For Joshua Taylor, Director and owner of Subsurface Locating, completing a locating job to an accepted industry standard means doing all you can to protect people and utility assets.

“Becoming a Certified Locator is about applying the knowledge, skills and processes in the field. Having a national standard and framework to work helps safeguard professionals, as well as the clients and assets we work to protect.

“For me, safety is a number one priority.

“I see our job as contributing to that by applying our skills and knowledge and using the right equipment to locate and identify underground assets to protect them from damage, and, in turn, protect the people who will then work on the site – and the public too,” explained Joshua.

Joshua experienced a situation which highlighted the importance of applying a careful and diligent process, as well as making sure when a client hires a utility locator they check the locator is at least competent and at best a Certified Locator.

“We did a job at a school once where a construction project was underway. Despite previous attempts to locate the services on site, the school’s power and water were both cut during the works. So we were brought in to have a good look around and find what services were buried where.

“Since they already experienced issues with the previous damage, we wanted to be extra thorough. In addition to the assets we had already EMF located, we brought in the GPR to get a greater insight of what else might be hiding underground and provide that piece of mind,” said Joshua.

As with many locators, one of the aspects Joshua loves about utility locating is that every job is different, and he gets to learn and experience something new every day.

“I enjoy being able to use many different pieces of equipment, including push GPR and concrete scanners. One of the most interesting jobs involved heading to the Outback to scan for improperly filled, abandoned mine shafts,” said Joshua.

Joshua says one of the great things about locating is that when there’s skills or concepts you’re not understanding or applying properly, it’s easy to access the support to learn and brush up on your skills and knowledge.

“In the process of becoming a Certified Locator, I found I struggled a bit with locating sondes. Kim Simpson, one of the DBYD assessors, gave me some useful feedback which helped immensely in that regard,” shared Joshua.

If you’re thinking about making the move to utility locating and then getting certified, Joshua recommends doing a locating training course and finding good people in the industry to help you learn.

“This is important for becoming a good locator, as well as for learning to run a business if you’re going to work alone. Getting to know your peers in the industry can also help in finding the right equipment for a reasonable price, and obtaining work,” said Joshua.

“If you’re in doubt about locating, even after running through different methods in your skillset, pack it up.

“Locating isn’t a guessing game. Clients need to know your receiver isn’t a magic wand.

“It’s okay for someone with more experience, or additional equipment such as a hydrovac truck, to get involved and complete a job safely,” added Joshua.

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Subsurface Locating on Instagram and visit their website.

In addition to operating Subsurface Locating, Joshua also moonlights with South East Scanning.

After nine years of surveying and working with utility locators, Leyton Varley finally decided to give into his curiosity about locating.

“I approached the Head of Utilities at work and my manager about my interest in locating. They both loved the idea of me progressing my career and learning a new skill,” said Leyton.

It was a change in direction that Leyton hasn’t regretted.

“Becoming a locator has brought new opportunities to learn, grow and excel within an evolving construction industry. It’s also opened new pathways for both my career and at work that I never imagined,” said Leyton.

Leyton is a Senior Surveyor and Utility Locator with Survey Management Solutions, in Melbourne, Victoria. He says the most challenge aspect of the job is dealing with distorted signals. On the flipside, his favourite thing about being a locator is the problem solving and playing a role in protecting his colleagues from harm.

“Safety is extremely important to me. It’s also key pillar of our company and our highest priority on any work site.

“Being able to locate and protect underground services from accidental damage brings me great satisfaction – it means I’m protecting workmates and others from harm. With construction being a high-risk industry, nothing’s more important than going home to your loved ones every night,” said Leyton.

Taking care at work certainly applied to Leyton in one instance. He recalled his most dangerous encounter to date was with a huge brown snake he uncovered curled up in a Telstra pit.

“Safe to say this pit was UTO (unable to open) that day! Maybe I should’ve clamped it to see if it had a trace,” joked Leyton.

Locating is often likened to detective work, it involves problem solving, exploring and unearthing interesting finds, as Leyton has discovered.

“We carried out a QL-A and QL-B locate and survey job in a main street of Collingwood, alongside saw-cutting and NDD (non-destructive digging) workers. What made this job so interesting was seeing multiple layers of old bluestone that was still there well below the existing surface.

“It was fascinating to see the remnants of an old Melbourne street – and many unknown services too!” said Leyton.

In becoming a locator, Leyton also sought to take the next step and become a Certified Locator. His approach was to go slow and make sure he was prepared for each stage of his training and certification.

“I didn’t rush into the certification program. I made sure I was diligent with my work and training, so I was well prepared for the exams.

“Being a surveyor, I took the slower route, managing both survey work and locating training together. I believe the extra time I took meant I was ready for the tests and made me a better locator in the long run.

“Learning from quality, experienced locators made all the difference too,” said Leyton.

Congratulations on becoming a Certified Locator Leyton! With more than 900 Certified Locators across Australia, you’re part of the solution that helps keep site crews safe – and prevents damage to underground utilities.

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Leyton on LinkedIn.

Connect with Survey Management Solutions on LinkedIn.


Beau Atkinson, Service Locator, maybe a relative newbie to utility locating, but that didn’t stop him from quickly moving onto the next step and becoming a Certified Locator.

The importance of safety seems second nature to Beau who says becoming certified was about the recognition of his commitment to locating and doing it to the best of his ability.

“Becoming a Certified Locator gives me a sense of pride in being able to give people peace of mind, so they can go home safe at the end of the day. It also means making sure I can watch my kids grow up,” said Beau.

It sounds like that pride also comes from working with a great team. Beau says his favourite thing about locating is the company he works for, Georadar Australia.

When you’re a utility locator you get to visit lots of interesting and different sites and locations across Australia. With work based around central Queensland, Beau has seen many scenic spots including the stunning Carnarvon Gorge in the Central Highlands.

“I see so many picturesque places. But Carnarvon Gorge would have to be up there!” said Beau.

Locators are never short a of story about interesting or unusual location experiences. For Beau, it was doing a job outside the rural town of Rolleston.

“I was on a job locating earths for Ergon. I was locating a HV (high voltage) earth due to high resistance. It turns out the farmer put his shiny new gate through the earth in two different spots!” said Beau.

A great reminder to always check what’s below no matter how remote you think you are from utility services. Using the services of a Certified Locator is the safe way to go about it.

If you’re interested on becoming a Certified Locator, Beau’s tips are not to overthink the process.

“Listen to the experts and don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions,” said Beau.

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Beau on Facebook

Connect with Georadar Australia on LinkedIn and Facebook

Being able to locate any part of North Queensland is paradise says Russell Fry, Managing Director at Groundvac.  

“We’ve got so many beaches. It’s my favourite place to work. Although, I get very conflicted about being at work when the weather is excellent for fishing,” said Russell.

Unfortunately, not all locations are quite so paradisaical. Sometimes Russell and his team have to locate live water lines where they can get thoroughly drenched trying to sonde or get a traceable rod into position.

Despite some of the environmental challenges, Russell loves being a locator.

“I enjoy the problem solving and using the variety of techniques required to achieve as much certainty as possible. I also like to see how accurate we are – we use our vac trucks to then do the physical locate to check.

Safety is also a very important aspect of our job. If you don’t work safely – nothing else matters,” said Russell.

Russell has been a locator for two years and recently took the next step to become a Certified Locator. He saw this an opportunity to not only expand the range of services the business offers but to also provide a more comprehensive range.

In preparing for the certification process, Russell said the most challenging part was the idea of doing the assessment.

“While preparing for an assessment can be daunting, if you put in the effort and follow the procedure, you’ll be fine,” said Russell.

Russell’s other tip for locators interested in becoming certified is to get experience.

“Practical experience is a must, there is no substitute,” said Russell.

Congratulations Russell on becoming a Certified Locator. With as little as 860 Certified Locators across Australia, you’re now part of a unique group recognised for applying a high-level of locating skills and knowledge to help protect Australia’s utility network from damage and contribute to a safer workplace.

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Russell on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Connect with Groundvac on LinkedIn and Facebook.




Meet Kane Anderson – who recently became a Certified Locator. Working with Western Australia’s largest utility location and surveying company, Abaxa, Kane gets to work in all sorts of interesting places – from stunning remote locations to complex city buildings.

“Each location I’ve been to – from quiet camp sites and lakes to high-rise city buildings and hospitals – have all had something different to offer,” Kane says.

“Although one of my more memorable experiences was doing a locate at a cattle station where I decided to quickly jump over a wire fence to reach a pit. Turned out that fence was electric. I got a shock in a spot that was a little too close for comfort,” Kane shared.

Apart from the interesting and different locations, Kane enjoys the versatility of his locating work and solving problems on difficult jobs. He strives to always do his best to solve issues, never make assumptions and enjoys being able to help clients progress with their projects.

Becoming a Certified Locator was a natural next step. While Kane finds the field work comes easily to him, it was the theory side of the certification process that he found more challenging.

“Becoming certified and being recognised for my knowledge and skills was great for my self-belief and confidence.

“It’s great to have a process that recognises my abilities to locate all types of assets as well as my understanding of how underground infrastructure systems work,” Kane said.

What tip would Kane give a locator thinking to be certified? “Go for it. If you like what you do and you’re good at it then becoming a Certified Locator is great,” Kane advised. Congratulations Kane on becoming a Certified Locator. With just more than 850 Certified Locators across Australia, you join a unique group who are recognised for meeting the minimum industry best practice requirements and demonstrating high-level of locating skills and knowledge.

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Kane on LinkedIn.

When asked what’s the best thing about being a utility locator, Matthew Fuller explained it’s a work environment where there is always something to learn.

“Every day is different. Not just different work sites. There are different problems to solve and different utilities to locate. No two days are the same,” Matt said.

Based in South Australia, Matt says he finds locating at substations the most fascinating.

‘There’s always a lot going on. Old stuff, new stuff. Earthing grids. My head spins every time,” Matt said.

“Although one of the strangest locates was to cut off an old water service to Yatala prison (Northfield, SA) and install a new one for the new prison upgrade.

“We had so much trouble locating the old cast iron service, we ended up vac’ing a hole large enough to fit someone who could then actually hold the direct connect clip on the main. We then discovered the service trunked in three separate connections. Not quite what we were expecting,” said Matt.

With October being National Safe Work Month, we asked Matt what safety means to him when out locating.

“Safety is always at the front of my mind. We all want to go home safe. I always look to keep worksites free of trip hazards, by not leaving things laying around. We also make sure we use our pit barriers,” Matt said.

Matt has been locating for two years and this year he went for his certification and passed. Now a Certified Locator, Matt said achieving this national recognition is a must if you’re serious about locating.

“It’s a requirement now for most work sites. If you’re interested in locating, I recommend completing a training course and getting experience before attempting certification.

“For me, becoming Certified means credibility,” Matt said.  

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.  

With five years of locating experience under his belt Aaron Soetens, from Dynamic Hydro Excavations, decided to go next level and become a Certified Locator.

“With locating I’m always learning something new. So, it made sense to take the next step and get that formal recognition.

“With the support of my workplace I’m now part of our industry’s effort to promote locating best practice and set myself apart from DIY locators,” explains Aaron.

One of the best things Aaron finds about locating is also one of his most challenging – and that’s distortion caused by multiple underground services.

“When there’s banks of conduits criss-crossing over each other’s path, it causes interference and overcoming that makes for a more challenging locate. But then that’s part of the problem-solving aspect that I enjoy about mapping services,” said Aaron.

“The job also takes me to some really cool and interesting places like old building sites, huge warehouses and even the odd adventure to a subtropical island,” said Aaron.

The job also has its moments. One of those was coming face-to-face with a brown snake when working in a pit. Knowing his own limits, Aaron called on the services of snake catcher to ‘relocate’ the curious critter.

While taking care of personal safety is a priority, so too is contributing to workplace safety and making sure any locate job is carried out with care and attention to detail.

“For me it’s not just about the satisfaction of doing the job right, it’s also about keeping my work mates safe so they also get home safe. Delivering safe and best locating practice is a priority for us,” said Aaron.

When asked about any tips for others interested in locating or becoming certified, Aaron says the more training the better – and recommends getting that certification and help cut out the cowboys.

Congratulations Aaron on becoming a Certified Locator. You’re now part of a small but growing community who delivers locating best practice and help protect the complex underground network that delivers essential services to cities, towns and regional and remote communities across Australia.

Find out more about becoming a Certified Locator here.

To contact a Certified Locator for your next project search here.

Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn.