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Becoming a Boat Surveyor

Old 01-09-2020, 08:48 PM
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Default Becoming a Boat Surveyor

My job leaves me with a lot of free time, roughly 6 months a year, and I am looking for something to do in my spare time. I know the surveyor market is full of qualified surveyors, but the few that i have talked to said that they turn down jobs on a regular basis because they are so busy. Obviously experience and exposure has a lot to do with how busy any given surveyor is vs someone who is doing it part time, but there still must be money to be made. The fact that it would be piecemeal work makes it more attractive to me, and without the massive overhead that running charters part time would have.

Has anyone done the Chapman School 6 week course? it isnt cheap, $4500 plus housing, but it seems to be pretty comprehensive in getting all the required certifications. Only issue i would have is that I dont have 6 weeks of time off in a row.
Old 01-10-2020, 12:20 AM
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Chapmans is only the start. Going there is not a guarantee you will be accepted into SAMS. If you are, then you have your dues, all your insurance costs, software, ABYC membership, travel and class/meeting expenses for CE's which are mandatory. But you must really know the marine world on top of it. Many think they know boats but what knowledge is needed to be a GOOD surveyor is fairly extensive.
Old 01-10-2020, 05:40 AM
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If you can get your SAMS or NAMS surveyor certification, and are otherwise qualified to be a true marine surveyor, there are lots of established surveyors who need help for overflow work, which would fit far better into your availability.
If you are free about 6 months a year, it means for half the year you are completely unavailable - that frankly won't work as a business model, as most people and businesses expect their surveyor to pick up the phone immediately and get the job done very quickly.
Old 01-10-2020, 06:03 AM
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Like LI32 I think a part time approach is going to be tricky. That means you'll go through all of the work of getting accredited to only be able to pick up some odds and ends jobs here and there, I don't know any brokers or boat buyers who would be interested in using a surveyor repeatedly who was unavailable half the year when there are so many qualified ones with good histories who are full time.

Since the part time model makes long term recurring relationships difficult you'll then have to spend a bunch of money on marketing when you ARE available to generate new business, and generally winning new customers is more expensive and more difficult than maintaining existing relationships which you can't do part time.
Old 01-10-2020, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by LI32 View Post
If you can get your SAMS or NAMS surveyor certification, and are otherwise qualified to be a true marine surveyor, there are lots of established surveyors who need help for overflow work, which would fit far better into your availability.
If you are free about 6 months a year, it means for half the year you are completely unavailable - that frankly won't work as a business model, as most people and businesses expect their surveyor to pick up the phone immediately and get the job done very quickly.
I've been a marine surveyor 33 years. Everybody wants to be a surveyor and thinks it's easy. I've heard it hundreds of times.... "I've been around boats all my life. Now that I'm retiring from ___ I think I'll try marine surveying as a part time retirement job." It is tough to get started, and doubly tough to do it part time.

As LI32 said you may be able to get an established surveyor interested in taking you on. At one time I had five surveyors working for me. It wasn't clear from your post whether you have a lot of free time throughout the year or if you truly have months at a time when you aren't working. Seems to be the former since you don't have 6 weeks to go to Chapman's.

If you are serious send me a PM and we'll talk.
Old 01-10-2020, 08:42 PM
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All good info.

I have 4 weeks off at a time, my schedule is 28 on 28 off. During my time off I have no work obligations. When i am at work I work 28 days straight offshore, completely unavailable.

This thought is still in the infancy stage, I have free time and figured with the rather piecemeal nature of the job that it could work out for odd jobs here and there. Hadnt considered working under an established surveyor, but that is definitely on my radar now.
Old 01-12-2020, 10:39 AM
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You will need a mentor for 5 years so you may as well work under someone very good. My mentor, Jeff Johnson #007 God rest his beautiful soul, was from Main but wintered in my area. He would take my calls day or night and really helped me get started. There is also a scholarship program in SAMS that awards a Chapmans tuition to the best qualified SA annually that you should look into. Regional meetings will start happening soon. Go to the SAMS website and check the calendar for your area. The regional would be a great place to meet people who may be in a position and mind set to help as well as get you familiarized with the whole thing. That is where I met Jeff.

Hope you can type fast and dont mind hours on hours upon more hours of (endless) paperwork. It ain't all sunshine and pretty girls is it Steve?!. One son and his wingman are in my Nautique doing flips and cruising chicks at Keywadin and the other son is on his poling skiff with a fly rod chasing snook and reds on this lovely Sunday in Florida. I'm at my desk trying to catch up on reports. Se la Vie.
Old 01-12-2020, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CapPhil View Post
All good info.

I have 4 weeks off at a time, my schedule is 28 on 28 off. During my time off I have no work obligations. When i am at work I work 28 days straight offshore, completely unavailable.
.....
Most here aren't familiar with the industry you work in, nor the experience that comes with being unlimited oceans master. My question is why would you want to mess with the pleasure boat market with surveying? I think you would be shocked at the money they make on a per hour basis (meaning, it's low).

Use your experience and credentials and play with the big boys: ABS, DNV, Lloyds, etc. See if you can ease into that commercial market that will build off your experience instead of you showing up to a completely different ballgame that is filled with too many boyscouts that call themselves "capt" on their business card.

Example: I know a mate that regularly does load line and cargo surveys. I'm not sure if he sails full time these days. There are also other consulting firms out there that often need variable workforce. I would stick to what you know, not try to go play in a different sandbox that literally has smaller toys and more amateurs.

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