Hydrographic Survey Category B Course

recognized by the International Hydrographic Organization

Category B training, offered by the CIDCO, covers all aspects of hydrography: geodesy, positioning, underwater acoustics, bathymetry, tides and water levels, hydrographic data management.

This course offers students a quality training based on a combination of theoretical learning and practical fieldwork.

The training is recognized by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO, Category B) and meets the S-5 standard of competence for hydrographers.

Upon completion of the training, a certificate is issued attesting to the successful completion of an IHO recognized Category B training program.

There is currently a strong industry demand for hydrographers to conduct an increasing number of hydrographic surveys. Whether it is offshore, coastal or inland, the marine industry (dredging, construction) or the petroleum industry, hydrographic surveying companies are quickly growing.

IHO-accredited training can give you the ability to work around the world in a rapidly growing and sustainable field.

As a Class B Hydrographer you will be working for companies or government agencies that have quality standards recognized by the IHO or by the industry itself.


Admission Requirements:

  • Have a technical diploma in surveying, geomatics or equivalent;


  • Have a university degree (B.Sc.) in surveying/geomatics.


  • Have a university degree (B.Sc.) in a field related to geomatics and have relevant experience in geomatics and/or hydrography.


  • Have a university degree (M.Sc.) in a domain related to geomatics and have relevant experience in geomatics and/or hydrography.

Student applications must include evidence of prior geomatics training in the following disciplines for at least two years:

  • Geodesy and surveying ;
  • Information Technology;
  • GIS and Spatial Data Analysis;
  • Applied mathematics and statistics for geomatics applications;
  • Satellite positioning (GNSS).

The student's application must include:

  • The transcript showing that the student has validated the key geomatics courses with a grade of at least 60%;
  • The detailed syllabus of the program from which he/she graduated;
  • A CV including the title(s) of the position(s), the name(s) of the company and professional records showing relevant experience in hydrography;
  • All relevant hydrography-related diplomas.

Acceptance into CIDCO's training program will be based on a file review. Additional information such as references may be requested. An entrance exam and/or interview may be held if the selection committee is not completely satisfied with the information provided by the applicant and to confirm that the applicant has the appropriate academic and/or professional background for admission.

Send us the documents by email to: formation@cidco.ca

For more information, please contact the person in charge of the training, Mr. Mohamed-Ali Chouaer by email at mohamed-ali.chouaer@cidco.ca or at +1 418-725-1732 extension 1890.

The CIDCO hydrographic survey training is delivered over a 40-week period and consists of three main parts. The theoretical part, the practical field exercises and the Final Field Project (FFP). The theoretical part of the course is given in "e-learning" formula. It takes place over a period of 33 weeks, from October of each year to mid-June of the following year. In total, 9 modules are covered during the theoretical training. It is composed of weekly hours supervised by CIDCO teachers who explain the important concepts of the lessons (readings) and who lead the students to apply the theoretical knowledge and to complete the theoretical component (practical exercises and tutorials).

For each module, participants are required to complete assignments to assess the knowledge acquired during the theoretical and practical sessions. Evaluation is also done through quizzes after each lesson and exams that must be taken throughout the e-learning period of the program.

The practical field exercises (2 weeks) take place at the Rimouski marina and on the St-Lawrence River. Their objective is to put into practice the theoretical concepts acquired during the theoretical training and allow the students to work with and manipulate the different hydrographic equipment.

The Final Field Project (FFP) lasts 5 weeks and takes place in class and in the field, at the Rimouski marina and on the St. Lawrence River. The FFP represents the culmination of the training where students will perform various hydrographic survey tasks. They plan their data acquisition, acquire different hydrographic data, process the data and produce the corresponding products, all under the supervision of the CIDCO teachers.

To provide students with the theoretical and practical basis

This training aims to provide students with the theoretical and practical bases to enable them to carry out surveys as hydrographers and to control their quality. The employment profile of the graduates is as follows:

–   Hydrographer on major survey vessels for marine chart update missions or off-shore surveys for industry;

–   Hydrographer on small hydrographic survey units for localized survey operations (harbors, coastal dynamics studies, inland waters, support to a large scale survey operation)

The course learning outcomes are:

  • Knowledge of the marine environment in the context of hydrographic surveys;
  • Knowledge of the implementation of hydrographic systems (single and multibeam sonar, positioning system, inertial unit, tide gauges, submersible systems (positioning system, autonomous submersible system, remote telemetry system, acoustic imagery) and the evaluation of data quality;
  • Ability to install a hydrographic system on a vessel;
  • Perform a survey to a certain level of quality while respecting safety regulations;
  • Perform data processing using appropriate software (digital seabed model, acoustic imaging).

- Part 1: e-learning, for 9 months.

For this type of training you will have access to:

  • The online teaching platform, which includes videos, theoretical content, self-assessment quizzes, an impressive amount of data from specialized programs illustrating the main concepts of each module;
  • Simulation programs;
  • GNSS positioning data that can be manipulated in RTKLIB;
  • Data layers that can be manipulated in QGIS;
  • Access to the CIDCO server for bathymetric data processing on professional software (Caris HISP&SIPS);
  • Webinars;
  • Support from CIDCO experts.


Module Description:

Geodesy and Spatial Referencing – GSR

Content outline:

The part devoted to geodesy (geometrical, physical, map projections) is, in view of the entry requirements, a refreshing module. The Least square theory, with example of usage in hydrography is detailed in the second part. A refreshing module on land surveying with focus to hydrographic measurements is done in the third part. It is followed by a comprehensive study of spatial referencing of mobile survey systems hybrid measurements (Positioning,  Plateform attitudes, range measurement by single and multibeam echo sounders and LiDAR). This part includes a description of the different frames (local geodetic, survey plateform body frame, sensor frames) and associated transformation between these frames.

The main learning outcomes of GSR are:

Describe geodetic reference systems in use and achieve transformations between geodetic systems; Perform geodetic line computation and map projections. Measure and adjust survey control data from angle and distance measurement devices. Understand mobile mapping concepts and associated frames, perform data spatial referencing from hybrid measurements of position, orientation and ranging.


Positioning – POS

Content outline:

Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). This part presents the fundamentals of GNSS and describes the GPS, GLONASS, GALILE and BEIDOU system. The module introduce the use of RTKLIB, a free software for GNSS post-processing. Statistical tools details the statistical analysis of least square solution, with application to hydrographic problems. A detailed presentation of Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) comprises principles, practical alignement of INS, the problem of heave estimation, and INS/GNSS hybrid systems. Subsea positioning presents the principle of acoustic positioning , including Short baselines, Ultra Short base lines, Long base lines.

The main learning outcomes of POS are:

To operate a hybrid positioning system and to perform positioning quality control. To differentiate the main GNSS modes and interpret quality factor in relation to sources of errors. To describe the principle of acoustic positioning system, to perform LBL and USBL calibration. Understand the concepts of inertial navigation systems, perform the static and dynamic alignment of an INS, describe heave measurement principle and sources of errors.

Environnement - ENV

Content outline:

Physical oceanography, composition of sea water and its influence on acoustic propagation; Marine geology gives the fundamental of seabed composition, sediments and deposition, seabed sampling techniques ; Marine geophysics outline the main types and applications of seismic surveys, gravity surveys, and magnetic surveys.

The main learning outcomes of ENV are:

To understand the role of ocean physical parameters observations in support to a hydrographic survey, global/coastal ocean circulation and sediment transport principles To describe magnetic and gravity surveys To describe seismic surveys and the role of surface and acoustic positioning

Tides and Water Levels – TID

Content outline:

Tide theory, the origin of tide raising forces, tidal regimes. Tide measurement, different technology of tide gauges. Tide prediction. Introduction to tide modeling and usage of tide prediction tools . Sounding reduction techniques from tide information and depth measurements.

The main learning outcomes of TID are:

To describe the static tide theory, identify tidal regimes and harmonic constituents of a tide prediction model To use tide prediction models and to be aware of non tidal effects on water levels To deploy, calibrate and use tide poles and tide gauges To describe chart datums  and separation models.

Bathymetry – BAT

Content outline:

Underwater acoustics, acoustic transducers, propagation of sound in sea water; Single beam echo sounders; Side scan sonars; Multibeam echosounders; Bathymetric LiDAR;

The main learning outcomes of BAT are:

To set-up a bathymetric measurement system, with the knowledge of oceanographic data and seafloor composition; To interpret water column data and sounders returns of a bathymetric system from the knowledge of acoustic parameters and environmental conditions; To calibrate, apply quality control procedure of acoustic depth measurement systems. To set and optimize on-line acoustic parameters of a bathymetric system; To calibrate and set the acoustic parameters of a seafloor imaging system; interpret seafloor imaging for obstructions search; To describe several non acoustic bathymetry techniques.

Nautical Science -NSC

Content outline:

• Meteorology;
• Seamanship;
• Survey operation and safety at sea;
• Navigation;
• Communications at sea.

The main learning outcomes of NsC are:
1. To understand the content of a nautical chart, the impact of data quality on a chart and plot points, routes on a chart
2. To get awareness of safety and emergency procedures on surveys vessels
3. To describe and practice instrument mooring, launching and recovery
4. To describe the main meteorological elements and to produce a short term forecast based on observations

Hydrography – HYD

Content outline:

This module details the methodology of different types of surveys, review the quality standards which apply to survey data, and describes the different types of survey system and their integration to survey vessels.

Risk of grounding,  different types of hydrographic surveys, introduction to depth measurements; Survey systems and survey methodologies; Data uncertainty, data quality standards ; Data acquisition system, integration of hydrographic survey systems; Products and reports.

The main learning outcomes of HYD are:

To execute a survey plan, for various types of hydrographic surveys To understand survey specifications and to check their adequacy with a survey system To install, set-up and calibrate a survey system To understand the source of errors of a survey system and to execute quality control procedure To produce survey documentation

Hydrographic Data Processing and Management – HDPM

Content outline:

Hydrographic data management comprises data processing and  is presented together with professional software tools, like CARIS HIPS/SIPS. The module includes the concepts of GIS, and practicals make uses of the freeware QGIS.

Raw data and acquisition systems; Hydrographic data processing principle; Single and multibeam echosounder system data processing; Side scan sonar imagery; GIS; Hydrographic data format, data exchange and nautical charts.

The main learning outcomes of HDM are:

To process swath echo-sounder systems data from raw data to digital terrain models, in particular to be able to detect systematic errors, and apply data quality assessment methods To process SBES data, apply interpolation methods and evaluate DTM uncertainty To process (compensation, mosaics) side-scan sonar and interpret side-scan images To integrate survey data into a GIS,  structure survey data, and manage metadata. Produce minutes of bathymetry.

Law of the sea – LA

Content outline:

This module presents the essential of the United Nation Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) related to hydrographic activities. It also comprise a description of contract in the framework of hydrographic data production.

UNCLOS, delimitations; Liability of the Hydrographic Surveyor

The main learning outcomes of LAW are:

Understand the legal aspects related to the work of the hydrographic surveyor (contractual considerations and legal liability) Describe the international legal framework in which the hydrographic survey takes place


- Part 2: Practical exercises (2 weeks) on the St. Lawrence River, in Rimouski, Quebec, Canada.

For the practical exercises (2 weeks), students will perform many specific exercises under the supervision of CIDCO tutors. They will receive the theory associated with these exercises in the form of refresher/revision courses and lectures given by CIDCO instructors.


- Part 3: Final Field Project (5 weeks), on the St. Lawrence River, in Rimouski, Quebec, Canada.

The Final Field Project (FFP), which lasts 5 weeks, represents the culmination of the training. 

The work is done in class and in the field (Rimouski marina, St. Lawrence River). 

Students have at their disposal a number of hydrographic equipments, specialized software and the CIDCO hydrographic vessel.


Les résultats d’apprentissage du Projet Final sont :

  • Plan and organize data acquisition tasks for a hydrographic survey;
  • Consider hydrographic instructions and detailed specifications for acquisition, processing and quality control;
  • Produce different types of data and perform quality analysis to meet standards;
  • Provide hydrographic products from acquired data;
  • Write reports and survey documentation.


    Application deadline (2024-2025 session): June 30, 2024

    E-learning GSR Geodesy and Geo-referencing October - December
    POS Positioning
    ENV Environment
    TID Tide and water levels January - March
    BAT Bathymetry
    NSC Nautical Science
    HYD Hydrography March - May
    HDPM Hydrographic Data Processing and Management
    LA Legal Aspects
    On site (Rimouski)      
    PFCT Practical exercise & Final field project (7 weeks) June - July

    Fees 2024-2025

    Note: an administrative fee of $100 will be charged for the analysis of your file. This fee will be deducted from the final amount if you are accepted and complete your training.

      Payment deadline Costs
    -- Deposit (non-refundable) upon admission 1 000.00$
    -- Payment 1 October 1st 5 560.00 $
    -- Payment 2 January 1st 5 560.00 $
    -- Payment 3 April 1st 5 560.00 $
    TOTAL   17 680 $CAD*

    *Costs include GST and QST and are in Canadian dollars. The costs are relative to the training and exclude all living expenses (accommodation, food, transportation) for the on-site training.


    Transfer of funds, by check or credit card via PayPal.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the employment prospects in the field?

    They are very good and very varied. Indeed, there is a strong market demand for hydrographers.

    Is it possible for someone who is not a Canadian resident to take the training?

    Certainly, the remote part will be done from your place of residence and you will only have to travel for the 7 weeks of residence including the field project and exams. For this, we will provide you with the necessary documents and support for your visa application.

    How do I know if I have the prerequisites to be admitted to the course?

    You must send us a scanned copy of your training diplomas.


    About Rimouski

    Bordered by the majestic St. Lawrence River on nearly 50 km, Rimouski is characterized by its double identity of regional capital of the Bas-Saint-Laurent and oceanographic capital of Quebec.

    BSL_Tout ça.