Young woman in hard hat and hi-vis with construction measuring equipment

If you want to become a quantity surveyor, you might be interested to know what subjects it is best to study at university, how to find a suitable role and how to advance in the profession. Find out more in our guide to working as a graduate quantity surveyor.


What is a quantity surveyor?

quantity surveyor is responsible for estimating costs, quantities, materials and labour timescales for building projects. They prepare Bills of Quantities and tender documents that provide forecasts for projected work, ensure projects meet legal and quality standards and advise on the maintenance costs of specific buildings. Fundamentally, quantity surveyors try to ensure that clients get value for money and the price they pay for quantities and materials is reasonable and accurate.  

What qualifications do I need for a graduate QS role?

An undergraduate degree in quantity surveying is the best qualification you can have for a graduate QS job. These courses are widely available at universities and can be over 3 or 4 years depending on the institution. Even if you have not studied Quantity Surveying, a degree in a relevant subject may be enough to get a graduate QS role. These include subjects like Structural Engineering, Maths, Geography or Urban and Land Studies. If you have a degree in an unrelated subject, you will need to take a postgraduate quantity surveying conversion course, which full-time usually takes a year.

What can I expect to do in my graduate quantity surveyor role?

Day-to-day responsibilities

A graduate quantity surveying programme is a thorough and wide-ranging introduction to the profession, and will normally involve:

  • Assisting in understanding client requirements
  • Learning the basics of cost forecasting, profit and loss and estimating
  • Helping to prepare monthly management reports
  • Understanding and applying health and safety regulations
  • Allocating work to subcontractors
  • Arranging payments for completed work
  • Preparing tender and contract documents
  • Writing reports

What skills & knowledge will I gain?

Most aspiring quantity surveyors will already have strong maths knowledge and skills in analytical thinking. Through the course of their work as a trainee or graduate quantity surveyor, they will develop further skills in areas such as:

  • Cost planning
  • Budgeting
  • Project management
  • Tendering
  • Cost analysis
  • Writing Bills of Quantities

Career progression for graduate quantity surveyors

Careers in quantity surveying offer a huge scope for progression. The profession is governed and accredited by RICS – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Graduates can progress from Associate quantity surveyors to become Chartered after they have acquired at least 5 years of experience and passed the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence.

Quantity surveyors work in independent practices, for construction companies or clients, and often start up their own consultancies. There is a shortage of quantity surveyors in construction, so they are in high demand and can command very competitive salaries. Experienced chartered quantity surveyors can earn up to £65,000 or more.


How can I find a graduate QS role in my area?

RICS run their own job board where quantity surveyor vacancies are advertised alongside other roles in the land, construction and property sectors. You can also search for ‘Graduate quantity surveyor jobs’ online, use the job search function on, or search on Talentview. You can filter your job searches on Talentview by job role, and location and also look for management traineeships, work experience, placements and internships. 

Take our ultimate quiz to see if you’re suited to a quantity surveyor role

If you like working with numbers but also getting out and about on a construction site, and enjoy seeing a building project through to the end, working as a quantity surveyor could be for you. To find out if your personality is cut out for being a QS, or what other type of job in construction might suit you, take our career explorer.