The nature of the construction industry ensures that new projects are starting all the time, and as a result quantity surveyors are in constant demand. A quantity surveyor is the person who manages the costs of construction and civil engineering projects. From gathering together initial estimates through to calculating final figures and buying materials, it is their job to ensure any build is as cost effective as possible whilst enhancing value and adhering to building regulations. If you enjoy working with numbers, have great financial management skills and are keen to work in the ever-changing construction industry, then it could be the perfect role for you.
Who is the ideal candidate?
A potential quantity surveyor will most likely be someone who has a degree in quantity surveying or has a degree in another subject and undertakes a postgraduate conversion course. You could have a degree in any subject but degrees in civil engineering, maths, economics or finance could prove particularly useful.
If you need to take the conversion course, it normally lasts a year full-time or two years part-time and is accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. You can also enter the profession without a degree, starting in the industry as a technical surveyor but you will usually then have to complete a degree and possibly a conversion course, depending on your degree subject.
What does a quantity surveyor job involve?
As a quantity surveyor it is your job to keep tabs on the cost of a build, reducing costs wherever possible whilst at the same time increasing value for money. Your work in this role might involve preparing the costs for tenders, undertaking feasibility studies, looking at the financial risk of a development and ensuring building regulations are met. As your experience increases, you may find you can offer broader advice to clients in areas such as maintenance costs of buildings or property taxation.
What are the hours and a typical day like for a quantity surveyor?
What you do as a quantity surveyor will vary greatly depending on whether you are at the design or construction phase of a project. You will be office-based but often your office will be situated on a construction site. Sometimes you can find yourself out on site for an entire day, taking measurements and checking materials.
Your day-to-day work will see you liaising with architects, preparing contracts, analysing the costs of maintenance and repair, sorting out upcoming work for contractors or paying them for work already done. If you’re based on a construction site your daily hours mirror the times it is open such as 7.30am to 6pm, for example. If you work in local government or in a separate office your hours might be more regular 9 to 5 but you will have to make regular site visits.
Employment prospects for quantity surveyors.
The quarterly RICS UK Construction Survey shows that quantity surveyors are in short supply in the UK so you can expect to find yourself in demand from the start. Depending on the company you work for, you will start as a graduate or assistant quantity surveyor until you pass exams to become fully chartered.
Once qualified, you can expect to start on around £20,000 per annum, with this increasing to between £28,000 and £35,000 based on experience and location. Experienced professionals can expect to earn considerably more - somewhere around £50,000-£65,000 a year.
As a fully qualified chartered surveyor, there are many options open to you. You can continue working across a broad range of areas or you can specialise in a particular discipline such as facilities management services. Self-employment or freelance work may also be an option and there could be opportunities for foreign travel or overseas positions.