A quantity surveyor is a critical cog in the construction industry. The surveyor is responsible for calculating, estimating, managing and refining all monetary costs and expenditures associated with a construction project, while ensuring that project quality, compliance and regulatory standards are maintained at the highest levels.
Quantity surveyors are usually employed by contractors and companies, or in the case of large commercial enterprises, the company of business commissioning the project.
Work is done out of the office in the initial phase. Once the construction is underway there are frequent site visits and meetings with contractors and supply vendors, checking that materials and equipment meet contract specifications and the ordered quantities meet with project estimations and budgets.
Salary & benefits
Salaried quantity surveyors in private, public and governmental establishments can expect an average starting salary of £20,000 to £22,000, provided they have obtained an industry-accredited undergraduate or graduate degree.
With experience, annual salaries increase to £30,000 and upwards.
Salaries are often supplemented with attractive allowances and performance based bonuses on a yearly basis, or as incentives for bringing in projects under budget or on time (basically, a bonus just for doing your job!).
Benefits packages include pensions, healthcare and lifestyle benefits, share save schemes and a company vehicle or travel costs, dependent upon sector, company and location.
Many commercial building/construction entities also provide study and financial support to employees undertaking professional qualifications and/or advanced professional degrees.
Typical working hours are standard office hours, with variations when making site visits and inspections, or extra hours when projects are nearing completion or you’re scrambling for deadlines. Some surveyors may also be based in on-site offices for the full project duration.
The standard minimum requirements for working as a quantity surveyor are a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Charted Institute of Building (CIOB) accredited first degree, or a degree in any discipline followed by an accredited conversion course.
Employees joining large or listed property development companies as graduate trainees usually complete an initial two to three years’ training programme, which may include the completion of the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC).
Individuals with HNC (higher national certificate) or HND (higher national diploma) qualifications can opt to study for a higher degree or enrol as Technical Surveyors and complete Assessment of Technical Competence (ATC) requirements to begin full-time work.
Continued Professional Education (CPE) requirements are mandatory for all surveyors with professional credentials and association memberships.
Training & progression
Training is usually acquired by work-shadowing experienced surveyors or assignment project teams with a dedicated supervisor, assuming more responsibilities as the trainee gains experience and expertise.
Formal graduate-entry programmes, meeting APC requirements, are conducted over a period of two years and include preparations and coaching support.
Career progression into project or company management roles is primarily performance-driven, though experienced quantity surveyors can set up their own consulting business: a nice way of building a fortune when the construction industry is booming and it’s raining contracts.