ProBoat Radio Celebrates 100th Show
For ProBoat Radio’s 100th show, panelists Steve Knox, Jonathan Klopman, and Pat Kearns discussed steps it takes to become a marine surveyor. Is there a “career ladder” for prospective surveyors?
While most career paths have specific prerequisites, marine surveying calls more for on-the-job experience. But, as Knox noted, “Some doors are only going to open to college graduates.” An example is the American Society of Appraisers, which requires a degree for membership. He added that time actually operating a boat is essential.
Klopman advised that future surveyors focus their formal education on engineering to help them understand structures and failure, recommending The Landing School in Arundel, Maine.
Knox suggested the six-week surveying course at Chapman School of Seamanship as another possibility, especially for people with a strong marine-industry background. As Kearns warned, though, Chapman isn’t the answer for people who need more in-depth knowledge. “So much of what I know is experiential,” she says. “It comes from all the time I’ve spent working on boats.”
Klopman said the harder route will pay off in the long run while Knox suggested getting to know surveyors through regional NAMS and SAMS meetings. “Find the best surveyors in your area and say, ‘I want to learn from you,’” said Klopman.
New surveyors might not understand that becoming competent takes years, not months. So why do people become surveyors? Meeting a well-respected surveyor gave Knox the impetus he needed to pursue the craft. Kearns recalled being similarly inspired after meeting Francis Wright, an early member of NAMS.
“There’s a responsibility in both directions,” Klopman said of an apprenticeship. “You ask someone to train you, so you can go into direct competition with him?” He recommends that potential apprentices offer to move to another area once they have been trained.
Finding a mentor is often key, but the move into a formal apprenticeship can be more complicated. Kearns worked on 200 boat surveys with Bolling Douglass before being told, “It’s time for you to go out on your own.” She continued her education with ABYC courses.
New surveyors might be able to connect with someone planning to retire. Knox is preparing for his exit by bringing in associates. Kearns transferred her former company in Annapolis to Susan Canfield.
While the panel acknowledged that the current job market is “brutal,” Kearns explained that there are many surveyors getting ready to retire. “What do we want their slots filled with?” she asked. “I for one would take on an apprentice right now.”
Interested in hearing more? Listen to the full discussion at ProBoat Radio.
–Barbara Jean Walsh