The Role of a Quantity Surveyor
Published: 18 Dec 2013
What does a surveyor do?
As the construction industry grows, more and more skilled roles are becoming available, especially in positions like quantity surveyor. Quantity surveyors are responsible for the cost of any building project - from initial estimates, right through to the final acquisition of materials. Surveying jobs and their associated roles are varied - but focussed on providing clients value for money while adhering to the strict regulations which govern every aspect of the construction industry.
The day to day responsibilities of include roles inside the office, on the construction site - or in meetings with clients and other project personnel. While the very nature of construction work ensures no two projects are ever the same, a typical work day might involve:
- preparation of contracts, including details regarding quantities of required materials
- on-going cost analysis of maintenance and repair work
- feasibility studies of client requests
- analysing completed work and arranging payment to contractors
- allocating upcoming work to contractors
- site visits, assessments and projections for future work
Quantity surveyors may choose to specialize in a specific area of the construction industry - and focus on areas like property taxation, costing advice, maintenance of existing buildings and application to funding sources.
A quantity surveyor must hold an appropriate qualification, either a relevant university degree or a professional accreditation from the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors. Relevant university courses include those in surveying, construction and civil and structural engineering. The RICS website hosts a list of university courses which applicants can choose from to begin their path towards a career in quantity surveying. Each undergraduate course takes from three to four years of full time study to complete.
Graduates of degrees outside the RICS' approved list have the option of taking a postgraduate conversion course to transfer their existing qualifications into the construction industry. Postgraduate conversion courses normally take a year of full time study to complete.
It is possible to move into an associated role in surveying without a RICS accredited degree. Technical surveyors, for example, are well placed to transfer their skills into a quantity surveying role but will still need to complete a degree for a professional position in that discipline, possibly over a period of part time study.
Starting positions in quantity surveying normally come with annual salaries of £20,000 to £25,000. Experienced surveyors can expect to see this amount rise over the course of their careers to anything from £30,000 to £45,000. In the trade's most senior positions, quantity surveyors may attain salaries reaching £50,000 to £60,000 a year.
Becoming a surveyor is about more than having the relevant academic experience. Employers will expect applicants to be excellent communicators and possess impressive numeracy skills to handle the financial and mathematical demands of the role. Given the demands of the construction world and its frequent challenges, you should demonstrate innovative approaches to problem solving and an ability to negotiate across the various levels of any construction environment.
Obviously, a passion for the construction trade and knowledge of the wider industry are qualities which should make employers take notice - prospective quantity surveyors can keep themselves appraised of industry developments through various trade publications. Work experience is also highly valued - prospective and current students may be able to seek out roles on construction sites or with quantity surveying firms, who offer structured placements designed to help applicants find their path into the industry.
See the roles we have available in quantity surveying here