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Career progression for a quantity surveyor

10 Apr 2019

A career in quantity surveying presents myriad opportunities for professionals. At its core, it involves managing costs to ensure that economic productivity is considered when high-quality structures are commissioned to be built. Those in this role handle responsibilities at every stage of the project, adhering to budgets, regulations and deadlines, and are essential to the engineering lifecycle.

The UK government has already commissioned the High Speed Two (HS2) project and more large infrastructure projects in rail and energy are on the way - which means there is a strong need for quantity surveyors in the current market. These niche skills are especially valuable and in-demand which allows those looking for a career in quantity surveying to receive great offers with extra benefits.

It’s a flexible job which allows you to gain work from a consultant, a contractor or with experience, you can work as a freelancer. There is also the opportunity to work in an office or on-site depending on your preference.

Typically, starting off as a graduate, there are many ways your career can progress in quantity surveying both vertically and horizontally. If you’re wondering where a career in quantity surveying can take you and how quickly you can expect to get there, just keep reading:

Trainee/junior/assistant quantity surveyor

Starting a career in quantity surveying begins with an undergraduate degree in quantity surveying – they are accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Graduates who have studied other degrees can still enter this profession by completing RICS’ postgraduate conversion course.

Because these skills are highly in demand, many employers are willing to hire and support graduates who aren’t accredited yet and sponsor them while on the job. To reach a Chartered Surveyor status, and gain a higher salary, you will need to complete the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) while employed.  

As a junior quantity surveyor, you’ll be learning to manage contracts and procurement whilst considering cost forecasting and familiarising yourself with monitoring profit and loss from each project. You may also produce internal and external commercial reports, but most of your work will be supporting that of senior quantity surveyors.

The benefit of joining a reputable contractor at the beginning of your career is that they can offer you with the support and experience that you need to develop in your role. You can expect to work for 2-3 years at this level while gaining experience and understanding before progressing into a more intermediate and knowledgeable role and title. 

Intermediate-senior quantity surveyor

In order to progress to an intermediate level and lose the “junior” title, you should be able to work independently and manage large scale commercial projects with little to no supervision.

You have the option at this stage to either specialise in a certain type of infrastructure or construction project (e.g. waste management, highways, bridges). Similarly, you can specialise in a discipline instead, for instance, civil engineering, capital allowances or legal services.

As you specialise, you will gain more industry expertise and knowledge which can propel you to an even higher stage in your career as your services become more valuable and independently led. After a further 2-3 years, you can expect to rise to a senior position.

At this stage, you will also begin to hone your mentoring and leadership abilities by becoming responsible for overseeing and supporting junior or trainee quantity surveyors.

Continued personal development (CPD) within quantity surveying is extremely important and essential to your professional development. It also provides you with further training opportunities, network connections and a portfolio of work to showcase your range of professional abilities.

With enough experience, you can also enter the world of freelance work which provides you with even more flexibility and independence within this career path.

Managerial positions

The natural progression from a senior quantity surveyor position is to enter a managerial position which involves a wider sense of responsibility on a range of projects. Managerial roles such as a quantity surveyor manager or commercial manager entail liaising with suppliers as well as maintaining positive relationships with clients.

These positions typically take 10+ years within quantity surveying to reach and require experience in a commercial role. You should be very comfortable with the systems and processes within quantity surveying and with maintaining client relations.

If you wish to reach a management position, it’s important that as part of your CPD, you demonstrate proven leadership abilities, communication skills and analytical abilities. In this highly authoritative position, you will be communicating with stakeholders and handling all deadlines and cost analysis related to delivering your projects to a high standard.

A job as a quantity surveyor is challenging and thrilling but also highly rewarding. It’s especially favourable to those with a curiosity to keep learning throughout their career and value teamwork.

To further enhance your career progression, you can become a member of relevant quantity surveying institute including:

Apply for jobs in quantity surveying with PSR Solutions

PSR Solutions are specialists in UK construction recruitment, providing jobs in building, mechanical and civil engineering, infrastructure, rail and more. If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, allow us to provide you with expert support and guidance throughout this process. You can browse and apply to our many quantity surveyor job vacancies today.