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Planning and Development Surveyor

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Planning and Development Surveyor

The Work

Planning and development surveyors assess, design and manage development projects in towns, cities and rural areas.

Your work as a planning and development surveyor may involve:

  • regeneration of run-down estates
  • redevelopment of former industrial or 'brownfield' sites
  • property conservation in rural and urban areas.

You would be involved at each stage of a project from the initial site assessments right through to its completion. Depending on the project, your duties could include:

  • researching market data like land and property records
  • analysing figures using computer software
  • assessing whether plans are workable
  • presenting your recommendations to clients
  • overseeing planning applications
  • raising finances from funding bodies, investment companies and development agencies
  • negotiating contracts and tenders
  • advising clients about financial and legal matters such as compulsory purchases
  • working out the likely economic, social and environmental impact of a development.

You would work closely with town planners, architects and construction professionals. On completion of a project, you might work in a marketing role to promote the development site to interested parties.

Hours and Environment

You would work 35 to 40 hours a week. Some contracts may include early starts, late finishes and weekends in order to meet deadlines.

Your time would be split between office and site work. Some contracts may involve overnight stays away from home.

Skills and Interests

  • excellent communication, negotiation and presentation skills
  • knowledge of local planning policies and procedures
  • good research and computer skills
  • good budget awareness and financial skills
  • networking skills
  • an understanding of environmental and sustainable development issues
  • report writing skills
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • the ability to deal with a wide variety of people.


You would need a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to work as a planning and development surveyor. Relevant subjects include:

  • surveying
  • business studies
  • economics
  • estate management
  • land and property development.

You can search for accredited qualifications on the dedicated RICS Courses website.

If you have a non-accredited degree, you would need to take a RICS' accredited postgraduate course in surveying. You could do this through an employer's graduate traineeship, or through full-time study.

If you are working in property or construction, you could take a distance learning postgraduate conversion course with the College of Estate Management (CEM). For details, see the CEM website.

If you have a BTEC HNC/HND or foundation degree in surveying or construction, you may be able to work as a surveying technician and take further training to fully qualify as a surveyor.

For more details about surveying careers and relevant degree programmes, contact the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


You should continue to update your knowledge and skills throughout your career. You would normally do this by working towards chartered status with the RICS or the Chartered Institute of Building's (CIOB) Faculty for Architecture and Surveying.

To qualify for chartered status through the RICS, you must complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) while you are working. You will need at least two years' relevant work experience and will have to attend an interview with a panel of assessors.

To apply for CIOB chartered status, you will need an accredited honours degree and two years' relevant work experience. See the CIOB website for more details.

Your employer may encourage you to take the one or more of the following work-based qualifications:

  • NVQ levels 3 and 4 in Built Environment Development and Control (includes options in planning, conservation and building)
  • NVQ 3 and 4 in Construction Contracting Operations
  • NVQ 3 and 4 in Surveying, Property and Maintenance.


Your main opportunities are with local authorities, government departments, construction firms, property developers, commercial property companies, building conservation bodies and specialist surveying practices.

The growing importance of sustainable development means you could use your specialist knowledge of regeneration, conservation and land management to good effect.

Promotion options include project or senior management roles, partnership in private practice or self-employment as a consultant. You could move into other areas of surveying or town planning. You could also work overseas, for example on disaster-relief projects.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open in a new window):

RICS Recruit
Property Week
Estates Gazette Property Jobs
Planning Resource

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • Starting salaries can be between 20,000 and 24,000 a year.
  • Experienced surveyors can earn between 25,000 and 38,000.
  • Chartered surveyors can earn over 40,000 a year.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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