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QS career

How to get a job in quantity surveying & move up the career ladder

Quantity surveyors play a fundamental role in the engineering lifecycle by ensuring that each project is completed to budget and by its deadline. As the UK government continues to commit to high-level infrastructure projects the demand for these skilled professionals is increasing. But how do you get into this profession and what opportunities are on offer?

The common career path in quantity surveying consists of three key stages; graduate/junior, quantity surveyor/senior quantity surveyor and managing quantity surveyor/commercial manager. Read on to find details on each step of the career ladder, the experience you need to move up it and what job opportunities are available to those who are ready to take the next step in their career. 

Graduate/junior quantity surveyor

As a graduate or junior quantity surveyor you’ll have the opportunity to work on a range of tasks on each project that you work on. The specifics of the role will depend on the sector you work within and the nature of the project, but will likely include managing contracts and procurement, cost forecasting and monitoring profit and loss.  

What experience do you need?

Although there are degrees which are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), you don’t have to have studied quantity surveying to enter this profession. If you’ve studied another subject, you can complete a postgraduate conversion course, which is also accredited by RICS. 

Whilst it’s not a prerequisite to complete the conversion course, it certainly helps if your first degree is in a relevant field such as mathematics, civil or structural engineering, building or construction, economics, geography or urban and land studies. It’s worth noting that some employers may be willing to take on graduates who haven’t reached accredited status and support them to obtain this whilst working.

As well as the relevant qualifications, strong communication skills and any practical experience in relevant industries, such as the built environment, rail, or power, will make you more attractive to employers. 

What salary could you command? 

£20,000 - £30,000

Quantity surveyor/senior quantity surveyor

Your next step in your career will be to lose the ‘junior’ or ‘graduate’ part of your title and potentially gain ‘senior’ status as you become a fully-fledged, experienced quantity surveyor. Quantity surveyors are able to work independently and manage significant commercial projects with minimal supervision. As you reach this stage of the career path, you can become a specialist in a specific sector, such as highways, construction, rail or water, allowing you to provide even more value and experience to the organisation you’re working for.

As you progress to the senior level, you may well find that your role involves coaching or mentoring junior members of the team. 

What experience do you need?

To reach these senior roles, you will often be expected to have five or more years’ experience as a quantity surveyor. 

Becoming a chartered quantity surveyor is a great way to demonstrate your professional ability and help you step up to the next level in your career. Once you become chartered you can often see your salary jump by up to £6,000. 

What salary could you command? 

£30,000 - £55,000

Managing quantity surveyor/commercial manager

Following your time as a senior quantity surveyor, you could progress into a commercial manager or managing quantity surveyor position. These roles involve you taking on a wider responsibility for the entire commercial range of projects. You will be responsible for liaising with the client and suppliers, ensuring there is a positive relationship and the project is delivered on time and to budget.  

What experience do you need?

To reach the top tier in quantity surveying, in most cases you will need to have more than ten years’ experience in a commercial role. The expectation is that you’ll have in-depth knowledge of the sector you are entering and will be familiar with the systems and processes within it. 

As well as this, you’ll need to have proven leadership abilities, be a strong communicator with senior stakeholders and have a solid grasp on the risks associated with delivering projects. 

What salary could you command? 

£50,000 - £70,000 

Quantity surveyor jobs

With high workloads and increasing levels of investment being pumped into the UK’s infrastructure, there are plenty of job opportunities for quantity surveyors. According to a survey conducted by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), workloads in construction and infrastructure are on the rise, with 22% respondents seeing a rise in workloads. And with the UK government’s commitment to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the end of this Parliament and numerous large-scale infrastructure projects such as HS2 and Thames Tideway underway, it isn’t hard to see why the demand for skilled surveyors is rising. 

As well as seeing a rise in workloads, RICS reported that 64% of respondents cited a lack of quantity surveyors as one of the biggest impacts on delivering such projects. With a skills short market and a ramp up in activity, there has never been a better time to be taking the next step up the quantity surveyor career ladder and unlocking some of the best salaries the profession has to offer. 

View the latest quantity surveyor jobs here and take the next step in your career.


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