How to become a quantity surveyor

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Are you a natural leader with great organisational skills and a head for numbers? You might want to consider a career as a quantity surveyor.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

  • What is a quantity surveyor?
  • What does a quantity surveyor do?
  • How much does a quantity surveyor earn?
  • What skills does the role require?
  • Tell me how to become a quantity surveyor.

What is a quantity surveyor?

Quantity surveyors are responsible for overseeing different construction projects. They assess the risks involved and they manage the project’s budget, plan and managing all the different costs. Their main goal is to complete the project to a high quality at the best possible price.

Quantity surveyors oversee lots of different projects – it could be anything from construction work on a highway to a huge development of new flats. They either work for private companies (for example a property business, engineering company, architecture firm or building contractor) or in the public sector, which means being employed by a housing association, government department or local authorities (like councils).

Watch this to learn more about quantity surveyors:

What does a quantity surveyor do?

The role of quantity surveyor is strategic, meaning they’re involved in the project from start to finish and they have to consider all the different components of a construction project. They make sure every stage of the work is completed on time, within the budget and to a high standard. They spend time in an office as well as on building sites.

The everyday tasks and responsibilities of a quantity surveyor could include:

  • Talking to “clients” (your customers) and seeing what they need and making an assessment on whether their plans are doable.
  • Figuring out how much building materials and working hours the project will require, and figuring out how much all of that will cost.
  • Negotiating employment contracts and schedules for the workers.
  • Giving advice about legal issues and any risks that need to be considered.
  • Overseeing the work and stages of construction.
  • Writing regular reports on how the construction project is going, keeping track of all costs.
  • Making sure everyone involved in the project is paid.
  • Carefully following health and safety rules.
  • Keeping yourself up to date with developments in the construction sector generally.

Check out this interview with Malcolm, who worked as a quantity surveyor on the London Olympic Park:

How much does a quantity surveyor earn?

A quantity surveyor at the starting level can expect to earn between £18,000 and £25,000. An experienced surveyor can earn up to £50,000 while a highly experienced professional can earn up to £80,000.

What skills does the role require?

Becoming a quantity surveyor means you’ll need to have the following abilities and qualities.

  • Budgeting skills – are you good at keeping a careful eye on cash going in and out, and are you good at estimating how much things cost?
  • Good IT skills.
  • Good head for numbers.
  • Excellent organisational and time management abilities.
  • Negotiation skills – quantity surveyors have to negotiate with lots of different professionals, from construction workers to clients. You need to be able to make your point persuasively and influence people – both verbally and in writing.
  • Leadership abilities.
  • Team work – lots of different roles are involved in a construction project; you need to collaborate well with others.
  • Analytical thinking skills – you’ll need to be able to read and interpret complex architectural drawings, health and safety rules, and tax and contract laws.
  • Commercial awareness.
  • Problem solving skills – you’ll take a methodical and logical approach.

Tell me how to become a quantity surveyor.

You will usually need a degree or other professional qualification that is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). You could also become a quantity surveyor with a degree such as construction, civil engineering, mathematics, geography or economics. Many companies offer graduate trainee schemes. As a trainee you can register for the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), the final step to becoming a Chartered Surveyor.

An alternative route is to start work as a junior or trainee quantity surveyor.

Work experience is a useful way to impress employers when it comes to applying for jobs and courses.

You can also become a quantity surveyor by doing an apprenticeship. These programmes allow you to learn on the job. You’ll pick up important transferable skills as well as technical abilities, while going to college to study for a professional qualification. Learn more here.

Ready to apply for a quantity surveyor apprenticeship? Search and apply on the Success at School website.

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Main image via Freepik 

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