Case study

Offshore surveyor — Colin

Colin enjoys the excitement of working in a sector that has a range of opportunities in a variety of locations

How did you get your job?

I initially graduated from Plymouth University with a BA (Hons) in business studies before returning to the same university a few years later to do an MSc in hydrography.

I had actually secured my current job before I completed the course. At the time, the oil and gas sector was a positive market, with good oil prices and lots of activity. Employers were anxious to recruit new graduates into the industry and so there were visits on campus from prospective employers, along with a lot of job advertisements for graduate positions.

I researched all the companies in the industry that I wanted to work for based on their activities, location and salary and benefits package.

I also spoke to a lot of people in the industry to gather their thoughts and attended events and conferences to speak to companies direct. iSURVEY was top of my list after this and so I pursued them direct, applying through their website.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Without the MSc Hydrography, I wouldn't have been able to get a job in the sector. It provided me with the knowledge and skills and ultimately a gateway, to become an offshore surveyor.

Other people have entered the industry through other methods, but this was the most practical route for me.

What are your main work activities?

There is no such thing as a typical day offshore in my role. Every single day is completely different.

However, if we take a rig move, for example, my week would look something like this: Day one would consist of travelling to the rig via train, plane and helicopter. I usually meet the team that I am working with at the airport or the heliport, we usually then have a brief for the project we are about to do. Day two would involve locating our equipment and commencing the mobilisation of the kit. This involves lots of physical work, moving kit and measuring the rig. Day three would be move day, this is usually a very busy, high-pressure day and can be very stressful. Day four, once the rig is in the new location we would start to take down our kit and pack it away. Day five would be traveling home. That, in a very small nutshell, could be my work week.

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

I am still developing my role as a surveyor within iSURVEY. They offer a training and development platform through the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) that enables me to progress and enhance my knowledge and skills.

As I become more experienced I will be expected to take on more responsibilities and lead teams while offshore.

In the future I would like to take on project management responsibilities and see projects through from tender to delivery.

What do you enjoy about your job?

Offshore work is one of the most exciting sectors to be in, in my opinion, for the variety of work and opportunities, the places you travel to and the people you meet.

Every project I undertake is completely different: I could be flying into a country to meet a vessel to go out and provide support for construction projects; I could be flying in a helicopter to a rig to move it to a new location; or I could be conducting multibeam surveys for a cable lay project.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

I've found the scope of work you can be expected to carry out quite daunting. The term 'hydrographic surveyor' is actually very broad and there are lots of different tasks you could be faced with under that title. You're constantly faced with hurdles and problems that you have to overcome. However, this also makes it the most interesting thing I face in my career.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Do your homework to make sure it's actually what you want to do. Be prepared to spend time away from family and friends through the year and at Christmas, and to miss parties, BBQs and birthdays.

If you're willing to make these sacrifices and know that it's what you want, then the rewards can be substantial.

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