What they do
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.
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.
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.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to 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 a qualification in surveying or spatial information services.
The Certificate III in Surveying and Spatial Information Services and Certificate IV in Surveying are offered at TAFE colleges throughout Western Australia.
You can also undertake a traineeship in surveying (level 4). The traineeship usually takes 36 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.