Given the shortages of quantity surveyors in today's construction industry, studying to become a quantity surveyor can be a smart option. To qualify as a quantity surveyor and become part of a global profession with a huge variety of exciting, well-paid career opportunities, you need to complete a surveying degree or a surveying HND – a higher education course accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). They’re both great ways to get into a fast-paced, high-tech career.
Unlike other careers in construction, it does not take too long to become a quantity surveyor; one year or two years part-time if you already have a degree, plus another couple years to become chartered. That compares quite favourably to the seven years it can take to become an architect, for instance.
Below, we highlight seven of the best ways to become a quantity surveyor, from full-time degrees and master’s courses to apprenticeships and distance learning options.
undergraduate degree courses.
If you’re looking to study for an undergraduate degree, taking a RICS accredited degree is the first step to becoming a chartered surveyor. You can study for a quantity surveyor degree at almost 30 different institutions in the UK alone – there are over 50 undergraduate courses that are accredited by RICS. The courses are at credible universities too – such as Loughborough, Aston University, Heriot-Watt, Nottingham Trent and Reading. So, there's a surveying course suited for you – no matter where you want to study. These accredited degree courses are all relevant to the industry so when you study one of these degrees, your qualification will be recognised by employers as a seal of quality.
postgraduate degree options.
If you already have an undergraduate degree, you can take a master's degree in surveying or construction cost management, for example. There are over 60 courses available across the UK at top institutions including University College London, the University of Manchester and Queens University Belfast.
Hear how experienced quantity surveyor, Calum started with a degree in geography, before transitioning to a construction related masters:
You can also take a degree apprenticeship. In 2015, the Government rolled out the degree apprenticeship programme, which was developed as part of the higher apprenticeship standard. The programme is the equivalent of a master’s or bachelor's degree. Training for it includes working in a full-time job as well as studying at a partner university or training provider. Candidates must already have a level three qualification such as an advanced apprenticeship, A-levels or an International Baccalaureate (although some programmes may require further training). There are currently almost 20 of these available across 17 different universities from Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow Caledonian, and Heriot-Watt in Scotland all the way down south to the University of West England in Bristol and the University of Portsmouth – via London South Bank and the University of Westminster in the heart of the capital.
If you want to study for a surveying-related degree but the university lifestyle does not appeal to you, a distance learning option could be perfect. There are almost 30 courses available (albeit at only 10 different institutions) to study for postgraduate qualifications via distance learning, including Robert Gordon in Aberdeen, the University of Salford in Greater Manchester and Northumbria University in Newcastle. Heriot-Watt offers an MSc in Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying, for instance, as do Glasgow Caledonian and the University College of Estate Management. The University of Salford offers an MSc in Construction Management. The Leeds Beckett University, Oxford Brookes and the University of Central Lancashire in Preston also run distance learning courses. The undergraduate options are more limited, however. The University College of Estate Management in Reading and Heriot-Watt are the only two institutions to offer a BSc in Quantity Surveying.
flexible learning options.
There are some flexible learning routes into quantity surveying, although the postgraduate opportunities are limited and there’s less undergraduate options. University College London’s Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment offers an MSc in Construction Economics and Management via flexible learning – and the School of Construction Management and Engineering at the University of Reading offers a flexible MSc in Construction Management. While the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment at Glasgow Caledonian University offers a flexible BSc in Construction Management, that’s about the extent of the undergraduate flexible choices.
Last, but by no means least, there are ‘sandwich’ options. A sandwich degree is either a four-year undergraduate course (as part of a bachelor's degree) or a five-year postgraduate course (as part of a master's degree) and involves a placement year or internship in industry – normally after the second year at university. Some sandwich degrees involve multiple shorter placement or internship periods rather than an unbroken year. Back in the 80s, one in every five students were on sandwich courses – although this had dropped to one in 14 by 2010. Given the invaluable experience they offer, it’s perhaps not surprising that enrolments are growing again now.
There are approximately 35 different sandwich courses run by universities across the UK. The University of Greenwich offers a BSc in Quantity Surveying via its Department of Built Environment, for example – and the University of Brighton’s School of Environment and Technology offers a BSc in Project Management for Construction.
becoming an apprentice quantity surveyor without a degree.
It’s not compulsory to have a formal qualification under your belt. Even if you don’t have a degree, you can get a role as an apprentice quantity surveyor and work your way up. There are no specific requirements to begin training although most entrants have A-Levels.
Hear how Calum got into the industry: