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Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors
American Boat & Yacht Council
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|How to become a Marine Surveyor
Keep in mind that there are many routes into this business and my opinions expressed below are just that, my opinions.
Many surveyors come in to the business after years of experience working on boat mechanical, electrical, structural systems, gasoline and diesel engines. by the time they turn to surveying they should have acquired a good general knowledge of the structure and every system in the boat and some have exceptional knowledge of particular areas.The smarter ones realize early on that they don't know everything and continuing education is one of the keys to a successful surveying career. Continuing education is mandatory for all SAMS® members. Unfortunately the majority of surveyors in Ontario seem to disagree as it's the same twenty or so faces I see at all the courses I take.
|The American Boat & Yacht Council calendar of invaluable courses covers most areas of interest to surveyors
but there are few direct educational paths
to surveying other than a distance learning
degree course at State University of New York, a online distance learning degree from
IMMS in England, an elementary six week course
at Chapman School of Seamanship in Florida or LLoyds Maritime Academy and a few other small private schools (none
There are also a few mail order / online courses where you can purchase a manual with an exam on the back page and after you transfer the answers from the text to the exam page you can call yourself a Certified Accredited Master Marine Surveyor. You can get those type of "credentials" from people like Association of Certified Marine Surveyors or Navtech United States Sureyors Association who also offer your first certificate for FREE ! I There are several other outfits of similar ilk and you can find those via Google. Once in a while you can also find a CD on E-bay for under $10.00 that purports to contain everything you need to know to become a marine surveyor. or you can join the "American Registry of Marine Surveyors" for about $225US, this outfit is run by a fella kicked out of SAMS & NAMS. Or you can spend a few hundred dollars to become a "Documented Marine Surveyor" complete with an official looking gold shield and I.D.card
You can do it that way or you can do it right.
Don Robertsons Marine Market Place keeps a calendar of marine educational seminars that may be informative
You will find it very difficult to gain ground in this profession if you don't already have a good understanding of rigging, AC and DC electrical systems, galvanic corrosion, stray current corrosion, gasoline and diesel engines and their fuel systems, hydraulics, mechanicals, air conditioning, LPG, CNG, electronics and plumbing. Plumbing on a boat refers not only to the system that provides water at the sink but also piping for anti-siphon systems for waste, fuel and bilge pumping arrangements. A reasonable understanding of polymer chemistry is also required as that is the foundation of fiber re-inforced plastic boats. An understanding of the various construction methods of vessels is also essential.
Assuming you already have a technical bent in the various boat disciplines, the very first test you should give yourself to determine if you have a future in surveying is to join the American Boat & Yacht Council and purchase their "Standards and Technical Information Reports for Small Craft". These 1,000 or so pages of ABYC® Standards cover virtually every system in a pleasure craft. Some ABYC® Standards are technically voluntary, but they are routinely accepted in North American courts as "the" marine standard. If you get into surveying, sooner or later you will be going to court (sooner for some than others). The other publication you must be familiar with in Canada is Transport Canada TP1332E, "Construction Standards for Small Vessels" (under 24 metres), this document is the law in Canada and also details which of the 31 ABYC® Standards are law in Canada. As some of the boats you will survey will be get shipped to the US you must also have a thorough understanding of the United States Code of Federal Regulations Title 33 and Title 46 as these are the US legal requirements roughly equivalent to TP1332E.
I think it is clear that a complete understanding of ABYC® and Transport Canada standards are required before you even think about getting business cards made up.
There are many surveyors who claim on their websites that they suvey to TP1332 ans ABYC® Standards but do not show up on the ABYC® membership roster. How did they get the standards in the first place ? Check the ABYC® membership roster on line to see if they are even members.
There are many other standards out there, CSA, UL, SAE, NFPA 302, CE and more however I believe you can make a very good start with ABYC®, TP1332E and the CFR's.
Even the semantics of the trade can be confusing but a clear understanding is key to effective communication. Many terms are sprinkled liberally around the docks without much understanding of what they actually mean i.e. seaworthy, osmosis, ground, grounding, bonding, electrolysis, topsides and some words you are familiar with such as ceiling, shelf, and buttock have entirely different meanings in vessel structure. There are a number of nautical dictionaries available along with this Surveyors Lexicon of Nautical Terminology.
If you are still interested in pursuing this I'd suggest that you start collecting the reports of other surveyors. Before I started, I asked everyone I knew for a copy of their survey. I eventually collected about 200 survey reports. I saw dozens of reports that were little more than inventories and many with grossly obvious errors. On studying these reports I kept coming back to the same two surveyors who covered everything in much more detail, more thoroughly and with much more knowledge than the others. I decided to model my approach after theirs and wish to express my thanks to David Buchanan AMS® and Peter McGuire AMS® for providing that direction (unknowingly ).
The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS®) offers a path to Accreditation that will take approximately 5 years to work your way through from an SA (Survey Associate) and be subject to annual reviews of your work until you pass the Accreditation Exam.
If all this seems a bit daunting you can also do what so many others have done and simply go get some business cards and start advertising. To raise your game a little you can join one of the several Certification/Accreditation outfits whose main criteria for acceptance is that your cheque clears. Some even have nice websites and some have "comprehensive" requirements for certification but if you dig a little deeper you will find that as long as you send them money, they will send you a certificate with some kind of title. Take look at a BoatUS® article on one of these outfits. Just Google "become a marine surveyor" or search the same phrase on E-Bay. In there somewhere you will find a shortcut to a successful new career.
Just for fun you can take a look at some pretty bad survey reports on Sample Survey Reports or check out the links below for other options.
Professional Boat Builder Magazine
is hands down, the best boating magazine in the business. They also run online (podcast) discussion panels like this one on How to Become a Marine Surveyor.
American Boat and Yacht Council®
Invest in these standards. If you can understand these you have a fair shot at becoming a surveyor. Without this understanding you are beat or you can be one of those with the "purchased" titles.
Transport Canada TP1332E
These legally required standards will direct you to other Transport Canada standards and are mandaory in Canada yet a lot of surveyors and one builder of repute don't even know they exist !.
Chapmans School of Seamanship
A six week elementary course in Florida for the aspiring surveyor.
SUNY Maritime College (State University of New York)
Distance learning diploma program, very highly regarded instructors.
Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors®
A five year program and continuing education requirements for the rest of your life. My opinion .... SAMS® has more of a focus on pleasurecraft and NAMS on commercial . SAMS® and NAMS are the only two universally recognised organizations by people like Professional Boat Builder Magazine, BoatUS® and all insurance companies.
National Association of Marine Surveyors
A five year program to Certification and continuing education requirements for the rest of your life. My opinion ...NAMS has more of a focus on commercial craft.
Don Robertson Marine Market Place
A calendar of seminars for marine surveyors.
Start collecting Sample Marine Survey Reports from as many sources as you can. Review them closely and decide what kind of surveyor you want to be ... The good, the bad or the ugly..
Boating Forums - You can also search through all the boating forums as everyone has an opinion on this subject.