About the Job
Hydrography is the branch of applied sciences which deals with the measurement and description of the physical features of oceans, seas, coastal areas, lakes and rivers, as well as with the prediction of their change over time, for the primary purpose of safety of navigation and in support of all other marine activities, including economic development, security and defence, scientific research, and environmental protection.
The Royal Australian Navy through the Australian Hydrographic Service is the Commonwealth Government agency responsible for production of Australia's official nautical charts (paper and electronic), Tide Tables and other nautical publications for all ships navigating the seas and oceans around Australia. The charting area for the Hydrographic Survey Fleet covers one eighth of the Earth's surface, stretching as far west as Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, east to Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean and from the Solomon Islands to the Antarctic.
When you join the Navy and successfully complete the recruit and initial category training, you will be employed as a Hydrographic Surveyor (known in the Navy as a Hydrographic Systems Operator). You can be expected to undertake tasks such as:
- The collection processing of hydrographic data utilising sophisticated computer systems and equipment such as multi-beam and single beam echo-sounders, sonar, GPS and other navigation systems
- The collection processing of oceanographic data by taking seabed samples, observing water clarity and temperature, measuring the speed of sound through water and observing bioluminescence
- Conduct tide camps, field operations and Rapid Environmental Assessments
- Conduct seamanship evolutions including anchor work, rope work, small boat handling and operations, berthing, towing and deploying and recovering surveying equipment such as side scan sonars and moving vessel profilers
- Conduct watchkeeping duties at sea such as lookout, helmsman and survey systems operator.
Other tasks in addition to general HS duties include:
- Form part of teams to fight fire, toxic hazards, floods and conduct casualty location and rescue
- Form part of teams to conduct Force Protection to maintain the security of the ship at sea or alongside against a full range of potential threats
- Keep duties that involve maintaining the security and integrity of the ship or base for a 24 hour period
Other Ranks - Non Technical
Join the ADF with appropriate high school passes
Preparing for Your Recruitment Process
This document provides information that will assist applicants for roles in the Navy, Army and Air Force, including details about the recruitment process, how to prepare yourself for assessment, and what to expect if you are successful in joining the Australian Defence Force.
Salary & Allowances
In the Navy you'll get paid a good salary from day one regardless of your age, experience or qualifications; and your pay increases as you progress through training.
In addition to your salary you'll receive a variety of allowances, extra pay for relevant qualifications – plus 16.4% superannuation, a far higher rate than you're likely to find in the civilian world.
All Sailors will serve in fleet units and shore establishments on a rotational basis.
Applicants must be at least 17 years of age and able to complete the Initial Minimum Period of Service before reaching Compulsory Retirement Age (60).
Applicants will not be allowed to enter the ADF until they achieve a minimum of 17 years of age, however they may be able to initiate the application process from 16 years and six months of age.
Education & Experience
The minimum educational standard for Hydrographic Surveyors is successful completion of Year 10 with mandatory passes in English, Mathematics and Science (preferably with a Physics component).
Medical & Fitness
To be appointed, you must be medically and physically fit for entry into the ADF. This is partially assessed from the completion of an extensive questionnaire covering your medical history, followed by a physical examination. You will also be required to pass a physical fitness test before appointment.
You must also pass the swim test and physical fitness test to graduate from your Navy Training and to proceed to the Safety of Life at Sea Training that is a requirement for Recruit School.
You will be required to pass a Pre-entry Fitness Assessment (PFA) before enlistment. The PFA requires you to complete a specified number of sit-ups and a timed cardio component. Fitness standards differ for selected age groups. Please refer to the Navy - Health and Fitness page for further details.
The RANST is conducted to ensure the Navy's duty of care to all serving personnel, with respect to rudimentary swimming skills. The purpose of the RANST is to ensure fundamental water survival skills as a prerequisite to training such as survival at sea training. Individual components of the RANST are fundamentally related to the survival at sea scenario.
Competency in the RANST is achieved through completion of each component:
- A safety jump off a 3m tower in overalls
- A 10m underwater swim in overalls
- A 50m swim using three safety strokes
- The ability to tread water or float for 15 mins in overalls
All personnel will undertake the RANST upon entry and competency is to be achieved before the end of your initial military training.
Period of Service
You will be enlisted for an Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years. On enlistment if you elect to serve an open ended enlistment, you will be able to serve until retirement age, subject to your continued suitability for service. If you elect to serve for a fixed period of service, subsequent periods of service may be offered subject to the requirements of the ADF and your suitability for further service. Your Careers Coach can advise on how IMPS will relate to your chosen occupation.
The Job Opportunities Assessment (JOA) is completed as part of the application process to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF). Some jobs may also require you to complete a further evaluation at a later date.
The JOA is used by Defence to establish suitability for ADF entry, and then identify jobs that best match your abilities.
Further information about the JOA can be found in the Guide to the Job Opportunities Assessment for the ADF.
To get a feel for the types of questions that are used in the Job Opportunities Assessment and how they will look on your screen some examples can be found in the Job Opportunities Assessment Example Questions.
To serve in the ADF you must be an Australian Citizen.
If you are a permanent resident of Australia, the ADF may consider a temporary deferral of the citizenship requirement if the position for which you are applying cannot be filled by an applicant who meets all the citizenship requirements, and then only in exceptional circumstances. You will be required to obtain Australian Citizenship as early as possible following enlistment or appointment.
Find out more in our Citizenship page or ask your local Defence Force Recruiting Centre.
The Department of Defence requires ADF employees to have a security clearance appropriate to their employment.
A process of background checks, collection of relevant information and if required, interviews, enables the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) to make an informed assessment of an applicant's suitability for a security clearance.
The minimum security clearance level required is Negative Vetting Level 1 (NV1), and current policy requires applicants to have a checkable background for the previous 10 years.
This means applicants must provide credible referees (non-family members) who are able to provide information about the applicant covering an extended period of time. Required information for an NV1 includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Financial information
Some ADF jobs may require a higher level of security clearance such as Negative Vetting Level 2 (NV2) or Positive Vetting (PV). Your individual circumstances will determine the number and complexity of the questions and the supporting documents required for these levels.
Australian Citizenship is a requirement for a security clearance and a clearance will only be granted to a non-citizen in exceptional circumstances.
The security clearance is critical to an applicant's successful progression through the recruiting process. It is strongly recommended that all applicants action the Security Clearance Package (ePack) and provide the required documentation without delay to provide the best opportunity to commence training and be employed in their preferred employment category.
For more detailed information on the security vetting process and specific clearance level requirements set by AGSVA, please refer to the AGSVA website.
Support will be provided by DFR during the initial application process.
Duration: 9 weeks
Location: Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria
All sailors who join the Navy will conduct their initial sailor training at the RAN Recruit School prior to commencing specific category training. The NESC course is designed to prepare you to conduct basic duties as a sailor. Some of the key components of the NESC course are:
- Physical fitness: General fitness and the Navy swim test
- Military life: General service knowledge, including drill and ceremonial procedures
- Specialty skills: Weapons training, workplace safety, first aid and sailing
- Navy skills: Seamanship, corrosion control, survival at sea and fire and flood control,
- A one week sea familiarisation period
Recruits, who successfully complete all components of the course will participate in a Graduation Parade to mark the occasion. Recruits will have the opportunity to invite family and friends to view the parade.
On completion of NESC course, all sailors will proceed on to their respective employment training specific to their category. For further information, please see the RAN Recruit School joining instructions Navy recruit school website.
Duration: 4 weeks
Duration: 1 week
Duration: 10 weeks
The Basic Hydrographic Surveyor Course includes the following subjects:
- Introduction to the Hydrographic Service, mathematics, the nautical chart, maps, projections and units of measure, science refresher training; boat handling (theory and practical), principals of the echo sounder (theory and practical), and electronic surveying equipment
- Satellite (GPS) position fixing systems, installation of permanent survey marks, tidal theory and measurement, optical and mechanical surveying equipment and observations, construction of campsites (theory and practical)
- Survey records, survey computer systems, hydrographic surveying systems, oceanographic equipment and obtaining marine samples, sonar theory and operation.
- Land surveying techniques (angle and distance measurement), and
- Geospatial data manipulation, ARCGIS and other geospatial software for the production of Geospatial Information related to products for the end user.
During your Initial Minimum Period of Service (IMPS) of four years, you will get a comprehensive appreciation for the duties and postings associated with the Hydrographic Surveyor Category. When you join the RAN you will conduct Recruit training, Basic Seamanship Course and the Basic Hydrographic Surveyor Course. Upon successful completion of these courses you can expect to be posted straight to sea to consolidate your training.
As a SMNHSO at sea the majority of your tasks will involve a mix of ship watchkeeping or small boat work combined with the data gathering and processing and validation using modern computer based systems. If, within the first 12 months of being a SMNHSO you have been well reported on (similar to a school report card) and completed your Helmsman Certificate, you can expect to be promoted to an Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator (ABHSO).
As an ABHSO you may be required to complete extra courses such as Navigator's Yeoman, Gunner's Yeoman or Shipborne Lifesaving and Survival Equipment Maintainer to enable you to undertake further duties on a Survey platform. Whether you continue your sea posting on a SML or a Hydrographic Ship, your primary focus will be to complete your ABHSO Hydrographic Experience Log to ensure you are competent to conduct all the duties associated with being an ABHSO.
If you complete this log and again, are well reported on, you may become eligible for promotion to Leading Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator (LSHSO) towards the end of your IMPS. In order to prepare you for promotion to LSHSO, you will be placed on the Intermediate Seamanship Course, Intermediate Hydrographic Systems Operator Course and the Leading Seaman Promotion Course. These courses will help you develop your leadership skills and prepare you for greater responsibility as a LSHSO.