A quantity surveyor calculates the estimated costs of a building or engineering project from the initial calculation to the final completion. Contractors base their tenders on this. Once the project is under way, the quantity surveyor continually monitors its progress and actual costs.
You could be:
discussing with the architect or civil engineer and client whether it is likely that the project can be completed within the available budget
carrying out feasibility studies to determine quantities of materials required, timescales and labour
checking the completed plans to make sure they comply with construction laws and health and safety regulations
listing estimated costs of material, labour and equipment needed for the project, from initial site preparation right through to future maintenance
going through tenders received from contractors and advising on which to accept
drawing up the contract; preparing work schedules; arranging the stages for payment and the final payment
during construction, visiting sites regularly to check work is being completed to the agreed schedule
checking invoices from the contractors and suppliers, looking for any deviations from the agreed plan and overseeing payment of monthly invoices
acting as overall project manager during construction.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
You would usually start as an assistant quantity surveyor earning between £20,000 to £25,000 depending on experience. A chartered quantity surveyor with relevant experience could earn around £30,000 to £40,000 a year. Higher earners can earn up to £55,000 year, possibly more.
Your time would be split between working in an office and on site.
You might have to travel within the UK and possibly overseas, to visit sites.
You have to wear a hard hat and other safety gear, while on site.
You would sometimes be outdoors in all weather and might have to climb ladders or scaffolding.
Working hours would normally be regular, but you may have to work some evenings and weekends to meet a deadline.
You gain chartered or associate status by following one of the routes approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Studying a degree in quantity surveying, or a related subject such as civil engineering, construction or economics, accredited by RICS, followed by a period of supervised practical training (Assessment of Professional Competence).
If your degree is not RICS-accredited you can do an accredited postgraduate qualification.
You could enter a job with some subjects at National 5 and Highers. This is accompanied by 4 years of supervised structured on the job training towards the AssocRICS qualification, as an associate member of RICS.
Alternatively, if you have a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) you could get enter at technician level and work towards RICS associate membership with two years of supervised training.
Entry requirements for an HND are 2 Highers, and for a degree, 4 Highers. English and Maths are preferred.
There are other factors to consider.
You usually need a driving licence.
You must be generally fit and agile as you have to climb ladders and scaffolding and crawl underground.
Staff on construction sites must hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent, to prove their competence to do the job. You will need to pass a health and safety test to qualify for this scheme.
Many quantity surveyors work in private practices, large construction or engineering companies, and in the public sector - for local authorities or agencies such as the Ministry of Defence. There are also jobs in housing associations, health trusts and in the oil industry. Some jobs are largely office based; in others more time is spent on site.
a good knowledge of construction methods and building regulations
good attention to detail
a practical and methodical approach
the ability to work within budgets
excellent organisational skills
good problem solving skills.
You need to be able to:
understand technical plans
write clear and concise reports and explain complex information
work as part of a team with other professionals and staff on construction sites.
Once you have completed an accredited degree you would find employment as a trainee surveyor.
To qualify as a chartered surveyor you would complete your Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) which is 24 months of structured training, consisting of on the job learning and assessment. This leads to RICS membership and the status of chartered surveyor.
Chartered Surveyors have to complete 20 hours continued professional development (CPD) every year.
With experience you can move into a senior post.
You might become a project manager.
You could perhaps become a self-employed consultant.
Gaining membership of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (CICES) may improve your prospects.