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Rural Surveyor

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

Rural Surveyor

The Work

Rural surveyors (also known as agricultural surveyors) manage farms and estates. They also value property and assets, advise clients on legal and tax issues, and plan and develop land use.

As a rural surveyor, your work would involve:

  • the day-to-day running of the estate
  • maintaining the accounts
  • producing financial forecasts
  • dealing with grant and subsidy applications
  • negotiating land access, for example with utility or mining and quarrying companies.

You might carry out valuations for clients, covering property, machinery, crops and livestock. Valuations are usually done for sale, insurance, taxation or compensation purposes. You would then arrange auctions of farm property, including the marketing and publicity, and conduct the auction on the day.

In some roles you would create computer maps of the landscape, using geographical information systems (GIS), satellite imaging and precision measuring instruments. Organisations would then use these maps to decide how best to develop the land for other uses, such as leisure, conservation areas, specialised food production or biofuel crops.

Hours and Environment

Your core working hours would usually be 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, a lot of your time would be spent visiting clients on farms or estates, which could mean early starts and late finishes. Auctions may also take place at weekends to maximise attendance.

You would be expected to travel in this job, as clients may be spread over a wide area.

Skills and Interests

  • good analytical skills
  • good IT skills, particularly for mapping projects
  • the ability to assess the economics of different land uses, crops and animal breeds
  • excellent communication skills for dealing with people at all levels
  • a diplomatic approach and good negotiating skills
  • good project management skills
  • a good understanding of commercial and environmental issues in the rural economy
  • a sound knowledge of UK and EU agricultural and land-use regulations.


You would normally need a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) to become a rural surveyor.

You could choose from a range of relevant degree subjects including:

  • surveying
  • business studies
  • economics
  • land management
  • maths.

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

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

You could also qualify as an agricultural surveyor by taking a degree or postgraduate course at one of three colleges recommended by the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). These are at Reading, Cirencester and Newport, Shropshire. See the CAAV website for more details.

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

Experience of working on the land, for example in farming or conservation, could give you an advantage when looking for work. A driving licence could also be useful.

You can find more information about rural surveying as a career, details of degree subjects and course providers on the RICS website.


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 need at least two years' experience and you will have to attend an interview with a panel of assessors.

To apply for CIOB chartered status, you would need an accredited honours degree and two years' relevant work experience.

You could consider joining the CAAV, which offers a variety of membership options depending on your level of experience. They also offer examinations covering areas such as agricultural policy and EU regulations, diversification, environmental issues, tenancy law, taxation and dispute resolution. Contact the CAAV for more details.


You could find work with surveying practices, local authorities, conservation bodies and private landowners and farmers.

Diversification is becoming increasingly important in rural areas, and rural surveyors play an important role by advising on the re-development of land for other uses.

With experience, you could specialise in a particular area of surveying (such as valuations), or move into senior management positions, partnership in private practice or self-employment as a consultant.

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

RICS Recruit
Hays Recruitment
CAAV Recruitment
Farmers Weekly

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

Annual Income

  • Graduate salaries can be between 20,000 and 25,000 a year.
  • Experienced rural surveyors can earn between 26,000 and 38,000.
  • Chartered rural 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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