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Career Advice

How to become a Quantity Surveyor

bricksDespite the doom and gloom often cited in the media about the state of the construction industry, Quantity Surveying continues to be a path which draws huge number of people with the hope of building a solid and successful career.  It’s one of those jobs that we hear mentioned quite often but might not be 100% sure what one actually does. To clarify, a Quantity Surveyor is a professional person who works in construction and is primarily engaged in managing the costs of a project and ensuring that buildings meet legal and quality standards. They are actively engaged in a project from its earliest stages right through to its completion and operate in a number of working environments including offices and construction sites.

Below are just a few of the vast range of work activities which will be typically expected of a Quantity Surveyor:

  • The preparation of contracts

  • Carrying out feasibility studies

  • Undertaking cost analysis of a range of construction projects

  • Allocation of work to subcontractors

  • Creation of regular progress reports

What is the salary like?

The level of pay for Quantity Surveyors varies greatly depending on the size of the project they are working on and their seniority. Generally an entry level quantity surveyor will earn somewhere between £20,000 and £25,000 per year.  As you gain experience or specialise in a particular area you salary will typically rise to £35,000 – £55,000, although there is no cap on how much you can earn and some will earn much more than this.

What qualifications do you need?

Generally people who wish to enter into the profession will require a degree in Quantity Surveying which has been accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.  This course, which typically lasts for 3 years, is available from a large number of UK universities, and hopeful students should be aware that competition for places is often fierce with universities requiring multiple A grades at A level or Distinctions in the case of a BTEC National Diploma.  Universities are generally accepting of a wide range of pre-university subject courses however most will state that A-Level Mathematics is a desired qualification and GCSE English and Maths are essential.

It’s worth noting though that a number of universities are increasingly offering conversion courses for students who have completed a different degree and now wish to become a Quantity Surveyor. These postgraduate courses typically last 1-2 years and will accept graduates from any degree discipline, although those which have completed a geography, mathematics, economics or engineering will be particularly favoured.

Once you have secured employment as a quantity surveyor you will be expected to continuously update and expand upon your knowledge and experience.  You will have to pursue your RICS Assessment of Professional Competence which will be granted on satisfactory completion of 2 years work and an interview with a panel of assessors. Once this is completed you will have the right to call yourself a ‘Chartered Surveyor’.

What skills do you need?

  • A demonstrable interest in and passion for the construction industry

  • Outstanding levels of written and verbal communication are an absolutely essential

  • The ability to be persuasive and concise is of the utmost importance as much of a Quantity Surveyor’s job involves negotiating with a wide range of people

  • Ability to work as an effective member of a team and independently

  • Numeracy and IT skills will form the basis of your job so it is very important that you excel in these areas

  • You will be required to delegate and review progress of tasks so good management skills are highly desirable

  • You should be a practically-minded person who has the ability to visualise a completed project from the very earliest planning stages

  • Construction projects are often fraught with unforeseen challenges, therefore you must be a person who is pragmatic, logical and able to find solutions quickly

Tempted to start laying the foundation for your career as a Quantity Surveyor?  Best of luck and we hope that you found this brief guide helpful!  If  however you believe your talents are perhaps better suited to a different profession then take a look at our rather extensive career directory.


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