Job descriptions and industry overviews

Quantity surveyor: job description

28 Sept 2023, 15:44

Quantity surveyors estimate and manage the costs of materials and labour on large building projects.

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Quantity surveyor : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Quantity surveyors (also known as ‘cost consultants’, ‘commercial managers’, ‘cost managers’ and ‘cost engineers’ manage costs on construction projects. They estimate the cost of materials, work out what labour will be needed, manage budgets while construction is taking place and make sure work is completed within its projected budget.

The tasks involved in the job differ depending on the kind of organisation you work for. If you work for a consultancy, you’ll be involved on the design stage of a project. If you work for a contractor, you’ll be focusing on the construction phase of the work.

Typical duties include:

  • pricing/forecasting the cost of the different components needed for a project.
  • tracking changes to the design and/or construction work and adjusting budget projections in line with these.
  • selecting and/or sourcing construction materials.
  • sourcing contractors and/or subcontractors to work on the construction stage of the project.
  • measuring and valuing the work done on site.
  • dealing with financial and legal problems.
  • paying subcontractors.
  • liaising with the client and other construction professionals, such as site managers, project managers and site engineers.

You can read further details of what a quantity surveyor does and where the career could take you here .

If you work for a consultancy, you’re likely to be office based and work typical office hours, while if you work for a contractor, you may work from temporary offices on construction sites and go out on site often. Hours could be longer and may involve shifts. Find out more about the differences between working for a consultancy and a contractor .

Graduate salaries

Graduate quantity surveyors earn between £22,000 and £30,000 . Jobs in London will pay more than those elsewhere. You will earn more on qualification.

Typical employers of quantity surveyors

The main employers for quantity surveyors are:

  • specialist cost management/quantity surveying consultancies within the construction industry.
  • construction and engineering companies (consultants and contractors).

However, quantity surveyors may also find a few vacancies with these types of employers:

  • property firms and property developers.
  • architectural practices.
  • infrastructure and utility companies, eg Network Rail and Scottish Water
  • public sector organisations.

Vacancies are typically advertised on targetjobs , by careers services and by specialist recruitment agencies. You can also find vacancies on specialist construction and property websites and via professional bodies.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career as a quantity surveyor for both university graduates and school leavers. For school leavers, there are apprenticeships and training programmes.

As a graduate, in most cases, you’ll need:

  • either an undergraduate degree accredited by the RICS in quantity surveying, commercial management or a related construction subject
  • or a postgraduate conversion course (usually a PgDip or a masters) accredited by RICS.

However, a few employers will hire graduates with a non-accredited degree and sponsor them through the postgraduate conversion course. Read up on how to get an employer to do this here .

Once you’re employed, you are expected to work towards a chartership professional qualification with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Find out more about gaining your quantity surveying professional qualification .

Key skills for chartered surveyors

  • Numeracy.
  • Good IT skills and the ability to learn how to use specialist software.
  • Excellent relationship-building and interpersonal skills.
  • The ability to work in a team.
  • Negotiation skills.
  • Attention to detail and a methodical approach to work.

Head to our article on interview and assessment centre guidance for quantity surveyors next.

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