Quantity surveyors handle much of the preparation duties on a construction site before the building project starts. Many of their responsibilities include measuring the whole site for production, calculating the budget and managing the construction workers. Additionally, they prepare tenders, design economic plans and develop a way of building that promotes high-quality construction work. Most of the quantity surveying work is done on the site, thus quantity surveyors travel a lot. A career in quantity surveying is an excellent choice for those who are:
- Good at mathematics
- Gifted in figuring out the best deals
- Keen at paying attention to detail
Is Quantity Surveying a good career? Yes, quantity surveying is a good career because it offers the ability to move around sectors, career progression, and excellent compensation. Moreover, quantity surveyors spend much of their time on the field monitoring construction sites or meeting with clients, architects, and engineers. That means they rarely follow a set 9am to 5pm work schedule.
Quantity surveyors are also referred to as construction cost estimators, cost managers or cost consultants. In a nutshell, these professionals manage all costs related to construction and civil engineering projects. They work both in the office and the project sites, and their main aim is to minimize expenses. What’s more, quantity surveyors aspire to minimize costs without compromising on the work quality or failing to comply with the building, health and safety codes. In this article, I aim to answer your questions about this career field including is quantity surveying hard? Is quantity surveying stressful or boring? Is quantity surveying meant for me?
Is Quantity Surveying a Good Career?
Is quantity surveying for me? A career in quantity surveying is a worthwhile option for anyone with robust numerical and financial management skills, and loves traveling.
A quantity surveyor manages expenses relating to construction and civil engineering projects, from start to finish. He or she seeks to minimize the overall cost of the project and improve value for money. They do so while still adhering to the set standards of quality.
Here are the responsibilities of quantity surveying professionals:
- Prepare tenders and contract documents such as bills of quantities with the client or architect
- Analyze the repair and maintenance costs for the project
- Help in establishing a contractor’s or client’s requirements and perform feasibility studies
- Offer advice on procurement strategies
- Identify, assess and develop responses to project risks
- Assign work to builders
- Offer advice on contractual claims
- Do an analysis of outcomes and give detailed progress reports
- Perform a valuation of finished work and manage payments
- Gain an understanding of the implications of health and safety laws
After gaining adequate experience and specialist knowledge, quantity surveyors might also:
- Offer post-occupancy advice
- Provide advice on property taxes
- Help clients in identifying an accessing extra and alternative funding sources
- Assist clients in initiating building projects
- Give advice on the maintenance expenses of specific projects
Working hours for quantity surveyors vary. For instance, in the UK, quantity surveyors who serve as contractors on site may work from 7.30 am to 6.00 pm. Those who work in private practices or in local government departments might need to work from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.
Here’s what to expect from a career in quantity surveying:
- The work is office-based, but also involves frequent site visits
- Quantity surveying has for long been a male-dominated field, but the number of women recruits is increasing in both the private and public sectors.
- Freelance work is often possible with experience
- Traveling within a workday is likely and might involve overnight stays
- Opportunities for work overseas are available. That varies according to the employer-type and location of construction site.
What are the necessary qualifications? In order to become a quantity surveyor, one can earn a degree in quantity surveying. But it’s not a must to study that subject in order to join the profession. Anyone with a degree in a different course can pursue a postgraduate conversion course. The first bachelor’s degree can be in any discipline, but those which offer relevant knowledge are:
- Building and construction
- Civil or structural engineering
- Urban and land studies
People without a quantity surveying degree might begin in the field as technical surveyors or surveying technicians. However, to secure work as quantity surveyors, they’ll need to finish a degree program. They can join a part-time study program while still working.
In order to become a quantity surveyor, a person must possess the following skills:
- A practical and logical way of thinking
- Creative and innovative problem-solving skills
- Robust numerical and financial management skills
- Negotiation and teamwork skills
- The ability to understand sophisticated design and cost analysis IT packages
- The knowledge to write clear and accurate reports
- The ability to relax complex information in a clear way to a wide range of people
- Leadership skills
- Detailed understanding of past and current building technologies, processes, materials, commercial and legal issues
Average Quantity Surveying Salary USA and the UK
Any expat looking to move to the USA or UK might want to consider a career in quantity surveying as it pays well.
Average quantity surveying salary in the US is $60,694. Entry-level quantity surveyors with less than one-year experience make $56,000 while those with 1-4 years of experience earn $58,459. Professionals with 5 to 9 years of experience make an average of $69,363 and those with 10 to 19 years of work experience make $64,883. Quantity surveyors with a working experience of at least 20 years earn an average salary of $53,000.
On the other hand, quantity surveyors in the UK take home an average compensation of £33,265. Those with 20 years or more of working experience earn £45,794 on average while those with 10-19 years of experience make £41,531. Quantity surveyors with one to four years of experience get an average compensation of £29,638 and those with less than one year of experience earn £23,305.
Is Quantity Surveying Hard?
Like any other job out there, there are certain drawbacks to pursuing a quantity surveying career. The primary challenge in this profession is that it requires regular implementation of mathematical principles.
Depending on the project at hand, one might also have to fit into small spaces or climb high above the ground. That can be an issue for those with phobias.
Since it’s a job that involves working closely with others, quantity surveyors must have effective customer service skills and plenty of patience. For those who are introverted, or prefer to work alone, quantity surveying might not be the best career option.
In spite of those downsides, quantity surveying is an excellent field to enter. In general, quantity surveyors are highly sought after. People who choose to pursue this career rarely have trouble securing a job. Furthermore, jobs within this career path tend to pay very well, which means one can earn a stable living doing something they love.
Is Quantity Surveying Stressful or Boring?
Everybody has their own preferences when looking for a job. Some view paperwork as boring, whereas others might be bored by routine work. Still, others may not tolerate being in an office all day.
Quantity surveying is seldom a boring office profile because of its unique nature. Yes, it does involve paperwork, but at the same time, it also involves other techniques e.g., critical thinking, data analysis, and professional judgment. For instance, to become accustomed to building progress, quantity surveyors have to station themselves at a site or visit it frequently.
Individuals who cannot handle routine work may want to try different projects e.g., residential, hotel, development of public facilities, infrastructure, office etc. to widen their exposure and knowledge. Doing so can also give them an opportunity to work with a variety of professionals in the industry.
Quantity surveyors can also offer help in other tasks such as project planning, setup of project procedures and dispute resolution.
While quantity surveying is not boring, it can be a stressful job. Quantity surveyors at times have to deal with tight deadlines, long working hours, and poor work/family balance.
Is Quantity Surveying for me?
The distinct shortage of professionals in the quantity surveying field makes this an ideal occupation to consider. With the human population increasing, and construction activities expanding, quantity surveying is an excellent career to pursue.
Quantity surveyors do not necessarily have to pursue a quantity surveying degree; they can come from a wide range of academic backgrounds. For instance, an individual can get a bachelor’s degree in business management, building science, manufacturing engineering etc., and qualify for employment in the quantity surveying industry. That affords n individual the flexibility to select and pursue a degree program that suits their interests and academic strengths.
After getting a preferred degree, getting a job is usually not too hard. Employers in the construction industry are always looking to recruit quantity surveyors to provide cost estimates for building malls, homes, schools, office buildings and so on.
Assessing a profession’s average salaries plays an essential role in picking a job that rewards one’s efforts. As seen earlier, quantity surveying pays quite well, therefore choosing this career can be a profitable undertaking.
Unlike some job profiles like accountants, who usually work full-time in an office setting, quantity surveyors spend a portion of their work day at construction sites or supply markets. That is a good chance to develop worthwhile networks that can help to advance their career. With more experience, quantity surveyors can move into private practice and open their own companies. That way, they’ll likely draw in clients more easily with a wide network of professionals in the construction industry.
The primary employers of quantity surveyors include architects, engineering consultancies, housing associations, commercial businesses, mechanical contractors and local government agencies. Quantity surveying professionals can also gain employment from petroleum engineering firms, property developers, and surveying sections of civil engineering contractors. Many times, quantity surveyors also work alongside civil engineers, architects and other surveying professionals.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.