A guide to building control jobs

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 9 Jun 2023

Surveyors working together on a construction site

Building control surveyors are the champions of safeguarding in construction; making it an excellent career pathway for those looking to protect people's safety, health and welfare in and around built environments.

These highly technical surveyors have an impressive ‘bird’s eye’ view of building processes, with a keen appreciation for regulation, policy and project management. This area of surveying yields impressive salary prospects and great variety in managing exciting, innovative projects with great social impact in communities around the world.

The building control surveying pathway will give you a skillset that underpins the success of any construction project. Keep reading to learn why building control surveyors are in demand, how you can develop as a building control surveyor and which skills you’ll need to land your next role.

Ready to kick-start your career? Check out the industry opportunities, roles and salaries for building control surveyors available on RICS Recruit.

What does a building control surveyor do?

A building control surveyor ensures that building regulations and other legislation are followed in the design and construction phases of building projects. Working for a local authority or private sector firm, they will determine if a property is likely to meet the required building quality standards. Learn more about the responsibilities of a building control surveyor on the RICS website.

Are building control surveyors in demand?

Yes, many UK employers and local authorities are seeking building control surveyors. This is because building control surveyors have a key role in developing cities, using their knowledge of building legislation to inform project planning and execution.

Building control surveyors possess two main areas of expertise which keep them in demand:

Building regulation and compliance

Building control surveyors are well-versed in local, national and international building codes, regulations and standards. They evaluate building plans, specifications and construction methods to ensure safety, accessibility, energy efficiency and structural integrity requirements are met. Their ability to navigate complex regulatory frameworks is vital for developers, architects, and construction firms to prevent costly errors, delays and legal complications.

Technical building knowledge

With a strong knowledge of building materials, construction techniques and structural engineering principles, building control surveyors can evaluate and verify building plans, identifying risks, assessing material suitability and offering suitable solutions for safe and durable structures. Throughout the building process, they will conduct site inspections, monitor construction progress and provide guidance to stakeholders, making their technical expertise highly sought after for ensuring quality and compliance in construction projects.

Is building control surveying a good degree?

An RICS accredited degree in building control is highly attractive to employers. This degree teaches the critical industry knowledge and skills to evaluate and apply building control practices and guarantees a high standard of professional and ethical competence.

For many employers, having an RICS accredited degree shows that applicants share their professional values. Likewise, they are committed to supporting trainee surveyors to achieve chartered status as part of their professional development.

Graduates with a non-accredited degree in building control (or a degree in an unrelated subject) can also become a chartered building control surveyor by completing a postgraduate qualification through a graduate or trainee scheme or a postgraduate conversion course.

How much do building control surveyors earn?

The average starting salary for building control surveying jobs is £22,000 a year, working 38-40 hours per week. You can expect to earn a base salary of around £39,000 when you first become chartered and later earn up to £70,000.

To learn more about salaries, check out building control jobs in your region.

What skills do you need to become a building control surveyor?
Building control jobs are often pursued by quantity and building surveyors as a natural progression of their experience. Yet as skills and training pathways are more refined across the construction sector, a career in building control is much more accessible to young people and graduates entering the built environment industry.

You can bring many transferable skills to a career in building control. Still, a good trick is to match your skills to the job – and if your skills don’t match, then to use all training opportunities to help you get there.

Here’s our list of essential skills for landing trainee building control jobs:  

  • Interest in and ability to understand and interpret building regulations, construction processes, legislation and requirements
  • Ability to explain complex issues and legal requirements in simple terms
  • Confidence to provide advice and guidance
  • Attention to detail, while able to see the bigger picture
  • Excellent communication skills, written and verbal
  • Strong IT skills and comfortable learning new technologies
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Strong time management and organisational skills
  • Strong relationship-building skills
  • Motivation to develop yourself and achieve professional accreditation
  • A full driving licence, to travel to sites

Even when applying for your first surveyor role, it’s useful to know the top skills high earning surveyors have. Employers value applicants with a mindset that reflects their industry, especially if they possess the skills to go with it.

There is always value in leveraging your existing skills, contacts and experience in a competitive job market. But don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet every criteria – showing drive and enthusiasm to develop your skills can go a long way. With construction projects at a record boom, it’s an excellent time to enter the surveying profession – and worthwhile to know how to take advantage of the skills gap.

Career progression paths for building control surveyors

Progression for a building control surveyor can vary depending on the sector you work in. Local authorities have large building control departments with well-established promotion routes, so these usually offer many opportunities for progression. You may also find working for different local authorities is a great way to broaden your experience.

In the private sector, progression is likely to depend on the employer you work for. It may be possible to advance through the firm's structure to a more senior position, or you may need to move to a larger company to progress.

After achieving chartered status, you can also practice globally.

Starting out as a trainee building control surveyor

Getting your first building control surveyor role is as challenging as it is exciting. Not only are building control surveyors in high demand; this is a highly rewarding career that offers great responsibility, specialist knowledge and a promising starter salary.

Entry to the profession is also more accessible, with many employers willing to support you to qualify through building control degree apprenticeships, from school leaver to postgraduate level. Meanwhile, your professional development will continue throughout your career, connecting you with opportunities to work on projects all over the world.

Feeling inspired? Learn how these surveyors got into their first surveying roles.

Get advice with choosing references for building control jobs. For all things related to graduate surveying, visit the RICS Recruit Graduate Hub.