How to Become a Quantity Surveyor in the UK

Published: 01st December 2011
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What is a Quantity Surveyor?
Unless you have experience with construction, you may get a little confused when you hear the world quantity surveyor. The responsibilities of a quantity surveyor include managing and overseeing all costs related to building and facility development.

Basically, the job of a surveyor is to calculate all related costs so that companies will be well informed about how much each portion of their building will cost and the areas where they can minimise their costs.

Are You Interested in Becoming a Quantity Surveyor?
Quantity surveyors have a goal to enhance the value of a building in relation to the amount of money spent building it. The surveyor will look at the construction process and determine which standards and regulations must be met in order to meet minimum statutory building regulations. They will also be able to determine which areas are most important to maintaining the quality of the new building.

Who Does a Quantity Surveyor Work for and What are General Work Activities?
When you read the job description of a quantity surveyor, you may get the sense that only clients that are building a property will use their services. In actuality, a quantity surveyor can find business from either a contractor of the client, and they also have the option of choosing to work on-site or away in an office.

Once the contractor or client chooses the quantity surveyor, he or she is involved in the entire building process from start to finish. At the beginning, the surveyor will evaluate the property and prepare estimates on the total costs involved in the project. The surveyor will continue to prepare contractual documents, bills, and other tender documents as necessary. The surveyor will perform cost analysis, perform a risk and value management assessment of the property, as well as provide insight on cost control and procurement strategies.

Other services provided by a Quantity Surveyor may include the Following:
• Responding to commercial risks after a proper assessment and analysis has been performed
• Allocating related work to reliable subcontractors
• Advising clients and contractors or contractual claims
• Providing progress reports and detailed analysis of estimated outcomes
• Handling payments of finished work
• Understanding health and safety regulations as well as building contracts

How much does a Quantity Surveyor Typically Make per Year?
In the UK, most quantity surveyors just starting out will make between £17,000 and £25,000 each year. A senior level quantity surveyor will make between £30,000 and £50,000 per year. If you become a principal partner in a private practice, you can earn substantially more than these average figures.

The salary that you will make as a quantity surveyor will depend on the amount of experience and qualifications that you have as well as the specific contracts that you undertake with your company. With increased responsibilities, you will earn more money, and you may also get shift and site allowances in addition to an annual salary.

Hours of a Quantity Surveyor
You may also be able to undertake a position as a quantity surveyor on a freelance basis, which will give you more freedom and flexibility. Normal hours of operation for a quantity surveyor are from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm depending on what type of business that you work for, while other private practices may be open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

While you will typically work out of an office, you will also be required to visit the site of the building development. This will allow you to make a proper and thorough analysis of what needs to be completed and which documents need to be filed.

Entry Requirements for a Quantity Surveyor
A first degree will give you the best opportunities as a quantity surveyor. Accredited institutions like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the similarly well-known Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) offer many degree programs. If you have a degree, you will probably be able to secure a better position and earn more money, but you may not necessarily need a degree in quantity surveying in order to be successful in this career.

You can also consider getting a degree in geography, economics, urban studies, mathematics, construction (building), or engineering. You may also be able to enter this particular field without any degree at all. You will need to be prepared to work your way through the industry from top to bottom, but it is certainly possible to find a job as a quantity surveyor without a professional degree.
Some businesses may actually fund degree courses related to quantity surveying so that you can get the education necessary to make the most out of this career. You will need to ensure that if you do have a degree unrelated to quantity surveying that you complete further study and the RICS. The RICS is a qualification program designed to give students and career seekers another route to becoming a quantity surveyor. The RICS is also recognized as an excellent postgraduate conversion course.

Other Requirements Needed to Become a Quantity Surveyor
In addition to educational requirements, you will also need to be able to display proficiency in the following areas:
• Methodical and analytical thinking as will as practical and logical reasoning skills
• Problem solving skills with a unique and creative approach
• Skill related to mathematics and financial management
• Clear, concise writing skills to produce reports on complex information
• Thorough knowledge and understanding of building and construction codes, regulations, and other related matters
It is important to have enough hands on, work experience to ensure that you are able to find a job as a quantity surveyor. Formal education and other certifications are important, but being able to demonstrate that you have a relevant understanding of building and construction can go a long way if you are interested in becoming a quantity surveyor.

Recruitment Opportunities
If you are a recent graduate, there are many companies that recruit post-graduates at a certain time of the year. The recruitment process is usually involved for larger companies, but smaller quantity surveying companies may accept speculative applications throughout the year.

Progressing in this industry will require that you expend some effort with training and increasing the amount of qualifications that you have to offer. You can become a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) after you have obtained a degree and a training programme. The training programme that you will need to complete is called the “Assessment of Professional Competence” (APC). There are typically two types of surveyors – those who are chartered and those who are referred to as ‘technical.’

Two Types of Surveyors – Technical or Chartered
The technical aspects of quantity surveying can be complex and hard to understand, which is why firms will typically have at least one person that is well versed in these aspects of operating as a quantity surveyor. In addition, it is also important to have a chartered surveyor that is a qualified member of the RICS. Both of these types of quantity surveyors serve a unique purpose for the business, and each role is important to the ongoing progress of the business. Technical surveyors work more diligently on a ‘hands on’ capacity so to speak. They will need to have completed an “Assessment of Technical Competence” in order to be considered a technical surveyor, and they will also need to have an HND or an HNC.

Competency Assessments
Most quantity surveyors will need to take some form of a competence test in order to complete their job. Before a surveyor is able to take these tests, he or she must exhibit proof of completion of a practical, structured training programme as well as an RICS professional assessment.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Continuing professional development is almost the norm in today’s business world. The practice standards and competency levels of a business and its staff members are enhances with CPD. The RICS offers a lifelong learning programme that will allow you to record and mark any professional developments that you have made over the years. These programmes are designed to promote learning in an open atmosphere, as well as provide a space for private study. The RICS has also established a number of conferences and events that quantity surveyors can attend to learn more about the industry.

To continue professional development, an in-house training programme has also been established. In order to maintain competency and progress in this business, it is important to be learning more about the demands of the job.

How to Find a Job as a Quantity Surveyor
After you have completed all of the necessary training, you may be wondering how you will secure yourself the right position in the company. There are three major employers in the UK that provide quantity surveying as well as related services, and most of these are private practice employers. The PQS (Private practice quantity surveyors) will typically allow you to submit applications periodically, even if they are not currently recruiting.

Networking to Build Job Possibilities
If you have not made any contacts in this industry, you can call different companies in order to find out who is hiring, what the hiring process is, and when the recruitment period will be open again.

If you are interested in working for a smaller private company, then your options are much broader in terms of applying. These smaller companies may not have as many opening, but you can typically submit an application at any time of the year.

Other Job Options to Consider as a Quantity Surveyor
You can also find a job as a quantity surveyor through contacting certain engineering contractors, governmental bodies, and local authorities. Housing associations, architects, and large engineering consultancies may also be interested in hiring a quantity surveyor to help them plan for costs and assess value of their new building.

Essentially, you will need to try to find a job with a company that has an extensive portfolio of property that are in need of further analysis, speculation, and development.

Taking a Job as a Quantity Surveyor
Once you have decided that this is the right career path, you may be able to get started on the job in just a few months or years. If you have already completed the essential steps to becoming a quantity surveyor, you can seek out new opportunities by accepting jobs in a nearby area or browsing through job advertisements.

Quantity surveying can be a very rewarding job, but it is important to make sure that you get as many qualifications as possible so you can land a great job!

For a list of qualifications and additional information about the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), contact:
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
RICS, Parliament Square, London SW1P 3AD, UK
Telephone: +44 (0) 870 333 1600
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7 334 3811

For more information on continuing professional development, contact:
QSi for Quantity Surveyors

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