Case study

Hydrographic surveyor — Luke Titley

Taking a Masters degree in hydrographic surveying helped Luke secure a job with a company providing services to the subsea industry

How did you get your job?

I have worked as an online hydrographic surveyor for Deep Ocean since graduating with an MSc in Hydrographic Surveying from University College London (UCL).

As the Masters course at UCL is recognised abroad as 'Category A' by the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA), which is the highest level of international recognition awarded, a number of subsea survey/technology companies were actively seeking to employ students on this course upon graduation.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

My Masters degree provided a good understanding of the majority of equipment and techniques that I now use at work, as well as a great insight into the background theory.

In addition to the comprehensive hydrographic modules, the curriculum also included GIS, mapping and management. While these are not things that I use daily in my current position, having an understanding of both the theory and practice of other parts of the industry has proved to be invaluable.

What are your main work activities?

On board I am in charge of positioning the vessel and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), as well as data collection using the survey equipment attached to the ROV.

Work can range from inspecting pipelines to helping position the infrastructure for the first ever subsea gas compression unit, a project that was featured on the BBC and that I was proud to be a part of.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

My current role has evolved from spending time training alongside a more qualified surveyor, to becoming the qualified surveyor training others.

With time you learn so much more about everything involved in the job and are able to problem solve and multitask at a much higher rate.

Options for career progression are good and I hope to move up the ladder to a more senior position soon.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

One of the most challenging parts of the job and the industry as a whole is the time spent away from loved ones. Hydrographic surveyors tend to work in rotation; I currently work four weeks on and four weeks off, which means that I tend to work for 160 days a year and therefore have the opportunity to spend four weeks at a time catching up with friends and family and seeing the world.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The job is well paid and in my experience the atmosphere on the vessels is fantastic. There is always something to do during your time off-shift, from playing table tennis to learning guitar in the music room.

Any words of advice for someone who wants to get into this career?

If you're thinking of getting into hydrographic surveying, make sure you think about whether the offshore life is really for you - I have seen people come on board and then realise they don't actually like the sea.

Most survey companies conduct interviews at their head office rather than on the survey vessels, so while these interviews are a great opportunity to gain an insight into the culture of the company and the country, it's worth contacting people in the industry via LinkedIn and asking any questions you may have; most will be more than willing to help.

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