Aaron Higgins, Associate Director and Head of Boden Property was a Quantity Surveyor before he took the leap into the recruitment sector, he discusses what the career path in Quantity Surveying could look like in the property and construction sector.
A Quantity Surveyor, amongst other things, manages all the costs and calculates the number of materials needed for projects, they manage this from pre-construction all the way through to final figures and final accounts.
Planning your Quantity Surveying Career
As a Quantity Surveyor, you will seek to manage cost-effective projects and reduce the risk of construction projects while meeting all required legal standards in regards to health and safety and quality.
As with most professions, you can choose to be a generalist or a specialist in your expertise, Quantity Surveying is no different. You could be a generalist who covers multiple aspects of a building/construction project or you could be a specialist in a specific area of a building/construction project. In addition to this, you could specialise in a particular type of building project, for example, residential, retail, commercial and mixed-use developments.
You won’t know what area you want to specialise in until you have gained some experience in different building/construction projects. But it is useful to have a think about what areas of the role you enjoy or excel at the most.
Why should you plan your career?
There are many different types of Quantity Surveyors and it may depend on your personality and what you want to achieve as to which journey you decide to take. If you want to become a Chartered Surveyor it is best to take an MRICS accredited degree. This is more suited to a consultancy QS and there are defined steps as to how to become chartered whilst working. If you are more interested in working on-site or client-side then you are less likely to become chartered and your career will develop depending on your experience, as much as your qualifications.
Either way, it is never a bad thing to become chartered from any governing body, as you will learn more and maybe seen more favourably amongst your peers.
What qualifications do you need?
Most Quantity Surveying roles require the candidate to hold a Quantity Surveying or Commercial Management undergraduate degree which can be lead to becoming chartered by either The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Chartered Institute of Builders (MCIOB)
If you are just starting out and exploring Quantity Surveying as a potential career path, there are currently more than 300 undergraduate courses covering land, property and construction across UK Universities.
Alternatively, if you already hold an undergraduate degree you can complete an RICS accredited postgraduate qualification and convert to Quantity Surveying.
Here are some useful subjects which fit Quantity Surveying;
- Structural engineering
- Civil engineering
What skills do you need to be a successful QS?
- Time Management
- Strong Mathematics
- Good negotiation skills
- Attention to detail
- Strong written and verbal communication
Roles and job requirements will vary depending on whether you work for a consultancy or a contractor, but here some of the typical tasks you may be expected to carry out:
- Research the clients needs and assess the feasibility and scope of the plans
- Budget the costs of the whole project including the logistics, materials needed, time to complete the project, labour needed etc.
- Review tender documents and agree on contract terms with suppliers
- Negotiate contracts and work schedules with suppliers and contractors
- Liaise with all stakeholders on any issues which arise through the project
- Manage budget throughout the whole project
- Compile costing reports and prepare accounts for payments
What do you do now?
For anyone who is interested in a career in Quantity Surveying, I would always advise them to speak to QS’ who are working at the moment, try to get work experience if possible before going to university. There are companies who will pay you to study and work part-time. This can be valuable and speed up your personal career but usually takes longer to complete your education. One of the main benefits to this is that you know you enjoy the role before completing 3+ years of university only to discover that it’s not for you and you can also complete a degree without any debt and a job at the end of it.
There is no fixed way of becoming a QS but I would always advise you speak to as many people as possible before starting your career.