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.
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
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.
On average, surveyor’s assistants, classified under other construction and mining labourers, can expect to earn between $1 500 and $1 999 per week ($78 000 and $103 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a surveyor’s assistant develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
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.
You can work as a surveyor’s assistant without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining qualifications in surveying or spatial information services.
The Certificate IV in Surveying, and Certificate III and IV in Spatial Information Services are offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.
You can also complete a traineeship. The surveying operator traineeship usually takes 24 months to complete.
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.
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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.