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Hydrographic Certification


Certification as a Hydrographic Surveyor by the Australasian Hydrographic Surveyors Certification Panel (AHSCP) is based upon a combination of suitable academic qualifications and appropriate practical experience that demonstrates competency as a hydrographic surveyor.

The AHSCP certifies hydrographic surveyors at two competency levels:
• Level 1 – Highest attainable level of professional hydrographic surveying certification
• Level 2 – Initial professional level of hydrographic surveying certification


The International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) publishes the internationally recognised Standards of Competence for Hydrographic Surveyors (S-5A and S-5B). These documents provide guidance and syllabus for educational and training programmes in order that courses (not individuals) are recognised with Category A or Category B status. The FIG/IHO/ICA International Board on Standards of Competence (IBSC) for Hydrographic Surveyors publishes the List of IBSC Recognized Courses and Schemes.

The AHSCP certification process uses the IHO S5 as the foundation of formal education together with several years’ operational experience.

As our industry is highly specialised, there are insufficient bespoke degrees in Hydrography in Australia to use as formal education for a hydrographer. Should an applicant have not completed an S5 course, then it is incumbent on the applicant to produce a mapping table to map their degree syllabus against the S5 syllabus to confirm that foundation education is complete. The AHSCP does not undertake this mapping process.

The pathway to Level 2/Level 1 requires both experience and formal qualifications such as S-5 or a Bachelor Degree in Surveying or an ‘allied discipline’.

The definition of ‘allied discipline’ has been subject to much discussion, so we attempt to address this question here.  The AHSCP has no desire to be a higher education certification authority such as IBSC or the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), therefore, we do not endorse any specific course or institution.

What we can now provide as guidance for people wishing to map out a career pathway is a listing of degrees from previous successful applications which have degrees recognised as an ‘allied discipline’ from the past ten years.  These degrees may or may not be running within that university into the future, but they provide some transparency for what has been accepted in the past, and present a useful guide for the AHSCP expectations of your application submission. The list does not preclude other degrees from being used as submission – it is simply a listing of what has been successful in the past for assessment under AHSCP Level 1 (Clause 4.1.3) and AHSCP Level 2 (Clause 4.2.3) as outlined in Section 4.0 of the Guidelines for Specialist Certification in Hydrographic Surveying.

View listing of degrees of successful applications


Level 1 – The highest attainable level of professional hydrographic surveying certification:

  • Deep understanding (Degree equivalent level) of the theoretical aspects of hydrographic surveying.
  • Extensive experience in practical hydrographic surveying.
  • Experience in leadership and management of project teams.

A Level 1 Hydrographic Surveyor is expected to:

  • Plan, undertake and manage complex hydrographic surveying projects.
  • Identify sources of error and resolve data discrepancies.
  • Maintain quality assurance principles.
  • Provide professional advice on hydrographic matters.
  • Compile and approve project reports.

Level 2 – Initial professional level of hydrographic surveying certification:

  • A fundamental understanding (Diploma equivalent level) of the theoretical aspects of hydrographic surveying.
  • Practical experience in conducting various hydrographic surveying tasks.

A Level 2 Hydrographic Surveyor is expected to:

  • Undertake the survey plan as directed.
  • Conduct data processing.
  • Prepare reports.


The subjects contained within the IHO S-5 Standards of Competence include:

Basics (compulsory):

  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Physics
  • Nautical Science

Essentials (compulsory):

  • Bathymetry
  • Water levels and flow
  • Positioning
  • Hydrographic practice
  • Hydrographic data management
  • Environmental science
  • Legal aspects

In addition to the compulsory modules, a course may also offer Options of specialisation. Hydrographic Surveyors will normally specialise in one or more of these areas:

  • Nautical Charting Hydrography
  • Hydrography to support Port Management and Coastal Engineering
  • Offshore Seismic Surveying
  • Offshore Construction Hydrography
  • Remote Sensing
  • Military Hydrography
  • Inland Waters Hydrography