A Day in the Life of a Surveyor

Rob Murrain-Field, Bath Spa University Geography graduate, gives us the lowdown on what life is like as a former Hydrographic Surveyor turned Land Surveyor at Technics Group.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I graduated from Bath Spa University in 2011 with a 2:1 in Geography with my degree focused on Physical Geography and Surveying. Having graduated in July I secured my first job in December as a Surveyor with the Environment Agency.

Techings Group - Rob MF

Did you always know this career path was for you?

Before University I never imagined a career as a Surveyor. I knew I didn’t want an office job. Half of my family are farmers and the other half are keen on outdoor activities, so I knew from an early age that I enjoyed being outside, but that was the only thought I’d had.

It was the wide variety of modules available at Bath Spa that really opened my eyes to the different career opportunities available for a Geography graduate.

I chose the modules I did without a career in mind, primarily because I thought I would enjoy them.I actually believe that was the key to my success.

What does a typical day for you involve?

I remained with the Environment Agency for 18 months with most of my work focused on near-shore collection of Multibeam Bathymetry data.

This allows me to expand upon my knowledge of surveying principles quickly, and I got to work in some really challenging environments. Personal highlights were surveying reservoirs on the Yorkshire Moors as well as the Thames and reaches past Windsor castle.

Having gained experience in hydrographic survey, I moved to Fugro EMU to try life offshore. This was both rewarding and enjoyable, but after a year I decided that the type of survey I enjoyed the most was land survey. This prompted my move to my current position at Technics Group.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Since joining Technics Group in August 2014 as a Junior Land Surveyor, not one day has been the same. So far I have visited around three different sites a week with a couple of days in the office mixed in.

I really enjoy this variety; I find it one of the best parts of my job. The company is really progressive with a great portfolio, and day-to-day I can be doing anything from assisting with a topographical survey, to setting out a building site or performing measured building surveys for redevelopment.

Even office work has become rewarding: with Technics I am not only responsible for capturing data, I also have to manipulate it and create a final product (e.g. digital drawing in .DWG format) for the client.

It is the variety, the responsibility for a job from start to finish, and the fact that I still get to spend a lot of time outdoors, that I find are the most enjoyable aspects of my role.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?

The most challenging part of my job so far has been learning how to process and draw up the data that I have captured.

While Bath Spa gives students a good grounding in basic data acquisition and processing, I had never used the software that Technics Group use before. However, I feel that I am progressing well with it – and having good support from my colleagues really helps.

What is your career progression path like?

Opportunities for career progression in surveying are good. The typical steps are trainee surveyor, junior surveyor, surveyor, senior surveyor, and then possibly management roles.

At Technics Group the route for progression is really well defined, and that structure is attractive for a recent graduate. At each stage you have to prove that you can meet specific competencies and have had enough experience and exposure to each of these competencies.

This really helps you direct your own learning and ultimately makes you responsible for how quickly you are able to progress.

Do you have any advice for students looking to get into the industry?

For students who are looking to get into the industry, my advice would be to secure relevant work experience before going for an interview. This is something Bath Spa actively encourages. I was lucky enough to get work experience with the Environment Agency while I was at University, and I definitely think it helped me secure my first job.

Work experience meant I had something on my CV that grabbed my interviewer’s attention. It also meant I had a topic that was easy to talk about and which was relevant to the organisation, so I wasn’t grilled on topics I knew less about. Ultimately it meant I was able to stand out from other candidates.

At University I would recommend taking any modules that give you exposure to surveying methods, both in a practical sense and from a theory and processing point of view.

In your spare time, hobbies that involve getting out in the environment look good – and you have to prove that you don’t mind working in all weather conditions.

Throughout my studies I had a job as a groundsman. This helped me demonstrate to potential employers that I did enjoy working outside and didn’t mind getting cold, wet or dirty, which is important for a Surveyor!

Take all the opportunities that come your way to help you stand out. Bath Spa will give you plenty of opportunities, but it is up to you to make your own too. That’s all I did, and so far it’s stood me in good stead.

Technics Group are always looking to take on talented graduates and offer summer work placements. If you are interested, please send a letter of application to recruitment@technicsgroup.com.