Quantity surveyors estimate costs and manage budgets for building and construction projects.
They are responsible for working out the initial costings of a project and monitoring progress to ensure that the work is completed to a high standard and within budget.
This detailed guide includes a full quantity surveyor job description and covers everything you need to know about quantity surveyors, such as average salaries, requirements, career progression and more.
- Quantity surveyor job description
- How much do quantity surveyors earn?
- What does a quantity surveyor do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs quantity surveyors?
- Which junior jobs progress to quantity surveyor roles?
Quantity surveyor job description
Quantity surveyor | Smith Property Development
About Smith Homes
Smith Homes are an award-winning property development company bringing over 60 years of nationwide experience in delivering high-quality buildings and complex developments to both the private and public sectors.
About the role
You will be responsible for managing the viability and costs of multiple residential and commercial property developments across the North East, to enhance revenue and profit through careful negotiation and value engineering strategies.
- Meeting with clients to discuss project requirements
- Undertaking feasibility studies, site surveys and estimations
- Preparing contract documents and tenders
- Identifying commercial risks and developing appropriate responses
- Allocating and monitoring the work of subcontractors
- Ensuring that all projects are delivered on time and within budget
- Analysing project outcomes and creating detailed financial reports
- Maximising potential project income at all times
- Ensuring compliance with all health, safety, sustainability, quality and other statutory requirements
Location & commitments
- Full-time role — 40 hours per week with occasional overtime
- Must be willing to work flexible hours, with regular early mornings (6-7 am)
- Office based in Newcastle with regular site visits across the North East
- Chartered Quantity Surveyor – full RICS member
- Proven experience of managing all projects from inception to completion
- Ability to interpret, understand and organise construction and buildings plans and specifications
- Exceptional numeracy & financial management skills
- Up to date with current residential building regulations
- Full UK Driving license
- 2+ years of experience working in property development
Contact us to apply
If you’d like to apply, get in touch with our HR manager, Melanie Jones, at email@example.com — attach your CV, a cover letter and let us know why you make the perfect fit for our team!
How much do quantity surveyors earn?
Quantity surveyors are generally well-paid, with an average UK salary of £34,678.
Quantity surveyor salaries in the UK
- Low: £21,000
- Average: £34,678
- High: £47,000
Quantity surveyor salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- Whether the candidate is chartered – Chartered quantity surveyors typically earn significantly more than non-chartered quantity surveyors
- Job seniority and responsibilities – Salaries go hand in hand with the level of seniority and responsibility required for the role
- Project size and type – Typically speaking, the larger and more complex the project/job, the higher the payment will be
For example, a chartered quantity surveyor working on large, commercial projects in London is likely to earn significantly more than a non-chartered quantity surveyor working on small-scale residential projects outside of the capital.
The figures listed above are taken from a range of job advert samples and do not include valuable extra benefits such as bonuses, overtime and car allowances.
What does a quantity surveyor do?
A typical quantity surveyor job description includes the following duties, tasks and responsibilities:
- Meeting with clients – Meeting with clients to discuss their requirements and advising whether their plans are doable
- Estimating costs – Carrying out feasibility studies for client requests (assessing the practicalities of a project) to calculate time, material and labour costs
- Preparing tenders & contracts – Creating tenders (a written offer for the supply of goods and services) and contractual documents
- Providing legal advice – Giving legal advice to clients on issues such as taxation and health and safety
- Assigning & co-ordinating work – Assigning duties and tasks to contractors and monitoring their progress
- Valuing work – Assessing and valuing contractor’s completed work and arranging for payments
- Managing risks – Identifying project risks and working out the financial impacts of the risks
- Monitoring costs – Monitoring costs and ensuring budgets are adhered to throughout
- Writing reports – Creating and updating a range of documentation to track financial costs of projects
What do quantity surveyors need?
Quantity surveyors require a wide range of skills, experience, knowledge and essential qualifications in order to gain a role and progress within the industry.
Specific requirements will vary from role to role and depend heavily on the seniority required for the project — but generally speaking, here is what’s needed:
Junior/trainee quantity surveyor jobs (for those without a degree) typically require one to two years of relevant experience, such as a surveying technician or surveying assistant — but the candidate will have to be willing to study for a degree or conversion course alongside their role.
Graduate quantity surveyor/assistant surveyor jobs will usually require the candidate to hold a relevant degree or conversion degree with some placement experience, but typically don’t require any additional experience.
Chartered quantity surveyor jobs will typically require at least two years of experience as an assistant or graduate surveyor, as this is the amount of time it normally takes to pass the APC and become chartered.
Quantity surveyor skills
In order to thrive within the job, quantity surveyors need a range of qualities, skills and capabilities, including:
- Technical knowledge: Understanding past and current building and construction technologies, building regulations, processes and materials, as well as legal and contractual matters
- Communication: Passing on complex project information to non-technical clients and colleagues in a clear, understandable way
- Writing: Writing accurate and well-written financial progress reports for clients
- Numeracy: Accurately calculating project costs, tracking budgets and managing finances
- Attention to detail: Ensuring all work is of a high-standard, legal and in line with the contract, in order to reduce the potential for errors
- Organisation: Keeping up with a huge range of figures, data, paperwork, contractors and tasks
- Negotiation: Negotiating with suppliers and contractors to maximise profitability and get the best value for money for clients
- IT: Using a range of sophisticated and complex costing IT packages to ensure pricing is accurate
Quantity surveyor qualifications
While it’s possible to start out as a trainee or technical surveyor without qualifications, further study is necessary in order to become a chartered quantity surveyor, which is where the best salaries lie.
Here are the essential qualifications, as well as some optional top-ups, required to become a quantity surveyor in the UK:
In order to study to become a chartered quantity surveyor, a degree is essential.
Most quantity surveyor graduate jobs and schemes require a degree in either quantity surveying and/or commercial management. Typically, the degree must be accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The majority of courses take either three or four years and offer practical quantity surveyor work experience as part of the course structure.
It’s possible to undertake a quantity surveyor degree whilst working part-time as part of an advanced apprenticeship — the key advantage to this is that it’s typically fully-funded by the employer.
Postgraduate conversion course
For those with a degree in a subject other than quantity surveying, it’s possible to take a one or two-year conversion course offered by the RICS.
While degrees in any subject can be accepted onto the course, the following related subjects can be highly beneficial in terms of having the correct background knowledge:
- Urban and land studies
RICS membership (MRICS)
Becoming a fully qualified chartered surveyor brings wider industry recognition, higher salaries and enhanced career development opportunities.
To become a chartered RICS member, workers must pass the Assessment of Professional competence (APC) and meet one of the following criteria:
- Relevant experience and an RICS-accredited degree
- 5 years of relevant experience and any bachelor’s degree
- 10 years of relevant experience operating at an advanced level by seniority, specialisation, or in academia
Many employers support their trainee and graduate employees to work and study towards accredited status whilst in full-time employment.
What is expected of quantity surveyors?
Quantity surveyors will typically be expected to commit to the following:
- Full-time hours – The majority of quantity surveyor jobs demand full-time hours — around 35 – 40+ hours per week
- Varying hours – Hours will vary depending on the site — some projects require long shifts in line with site hours, such as 7 am to 6 pm, but other roles fit the more traditional hours of 9 am – 5 pm
- Regular overtime – Overtime and weekend work is common, in order to meet project deadlines
- Location – Typically office based with regular site visits — though some sites will have an on-site office
Quantity surveyor benefits
On top of the base salary, quantity surveyors will normally receive a decent benefits package, including perks like:
- Bonuses – based on meeting targets
- Shift allowances – extra pay for any unsociable hours worked
- Private healthcare
- Pension scheme
- Company car or car allowance
Who employs quantity surveyors?
Quantity surveyors work on construction projects across numerous sectors, such as residential, commercial (office blocks), retail and more.
Due to the ongoing need for construction projects to be carried out, quantity surveyors are always in high demand. In recent years, there’s been an ongoing quantity surveyor shortage in the UK, meaning employment opportunities and career prospects in the sector are thriving.
Employment opportunities for quantity surveyors are varied but typically fall into one of the following brackets:
- Working for a company which provides quantity surveying services to other businesses, such as civil engineering consultancies or private practice quantity surveyor companies.
- Working for a company that takes on large construction projects themselves, such as local authorities, property developers, utility companies and engineering organisations.
Which junior jobs progress to quantity surveyor roles?
The most common route into quantity surveying is to graduate from a quantity surveying degree or conversion course and then gain a graduate role.
However, the following entry-level roles make for a good foot in the door to the sector and often lead to funded on-the-job training to become a chartered quantity surveyor:
Surveying technicians — also known as surveying assistants and technical surveyors — provide assistance to chartered surveyors and other construction professionals. These roles typically include accompanying surveyors to site and providing support as required, as well as completing general administrative duties in the office. These junior roles make for a great way to learn the ropes and, for the right candidates, generally lead to further career and study opportunities.
Trainee quantity surveyor
Trainee quantity surveyors work under the supervision of a qualified surveyor on project planning, cost planning and cost control reporting tasks. Unlike graduate schemes, employers are sometimes willing to recruit trainees without quantity surveyor qualifications, providing they’re willing to study for a degree alongside the role.
Which senior jobs do quantity surveyors progress to?
Even though quantity surveying is a rewarding and often lucrative career choice in its own right, gaining experience in the sector can lead to all sorts of exciting career progression opportunities, such as:
Senior quantity surveyor
With a few years of experience as a chartered quantity surveyor, most quantity surveyors move into the role of senior quantity surveyor. This role typically involves working completely unsupervised and independently, on bigger and more complex commercial sites, tasks and projects.
After around eight years of chartered experience, it’s possible to move into the role of commercial or project manager. These roles include taking complete responsibility for the financial and commercial success of a project as it progresses and involve overseeing the work of a team of surveyors, estimators and planners.
Freelance/consultant quantity surveyor
Many charter quantity surveyors eventually decide to move into freelance or consultancy-based work, where they work for multiple employers on a project-by-project basis. This typically offers highly generous day rates and an added degree of flexibility but lacks the security and benefits of a permanent role.
Quantity surveyor job description – conclusion
Building and construction projects are always on the go, making the skills of a quantity surveyor highly valuable and in-demand.
The role requires a degree and, eventually, chartered membership to the RICS — but due to the quantity surveyor shortage, study is increasingly fully-funded by employers.
A job as quantity surveyor offers a challenging and varied work life, as well as above-average salaries and fantastic opportunities for progression.