So you want to be a… quantity surveyor

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by Rebekah Valero-Lee on

A career as a quantity surveyor can be an attractive option for someone interested in working in the construction industry. Quantity surveyors play a vital role in building projects, managing costs and making sure projects meet legal and quality standards.

If you’re interested in a career as a quantity surveyor, the below should help provide some insight into what this would involve, as well as what is required to enter this field.

What qualifications would I need?

If you want to work as a quantity surveyor, you need to have either a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS). While there are degrees available in quantity surveying, you don’t actually have to have studied this subject to enter the field.

It is possible to take a postgraduate conversion course which is accredited by RICS if your undergraduate degree is in a different subject. While your undergraduate degree can be in any subject, the following subjects may provide a useful starting point:

  • Civil / structural engineering
  • Building / construction
  • Geography
  • Mathematics
  • Surveying
  • Urban / land studies

If you don’t have a degree, you can start your career as a technical surveyor, but would need to complete a related degree before moving to a quantity surveyor role.

If you’re already working in either an engineering or construction role, it’s possible to undertake a part-time, distance learning postgraduate degree while still working.

What skills would I need?

There are a number of other skills and attributes employers would be looking for in potential candidates, including:

  • Maths and IT skills
  • Communication, negotiating and teamwork skills
  • Organisational and time-management skills
  • Financial management skills
  • The ability to create and stick to a budget
  • Logical thinking and a methodical approach to work
  • The ability to lead and motivate others
  • An understanding of building and construction technology, processes, materials, regulations and legal guidelines

How much could I earn?

As a quantity surveyor, your starting salary would usually be between £20,000 and £25,000, and can rise to £30,000 to £45,000 as you become more experienced. If you progress to a senior position and earn chartered status, you could see your salary increase to as much as £65,000 or more. Principal partners in private practice can earn even more.

On top of this salary, you can also receive shift and site allowances, as well as other benefits such as a company car, pension and healthcare. These additional benefits will vary depending on the company you are applying for and the level you are at.

These figures are intended as a guideline only.

What would my working hours and conditions be like?

Your working hours could vary, depending on where you are working. If you’re an on-site contractor, you might work from 7.30am to 6pm, while those in private practice or a local government department might have hours that fall within the standard ‘9 to 5’ bracket. You may also be expected to occasionally work evenings or weekends, if the project requires it.

Your role would be office-based, but would include a significant number of on-site visits. Because you could be working on sites around the country, you could also expect a quantity surveyor role to involve a lot of travel, and sometimes overnight stays depending on where you are visiting.

Find out more about careers in building construction and infrastructure, or check out our latest job listings.

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