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Charting the course for an adventurous career

Surveying and Spatial Sciences graduate and trail runner, Damon Whish-Wilson, combined his analytical and planning skills with a love of the outdoors.


Damon Whish-Wilson is a competitive trail runner who spends countless hours exploring Tasmania’s wildest and most remote places and challenging his physical and mental limits.

He applied the same sharp focus and drive required to complete gruelling ultra-marathons to his studies and was recently awarded a Bachelor of Surveying and Spatial Sciences at the University’s summer graduation ceremony.

Damon chose to study and pursue a career in surveying to build on his analytical and planning skills and love for being outdoors.

“As a surveyor and spatial scientist there is huge flexibility in job roles, providing the potential for a dynamic career,” said Damon, who grew up in the rural town of Scottsdale in north-east Tasmania.

This one degree provides the knowledge and skills for a ‘pick-your-own-adventure’ career without the need to complete other university studies or apprenticeships.

“I’m particularly interested in the surveying stream. The career opportunities and job prospects that exist in the surveying profession are a huge part of why I choose this career, in addition to the balance between office and fieldwork.”

Damon completed his degree in Hobart and gained invaluable industry experience during his holidays working with a surveying firm in Launceston. He has now secured employment as a graduate surveyor at the same firm, Michell Hodgetts Surveyors, where he is responsible for all aspects of survey work including pre-planning, field work, processing and finalising draft plans.

He also had the opportunity to complete some laser scanning work on the University’s Bisdee Tier space telescope project, measuring and modelling a new radio antennae dish prior to installation.

Damon credits this experience and the industry-relevant course content with ensuring he was job-ready and prepared to hit the ground running upon graduation.

Surveying and Spatial Sciences course coordinator, Dr Rachael Hurd, said this year had proven highly successful with all graduates who wanted to start their career being able to secure employment within government and industry.

It’s part of an industry-wide trend, with the demand for qualified surveyors growing both here in Tasmania and nationally.

Damon Whish-Wilson competing in a trail running event on Tasmanian's Freycinet Peninsula.

“Demand for graduates is exceeding the current student pipeline,” Dr Hurd said.

“The use of spatial data and analysis has grown exponentially over the past decade and now there is a nationwide shortage of people with 3D data collection and analysis skills.

“The surveying industry is core to every development project and there is a wide range of job opportunities, both here and further afield, meaning there’s plenty of room to move and grow into different areas of the profession as careers progress.”

Surveyors are responsible for making measurements on the land, sea and in space by providing 3D location and positional information to support a wide range of activities.

Every development project needs to understand the questions of where, what and how much – all of which need to be measured and analysed accurately by a surveyor or spatial scientist to be useful in the planning and approvals process.

National President of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, Paul Digney, said the profession provided enabling activities that support a range of critical services, such as emergency and land management.

For example, the role of surveyors has been critically important in helping to support the tracing of COVID across the world by mapping and analysing the trends and impacts of the pandemic.

Surveying is one of a number of professions that is suffering from a massive skills shortage. The current critical shortage is being driven by significant investment in large infrastructure and development across Australia, in which surveyors play a significant role in planning, design and construction.

“While it’s a challenge for the sector, it is resulting in significant opportunities for surveying graduates who are effectively able to choose their jobs in whatever area of the industry they would like given the substantial demand for resources,” Mr Digney said.

In addition, Mr Digney said the age profile of the sector was driving demand with more surveyors aged over-60 than under-40 in Tasmania, which is not sustainable over the medium to long term.

This demand has carved out a solid career path for graduates like Damon, who is already planning his next move to become a registered cadastral surveyor.

“Surveying can have many different types of challenges that can require fast thinking, which I really enjoy,” Damon said. 

“I am working towards to become a registered cadastral surveyor here in Tasmania and plan to take advantage of the career opportunities right here on my doorstep.”

Learn more about the Bachelor of Surveying and Spatial Sciences.