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Quantity Surveyor

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

Quantity Surveyor

The Work

As a quantity surveyor you would play a key role in a building project, managing the costs from the early design plans, through to the building's completion. Your priorities would be to make sure that projects meet legal and quality standards, and that clients get good value for money.

You might work on:

  • housing and industrial sites
  • retail and commercial developments
  • roads, rail and waterways.

On most projects, your main responsibilities would be:

  • carrying out feasibility studies to estimate materials, time and labour costs
  • negotiating and drawing up bids for tenders and contracts
  • monitoring each stage of construction to make sure that costs are in line with forecasts
  • providing financial progress reports to clients
  • advising clients on legal and contractual matters
  • acting on clients' behalf to resolve disputes
  • assessing the financial costs of new environmental guidelines, such as using sustainable timber.

You would use computer software to carry out some of these tasks, and to keep records, prepare work schedules and write reports. You might also deal with the maintenance and renovation costs once buildings are in use.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, although some overtime may be required on evenings or weekends.

Your time would be split between office-based duties and site visits.

Skills and Interests

  • a good knowledge of construction methods and materials
  • budget handling skills
  • excellent IT and maths skills
  • a methodical approach to work
  • good organisational skills
  • a clear understanding of Building Regulations and other legal guidelines
  • excellent communication and negotiating skills
  • the ability to work as part of a team.


You need a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to qualify as a quantity surveyor. Relevant subjects include:

  • surveying
  • construction
  • civil engineering
  • structural engineering.

You can search for courses on the dedicated RICS Courses website.

With a non-accredited degree, you would need to take a postgraduate course in surveying. You might do this through a graduate traineeship, or by studying full-time at an approved university.

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

If you have a BTEC HNC, HND or foundation degree in surveying, you may be able to start work as a surveying technician then complete further study to qualify as a quantity surveyor. See the job profile for Technical Surveyor for more information about this route.

You can find out more about careers and courses in surveying, by visiting the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Chartered Institute of Building websites.


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

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

If you want to apply for CIOB chartered status, you will need an accredited honours degree and two years' relevant work experience.

For more details about training and professional development options, contact RICS or the CIOB.


Typical employers include local authority and government departments, private practice, building contractors, property companies and civil engineering firms.

With experience and professional development, you could progress to project management, consultancy work or self-employment. You could also use your skills to move into some of the other branches of surveying listed in the Related Profiles section.

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

RICS Recruit
Careers in Construction

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Annual Income

  • Starting salaries can be between 20,000 and 25,000 a year.
  • With experience this can rise to between 25,000 and 45,000.
  • Senior chartered quantity surveyors can earn between 50,000 and 80,000 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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