what does a quantity surveyor do?
Quantity surveyors work within the land management, property and construction industries. They are the people responsible for calculating and managing the costs relating to projects, from helping create initial estimates to finalising the complete budget requirements.
Quantity Surveyors are always involved at the start of a project, being brought in to look at the feasibility of planned construction or repair efforts, they then remain as overseers during the capital expenditure phases of development. This means they are involved, often on the site, through to the completion of construction, keeping a constant eye on the forecasted and actual costs, as well as being required to react quickly to problems and changes in specifications with updated costings and feasibility reviews.
day-to-day role of a quantity surveyor.
A day in the life of a quantity surveyor is varied – on one day you may find yourself in the office, and the next you may be out on a construction site meeting with clients or consulting with construction personnel. No two projects are ever the same and there is a great deal of variety, which can be quite interesting for someone who doesn’t like routine.
You’ll be preparing tender and contract documents, carrying out cost analysis, monitoring cost variations and writing reports, finding out the client requirements and undertaking feasibility studies, allocating work to sub-contractors and making payments. Site visits are also a big part of the job, where you’ll need to make assessments on financial projections for future work.
Many quantity surveyors are university educated, and there are specific degrees in the subject which are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). You can also choose to do a degree in a different subject and then undertake a RICS accredited postgraduate conversion course. Even though your degree can be in any subject, it’s those that are linked to the construction industry that are preferable e.g. civil engineering, mathematics and geography.
But you don’t need to have a degree to get into the industry - you can start as a technical surveyor without one. However, to progress to the role of quantity surveyor a degree is needed, and it may be possible to study part-time while you work, or may even be supported/funded by your employer. Regardless of which route you take, you’ll need to undertake further study and exams if you want to gain chartered status.
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am I suitable for a quantity surveyor role?
If you have an analytical mind with strong numerical and financial skills, then the role of quantity surveyor could be ideal for you. But you’ll also need to have good managerial and leadership skills because the role involves dealing with suppliers and sub-contractors regularly if you want them to complete their tasks. This can sometimes be a difficult position to undertake when there are multiple parties involved, so great communication and negotiation skills are a must too.
In addition, the ability to produce well-written reports and relate complex information to clients is important, as is a strong IT background, particularly when it comes to software such as Excel. A passion for the construction industry and detailed knowledge of the trade are also bonuses to have. A wider understanding of the industry, the issues it faces and how to overcome problems will make potential employers sit up and take notice.
There are a number of career routes open to become a Quantity Surveyor, though the most common is to take a degree or professional qualification that is accredited by RICS, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, membership of which allows surveyors to describe themselves as Chartered (usually after two years work experience post-degree). Membership can be gained by studying an accredited degree, through professional experience, or through membership of other relevant professional bodies. Those already working in construction or engineering can qualify by taking a part-time distance learning degree if they so wish, allowing them to continue working (and earning!) whilst qualifying.
Quantity surveyor salaries vary on location, experience and qualifications. The average a Quantity Surveyor earns is £38,000 per annum. However, this number differs depending on experience. New starters usually get anything between £18,000 and £25,000. Experienced quantity surveyors will get anything from £25,000 and £50,000, and highly experienced workers can receive anywhere up to £80,000.
what are the career prospects for a quantity surveyor?
You can start as a trainee quantity surveyor and work towards chartered status. Once you’re chartered you can continue working across a broad range of subjects, or you can specialise in different areas of interest such as project management, tax advice, property taxation or supply chain procurement.
There’s also the option of working towards further qualifications with different institutes, such as the Association of Cost Engineers, or the Chartered Institute of Building. Finally, you could even build your own consultancy or consider a move abroad.