What does a quantity surveyor do?
A quantity surveyor seeks to minimise the cost and risk of a construction project and enhance value for money, while still achieving the required legal standards and quality. They are responsible for preparing estimates and costs of the work and keeping track of any variations to the contract that might affect costs. They communicate with clients, the company’s accounting department and construction teams to help ensure projects do not exceed their established budgets. Quantity surveyors work between an office where they work on the computer and the job site where they monitor project progress, communicating with project managers and keeping projects on schedule.
“I love how every day is different and for me, seeing a project coming from the design stage right through to it being there in person and knowing you helped build that. And especially when you’re on such a monumental project or something that means something to someone else, that’s really where I enjoy the role” – Callum Holmes (1)
Skills needed to become a quantity surveyor
The role of a quantity surveyor can be complex and require managing competing workloads. Because of this, it can be helpful for quantity surveyors to have skills in:
- Organisation skills: Quantity surveyors need organisational skills to keep track of project statuses, budgets, contracts and material costs. This competing workload requires a quantity surveyor to be resilient, and have the ability to work well under pressure.
- Written and verbal communication skills: Quantity surveyors need good communication skills to enable them to communicate with clients, project teams, job leaders and suppliers effectively. They also need good written communication skills to enable them to write reports clearly and concisely to convey complex information in the simplest form to a diverse audience.
- Numerical and data analysis skills: Quantity surveyors need good numerical skills to design effective budgets and review the company’s expenditure to identify potential areas of improvement. Good numerical skills will also help them in their calculations to create accurate estimates, order correct material quantities and accommodate unexpected costs.
- IT skills: Quantity surveyors will be required to use sophisticated design and costing IT software packages to carry out their job role.
- Management skills: Quantity surveyors need management skills to help them direct and manage teams on the best work practices to keep the job on budget. They will sometimes be required to travel to job sites to manage how materials are being used and adjust operations to ensure the budget is maintained.
Steps to become a quantity surveyor
Complete a bachelor’s degree
To become a quantity surveyor, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in quantity surveying or commercial management. This will give you the skills and knowledge to advance in this career. To get into one of these courses, you must complete your A-levels. You should consider taking subjects in maths, finance, land studies or business management to complement your application. You can complete this degree at universities all over the UK, however, it is beneficial to do your research to find a university accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
After completing an undergraduate degree, it is time to get real world experience. Internships, apprenticeships and entry level positions are a great way to get into the industry and start building your career. Internships and apprenticeships are great opportunities if you want to get a taste of the career. They allow you to work beneath an expert in your field to gain practical experience and develop your skills under guided supervision. Entry level positions typically offer less guidance than apprenticeships or internships, but they are a great way to gain experience and start your journey to fulfilling your career.
Become a chartered surveyor
Once you have got five years of work experience, you can register with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to qualify you as a chartered surveyor. To qualify for this title, you will have to complete the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) scheme. Members need a bachelors degree to be eligible for this assessment. The APC scheme tests for a variety of technical practice, communication, business and management skills.
Salary of a quantity surveyor
The average salary of a quantity surveyor in the UK(1) is £46,991. The starting salary for trainees and graduate apprenticeships range from £21,000 to £28,000. Salaries can vary depending on your qualifications, skills, experience, location, type of employer and the sector you work in.
What are the working hours of a quantity surveyor?
Quantity surveyors typically work 37 to 40 hours a week, with occasional weekend work. Your work location can vary from working at a standard office desk to working for a contractor on site.