A construction worker in a hard hat and hi-vis working with a piece of surveying equipment

What qualifications do you need to become a quantity surveyor, a key job role in construction? Find out the routes into a career in quantity surveying, from degrees to degree apprenticeships, how long it takes to qualify and the skills you need.


Are quantity surveyors in high demand?

Quantity surveyors estimate the costs of building projects, and so play a fundamental role in construction and civil engineering. Quantity surveyors are highly sought after, with 66% of construction firms reporting shortages of qualified quantity surveyors. Some reports say they are harder to recruit than ballet dancers!

This makes quantity surveying appealing for anyone looking for a rewarding career both professionally and financially. Experienced chartered quantity surveyors can earn up to £65,000 or more.


What qualifications are needed to be a quantity surveyor?

To become a quantity surveyor, you will usually need a degree in quantity surveying or commercial management accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), although this isn’t always the case.

GCSEs and A-levels

If your aim is to be a quantity surveyor from an early age, you will need five GCSE’s at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English and Maths. 2-3 A-Levels are then required. No specific subjects are asked for, but it would be useful if one of your A-Levels was in the following:

  • Business studies
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Design & technology


Quantity surveyor degrees

Undergraduate programmes in quantity surveying or commercial management are the most common route to becoming a quantity surveyor. Often, you can study a degree which combines the two, which covers essential elements of surveying such as construction management, building studies, building engineering, engineering management, building technology and more.

Many courses also incorporate a year-long industry placement, giving you essential work experience alongside your studies.

Other relevant degrees

However, a degree in quantity surveying or commercial management isn’t essential as a quantity surveyor qualification. If you have an undergraduate degree in a different subject, you can take a RICS-accredited postgraduate conversion course. Relevant undergraduate subjects which could be converted include:

  • Building or construction
  • Civil engineering
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Mathematics
  • Project management
  • Structural engineering
  • Urban and land studies

RICS-accredited postgraduate conversion course

The postgraduate course usually takes one year to complete, or two years if you are taking it part time. Postgraduate conversion is a common route into the field, with many deciding to change career later on in life, and achieving a Masters in surveying is a highly valued qualification.

You can also take this route after taking a completely unrelated subject and undergraduate level, as having a completely different view on land and property is sought after by employers. Some quantity surveyor employers may take on graduates with a non-RICS accredited degree – they are called non-cognates – and support and fund them through the postgraduate course.

Can you be a quantity surveyor without a degree?

Yes, it is possible to qualify as a quantity surveyor without having a traditional degree, but a degree apprenticeship will still require a similar level of academic knowledge and achievement.

Degree apprenticeship

A RICS-approved Chartered Surveyor Degree Apprenticeship programme leads to the same level of qualification and accreditation as studying a degree, but allows you to earn while you learn. With a degree apprenticeship, the job comes first, and anyone who is accepted onto a degree apprenticeship programme will usually already be employed as a trainee quantity surveyor with a surveying practice or construction company. A degree apprenticeship can take up to 6 years to complete.

Some of the benefits of a degree apprenticeship include:

  • No student debt – your tuition fees are paid by your employer and the government
  • You are paid a salary – usually at least £20,000 a year, rising once qualified
  • Much of your time will be spent in the workplace, giving you practical experience

Work experience

The value of gaining work experience alongside a qualified quantity surveyor should not be underestimated. You might be working towards your professional qualification or degree apprenticeship while picking up essential on-the-job experience.

Assessment of professional competence RICS

The final part of becoming a fully qualified, chartered quantity surveyor is to obtain RICS membership. To do this, you must complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence programme. On completion, you will be able to display MRICS after your name, informing clients and colleagues alike that you are a chartered quantity surveyor.

If you take a quantity surveying degree apprenticeship, sitting the APC is part of the programme and you should receive MRICS status when you complete your course.

However, for those with less than 5 years of practical experience, such as those entering the profession via university, becoming chartered involves completing the APC by gaining a minimum of 24 months of postgraduate experience with an employer.


Skills and competencies

Quantity surveying is a highly skilled profession, and you will need to be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Understanding of engineering science and technology
  • Ability to use your initiative
  • Strong maths knowledge
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Thorough and good attention to detail
  • Knowledge of building and construction
  • Project management skills
  • Resilience, determination and the ability to work well under pressure
  • Good commercial awareness
  • A practical, logical and methodical approach to work


Continued professional development (CPD)

CPD is an important aspect of maintaining high standards once quantity surveyors have become qualified and chartered. Members of RICS must complete at least 20 hours of CPD annually, which could include attending conferences and events, professional courses, running workshops, private study of academic papers or in-house training.