006)

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Tools and technologies

Survey assistants set up, and occasionally operate, a range of specialist surveying equipment, which may include theodolites, levels, prisms and electronic distance measuring equipment. They may also make use of Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment, as well as computers with land surveying software and computer-aided design (CAD) programs. When marking out property boundaries, survey assistants commonly use wooden pegs or star pickets and hammers to drive them into the ground. Some survey assistants may also be required to drive trucks, 4 wheel drive and/or other vehicles to work sites. Protective clothing, including hard hats, steel-capped boots and high-visibility vests, may be required at some work sites.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

It is possible to become a survey assistant with no formal qualifications, with most employers providing training on-the-job once you are employed. However, it may improve you employment prospects if you complete a certificate in Spatial Information Services.

The Certificate II in Spatial Information Services provides a general introduction to surveying. It covers the skills and knowledge required to read and interpret maps, maintain and operate common equipment and provide services in the field. It also covers general workplace skills, such as communication and occupational health and safety. It generally takes 6 months to complete and is offered by Central Institute of Technology (eCentral - East Perth campus).

A Certificate III in Spatial Information Services builds on these basic skills. Students learn how to work with spatial data, perform computations and more advanced fieldwork skills, including how to operating a 4 wheel drive vehicle. This course also takes 6 months to complete and is available at Central Institute of Technology (eCentral - East Perth campus), Kimberley TAFE (Broome campus) and South West Regional College of TAFE (Bunbury campus).

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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