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Career Spotlight: The Endless Opportunities Within Surveying with Peta Cox

Career Spotlight: The Endless Opportunities Within Surveying with Peta Cox

11 months ago By Emily Harris
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Today, we highlight the important role surveyors play within the built environment. As experts in determining land size and measurements as well as topographic heights, surveyors are relied upon to give critical advice and information to engineers, architects, town planners, geologists and developers to help guide their projects. And considering Australia's current climate - where infrastructure and construction are playing such a significant role in our economy - the skills of a surveyor have never been in more demand!  

Luckily, here to provide a greater understanding on the responsibilities within the surveying space, the varied projects you can work on and why it's such a rewarding career choice, is Peta Cox. Peta has just taken a position at Consulting Surveyors National as their National Training and Development Manager after extensive experience both working in the industry and teaching at NSW Tafe. She's even started a podcast on the amazing projects surveyors have worked on and their impact on the community!

For those just starting out in their surveying career or wanting to explore new opportunities, Peta highlights the multitude of career possibilities within the surveying space. Read her insights below:

How did you first get into surveying?

After a gap year from my university degree in Nursing & leaving a toxic relationship with a little one, I needed to get a qualification in something to support myself & baby. I had done a few short courses & decided I didn’t want to sit in an office all day, so I applied to TAFE in Landscaping & Surveying as I wanted to work outdoors. I got accepted into both courses but chose Surveying as it was two years full time, while Landscaping was four years part-time. It was as simple as that; I fell into it! It was one of the best things to happen in my life and I have had an awesome career.

What’s your favourite part of working within surveying? 

Variety. Every day is different. You might be doing the same type of work, but the change of scenery makes all the difference. Going to new places, the beautiful scenery, the history, meeting new people & always doing something different.

You’ve just started at Consulting Surveyors National (CSN) as the National Training & Development Manager. In this role you will be implementing a new training program – the Surveyors Academy. Can you firstly tell us what made you decide to move back into the learning & development space, after working within the surveying industry?

I’ve just started at CSN after leaving a position as Project Manager/Senior Surveyor at Cardno Geospatial, where I was able to work with other great surveyors to gain some hands-on experiences needed to stay up to date with processes & technologies. I was provided guidance from my business unit manager, Pierre Hartzenberg who enabled me to manage a few large state-wide & diversified projects, which has given me a great understanding on the way companies are growing & diversifying due to emerging technologies. I am hoping that I can put my experiences learnt at Cardno into creating & providing a service to our industry that meets the demands of the industry while remaining compliant with the VET packages. My role will be to design & develop the courses & resources in consultation with the industry to hopefully have the Academy & courses up and running by early 2022.

I have always been a great advocate for the promotion of our industry and as such have spent a great deal of time with other surveyors, volunteering in programs like the “Diversity in Surveying” day with ACS & the NSW Taskforce. Having a group of students that you can share your knowledge with is a rewarding feeling. Most won’t or don’t have any interest, but if you can capture the interest of just one student then you have achieved your goal. This contributed to me realising that I do my best work in the classroom. So, when CSN approached me with the idea of the Surveyors Academy, I thought why not! I always love a good challenge and I know I have industry behind me to support & guide me. I want to provide a quality service to the profession and industry that I love and that I can be proud of.

Secondly, can you tell us a little more about the new Surveyors Academy and who it is aimed for? 

The Surveyors Academy is a Vocational Education Academy that will at first provide training in the Certificate IV in Surveying & Spatial Information Services and the Diploma of Surveying to people who wish to enter or are working in the industry already. We are not here to replace TAFE, but to supplement the numbers and help students from the city and regional areas that would like to gain their qualifications. There is a skills shortage within the profession both for Technical & Registered Surveyors and we would like to help fill that void on the technical side.

What has been your proudest career achievement to date?

I’ve had a few, and two really stand out: the first is seeing my students succeeding in their chosen careers knowing that I’ve had a little hand in guiding them.

The second achievement would have to be taking myself off to the middle of nowhere with a field hand/assistant, an old canoe, my paddleboard, and a couple of marked points on my phone's google earth to guide me through bushland to find the remotes areas I needed to survey.

What do you think are the key qualities that make a successful surveyor?

An interest in the outdoors, a willingness to learn, an ability to problem solve & a can-do attitude. The rest can be taught.

You’ve taught Surveying, Engineering, Spatial & Water Operations at TAFE NSW. For those contemplating a career change or just starting out in the workforce, why do you think surveying is a great career option?

I have had students aged 16 to 65 do the courses & for so many different reasons. Some are starting out while others have wanted a career change. With Surveying, you have variety. It can take you across Australia & all over the world. Surveying is multifaceted; there are so many areas that you can branch out to. You can do your Diploma or take your studying further by doing a university degree and becoming a Registered Surveyor. Either way, you can have a fantastic career. We are also in a skills shortage for Surveyors, so you will always get a job!

You’ve just started a new Podcast on surveying! Can you tell us a little more about this? 

Yes, I have. It is called Defining Boundaries with Peta Cox. I officially launched last October. I had spent so many years at meetings & conferences speaking to so many amazing surveyors & the stories they told were so interesting. I had a little more time on my hands when I left TAFE & had always wanted to do a podcast or write a book. I figured starting with a podcast would be easier. It took me a while to bring it together but here I am nine months in and still going strong. It’s all about the lives of surveyors & spatial people & maybe a few who are close to our industry. The podcast focuses on who they are, how they got into the industry and what they have done to get to the point in their lives they are at now. It’s a chat between two people; it’s raw, honest & passionate. I wanted to showcase surveying to the world.

Do you have any career advice for young surveyors who are trying to determine the career direction they want to take within surveying? (land surveying, hydrography surveying etc.) 

You have time. Get as much experience as you can and learn from those who came before you, as sometimes they have something worthwhile to pass on. Find that little niche that interests you and that you love to do, as not everyone loves to do the same type of surveying. You will always be learning, so embrace it & enjoy the ride.

What opportunities do you see for surveyors and the industry overall in the next few years? (in terms of technology and rebuilding from COVID-19).

Surveying, the environment, spatial & digital data & technology are always changing & evolving. We need to embrace the changes. Surveyors will always be needed, there is no doubt about that, but in what capacity? People are always going to own property and buildings & infrastructure are constantly being built so the opportunities are endless!


Interested in finding out about the current surveying opportunities available? Click on the link below to see all the exciting roles our Design & Build surveying consultants are currently working on. Click here

To find out more about Consulting Surveyors National (CSN)click here