Quantity surveying is a profession which blends engineering, economics and construction. Quantity surveyors manage all costs associated with building projects – minimising expenses, sticking to a budget and ensuring the final product is good quality and delivered on time.

A RICS accredited degree in quantity surveying is one of the best ways to become an established quantity surveyor. Quantity surveyors work on all kinds of construction project – big and small – so they can be found in a wide variety of workplaces.

Let’s explore some of these, and where you can use your quantity surveying degree.

Quantity surveyor skills

Quantity surveying is a skilled, well-paid profession – if you have a keen eye for detail and enjoy getting into the nitty gritty of finances, you could make an ideal quantity surveyor.

Other useful skills include:

  • Written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to write clear reports in order to convey complex information in a simple way
  • The ability to build and develop relationships
  • Numerical and data analysis skills
  • A creative and innovative approach to problem solving
  • IT skills and the ability to learn sophisticated design and costing IT packages
  • Project management skills
  • Resilience, determination and the ability to work well under pressure
  • Commercial awareness
  • Knowledge of building and construction technology, processes, materials, business and legal matters.

Find out more about what a job as a quantity surveyor involves.

Where can a quantity surveyor work?

Quantity surveyors can be self-employed or work for a quantity surveying firm – but most work for other kinds of construction business, putting their expertise to good use.

These include:

Architectural businesses

Architects are all about designing and planning new buildings and refurbishments to existing ones. Quantity surveyors use their creativity and technical understanding to provide architectural firms with the best value for money.

They use architectural sketches and designs to provide accurate cost estimates, advising on what can and cannot be done to meet the budget. They work closely with architects and architectural technicians to create a schedule of works – this is used in the tendering process to find the best building contractors for the job.

Ultimately, quantity surveyors save firms money. But that is only one consideration: it must be balanced against achieving the best quality possible alongside a manageable timeline which is adhered to.

Construction sites

Quantity surveyors in the construction industry often split their time between the company office and construction sites. Quantity surveyors are involved right from the start of construction projects, providing cost estimates for materials and labour required through to their acquisition.

They can continue to be found on site, working closely with others such as site managers and civil engineers to prepare contracts, provide ongoing cost analyses of maintenance and repair work, conduct feasibility studies of further work, monitor cashflow, allocate work to contractors and much more.

At the end of a project, quantity surveyors will be on site to check the finished work and provide an accurate valuation of its worth.

Property development firms

Quantity surveyors are an integral part of any property development business. They are used primarily during the feasibility stage to advise the developer or their lender on the likely construction cost of the project and the most economical way of achieving the project’s requirements.

On larger projects they will continue to advise throughout, comparing costs to the budget, assessing tenders from contractors based on their affordability, assisting on any financial disputes that may arise, suggesting alternative building ideas or approaches to save money and much more.

Engineering companies

In engineering firms, quantity surveyors tend to work closely with the civil engineers – often specialising in a particular form of engineering, such as structural, geotechnical, environmental, transportation, etc.

To be successful and cost-effective, engineering projects require a thorough feasibility analysis. Quantity surveyors evaluate the costs involved in the planning and design of the project, making sure to take into account risk management, value determination and tendering analysis while delivering procurement advice.

Is quantity surveying a good career?

Simply put, quantity surveying is an excellent career.

Quantity surveyors earn high salaries, have many opportunities for career progression and are able to move between different sectors. Quantity surveyors are always in high demand – the vast majority of graduates find a job as soon as they’ve finished university.

If you love travelling and have robust financial and numeracy skills, quantity surveying could be perfect for you. Quantity surveyors rarely stick to a 9-5 schedule, flitting between offices and construction sites, so two days are seldom the same. There’s also great opportunities to work overseas, as RICS accredited degrees are accepted across the world.

A quantity surveying degree is dynamic too – with experience, quantity surveyors can specialise in different fields, gaining expertise and improving your earning potential. This includes legal services and dispute resolution, contracts and risk management, supply chain management, capital allowances and tax management, facilities management and many others.

Start your journey as a quantity surveyor today.

More information

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If quantity surveying isn't quite your thing, check out the land surveyor, surveyor, building surveyor, hydrographic surveyor and construction estimator job roles.  

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