The Career Path of a Quantity Surveyor

A quantity surveyor serves a crucial role in the construction industry. They are the financial consultants whose skillset qualifies them to advise on costs and contractual agreements and prepare contract documents. Quantity surveyors are independent experts that operate in a specialised area of the construction industry and therefore have a career path that differs from most other jobs in the construction industry.

What qualifications and skills does a Quantity Surveyor Need?

To qualify as a quantity surveyor, you need to have an accredited degree, diploma, or professional qualification. Relevant subjects include:

  • building or construction
  • civil or structural engineering
  • economics
  • geography
  • mathematics
  • project management (construction)
  • urban and land studies.

You will most likely start your quantity surveyor career with an undergraduate degree in any of the above-mentioned subjects. If you do not have an undergraduate degree in any of the above-listed subjects, then you will need to take a post-graduate course. The skills of a quantity surveyor are in high demand which means there are a lot of opportunities out there and employers are more willing to hire and support graduates who aren’t accredited yet and sponsor you while you work.

What to expect from the job?

Working as a quantity surveyor can be quite flexible. You can get work from contractors, or consultants and once you’ve built up a name and some experience you can even work as a freelancer. There are also opportunities to work on-site or in an office, leaving room for you to decide how you would like to work.

The career progression of a quantity surveyor

Junior / Assistant Quantity Surveyor

Typically, the starting position in the quantity surveyor career is a trainee or junior assistant quantity surveyor. In this role, you’ll be learning the basics and be taught how to manage contracts and procurements while considering cost forecasts as you familiarise yourself with profit and loss monitoring. You’ll also need to produce internal and external commercial reports. However, most of your work will involve supporting your senior quantity surveyors. Show initiative, skill, and dedication to be noticed at this level, it also helps to have a rapport with your fellow quantity surveyors and the people you work with on a daily basis.

Intermediate – Senior Quantity Surveyor

The next step in your career will be intermediate and then senior quantity surveyor. To get to this level you’ll need to prove that you are able to work independently and manage large-scale commercial projects with no supervision. Proving you are capable of doing this type of work competently and on your own is the best way to break out of the “junior” role. At this stage, you’ll be able to specialise in a specific type of infrastructure and construction projects, such as waste management, bridges, highways, etc. The other specialism you can focus on is a specific discipline, such as civil engineering, legal services, or capital allowances. You start to see rapid growth in your career as you gain more experience in the industry, become more skilled in your chosen specialism, become more independently led, and as your skills become more valuable. It strongly recommends that you focus on your mentoring abilities and prove that you are responsible enough to train and oversee supporting junior quantity surveyors. Be sure to take CPD courses and hones your skills as much as you can, talk to your employer about this as they may be willing to pay for courses you can take. This is the point in your career where you can consider freelancing.

Managerial and Leadership Positions

From senior quantity surveyor is to enter a managerial position. This involves a lot more responsibilities. You will need 10 or more years of industry experience. Managerial roles in the quantity surveyor career are commercial managers or quantity surveyor manager positions. You will be required to liaison with clients and suppliers and manage strong relationships with them. To prove you are ready for this role you will need to work on and master three essential skills, leadership skills, communication skills and analytical abilities as well as being very good at your job. This is a position that requires an authoritative person who is deadline conscious, has a strong rapport with clients and staff and is able to consistently deliver high-quality work.

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