Hydrographic Surveyor

Create precise images of river bottoms and sea floors.
picture of Hydrographic Surveyor

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$23,000 – $61,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Hydrographic Surveyors do?

Nautical ports around the world rely on Hydrographic Surveyors to give them information about shallow waters. This helps cruise ships, fishing vessels, and freighters make safe passage through narrow channels and into their parking space at the wharf.

As a Hydrographic Surveyor, you make sure the information the Boat Captain receives is accurate. To do that, you spend your days monitoring what’s going on at the bottom of rivers and oceans. That might mean working from shore or hitching a ride on a ship. You might even take readings from an airplane.

A Hydrographic Surveyor job gives you the opportunity to work in the open sea air, in all types of weather conditions. Unless you work in the tropical Caribbean, you prepare for wind, rain, sleet, or snow, and head out the door.

Next, you use specialized equipment, such as GPS and sonar, to create images of the seafloor. In deeper waters, you might even use a remote-controlled vehicle to do the deep-sea diving for you.

Regardless of the tools you use, your goal is to watch for anything that might act as a hazard for ships. For example, you might locate a shipwreck or identify dropped cargo that could get in the way of propellers or cause damage to the ship. You might even supervise the removal of objects.

Your findings help Cartographers make underground maps, identify sources of oil and other resources, and direct Dredgers in their work.

Should I be a Hydrographic Surveyor?

You should have an associate's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.

  • Also known as: Cartographic Aide, Cartographic Drafter, Surveyor Chain Helper

    How to become a Hydrographic Surveyor

    Most Hydrographic Surveyors have an Associate's degree or higher. Chart?chd=s:p9xkia&chl=no+college+%289%25%29|certificate+%2836%25%29|associate%27s+%2829%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2821%25%29|master%27s+%285%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,9,36
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