Graduate quantity surveyor jobs
How to get a job in quantity surveying or building surveying
Most graduate quantity surveying jobs or schemes can be found with:
- Construction companies (consultants or contractors)
- Specialist cost management consultancies or chartered surveying firms
- Public sector organisations
However, a few vacancies can be found with utilities and infrastructure organisations, with property firms or within the public sector.
The majority of building surveying graduate roles are with large property firms, but there will also be vacancies at:
- Housebuilders and housing associations
- Construction companies, particularly consultancies
- Specialist chartered surveying firms and estate agencies
- Local authorities
Some employers require graduates to have at least a 2.1, but others will accept 2.2s. The recruitment process will vary hugely according to the size of the employer you apply to. Large organisations – across the public and private sectors – tend to have a very structured process, which after an application form usually involves online testing, a first-round interview (either telephone or video) and an assessment day. Smaller employers tend to have a simpler process, likely involving a CV and covering letter, followed by an interview.
If you have an RICS-accredited degree, you will probably be asked to demonstrate your technical knowledge, either by answering questions in an interview or by undertaking an assessment day interview. Read our advice on how to handle technical assessments for quantity and building surveyors.
Do you apply for graduate jobs or graduate schemes?
You can either apply for a specific graduate job or trainee position at a particular location or you can join a graduate scheme. On a graduate scheme, you may be placed in one location long term or you may be expected to relocate to several offices or projects throughout the scheme.
What deadlines do I need to meet if I want a job?
The deadlines for applications vary depending on the type of employer. Property firms tend to close their vacancies in November and December. Construction, house-building and quantity surveying employers often initially set a similarly early deadline, but will extend the deadline if they get an influx of projects and need to hire more graduates. Local authorities tend to offer quantity and building surveying jobs on an ad hoc basis.
The top skills needed to get a job in quantity surveying or building surveying
Both building surveyors and quantity surveyors need to:
- Be numerate. Essential for the job of a quantity surveyor, commercial manager or cost consultant as they price construction work, this ability also underpins much of the work of a building surveyor.
- Have relationship-building and client management skills. Essential when interacting with clients and other professionals and colleagues. Quantity surveyors are likely to liaise with contractors and subcontractors, while building surveyors will be dealing with homeowners, tenants and other interested parties such as insurers.
- Be good negotiators. Quantity surveyors negotiate costs on a construction project, while building surveyors may negotiate repair work or a financial settlement.
- The ability to retain building regulations and legislative requirements. And to apply it in real life situations.
What is it like to work as a graduate quantity surveyor or building surveyor?
The work of a quantity surveyor (also known as a commercial manager or cost manager) will differ considerably depending on which stage of the construction project you work for: the design or the build stage.
Quantity surveyors who work on the design stage will usually work for a construction consultancy; the work will be office-based with typical office hours and much of their time is spent working out the costs of different designs and preparing information for tender. Quantity surveyors who work on the build stage typically work for a construction contractor and will be based on a construction site, with longer hours and earlier starts. They will split their time between a site office and being out on site, checking that work has been done, pricing the work and paying subcontractors. The exact role at other types of employers will differ according to the employer’s remit. Quantity surveyors work in multidisciplinary project teams, alongside site managers and engineers among professionals.
A building surveyor’s day will typically be split between being out on clients’ sites (or project sites) carrying out technical inspections and surveys, and their offices, where they will typically write their reports. As there is so much travel, many employers require you to have a driving licence. Working hours are usually typical for an office. It’s a very sociable job, where you will liaise with clients and professionals in other fields. As the job involves considerable interaction with clients, it is important that you can express technical concepts in a way that can be understood by people without technical knowledge.
What degrees do you need to become a quantity surveyor or building surveyor?
To become a graduate quantity surveyor or building surveyor you need a subject relevant degree accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). If your undergraduate degree isn’t accredited, you can either:
- Study a postgraduate conversion course – usually a PGDip or a masters – and then apply for a job
- Apply for a ‘non-cognate’ graduate scheme: that is, apply to an employer who will hire you without an accredited degree and pay for you to study the conversion course while working for them.
There are more non-cognate graduate schemes available in quantity surveying than building surveying.