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A guide to graduate building surveying jobs

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 27 Jan 2023

an inclusive image for building surveyors

Building surveying is certainly a diverse and highly rewarding career, yielding excellent professional experiences and strong salary prospects. Above all, it provides a real opportunity to take part in exciting, innovative projects that have a positive impact on the built environment.

The building surveying pathway will engage you with the entire property life cycle, giving you a skillset that is foundational to the success of any real estate project. Keep reading to learn why building surveyors are in demand, how you can develop as a graduate building surveyor and which skills you’ll need to land your graduate role.

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

What does a building surveyor do?

A building surveyor assesses the quality of buildings across a range of property types, including commercial, residential and public sector properties.

They play a pivotal role in the entire life cycle of a real estate project, from the development, acquisition, occupation and disposal stages of a building. Learn more about the responsibilities of a building surveyor on the RICS website.

Is building surveying a good career choice for women?

Absolutely. In fact, women are actively encouraged to pursue building surveying. The profession benefits from diverse perspectives, skills and experiences and fostering inclusivity contributes to a more dynamic and innovative industry.

Catherine Thompson, Associate Building Surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield notes that female interest in the field has grown since she was one of three female building surveying students in the 90s. ‘Females make up a third of our Building Surveying team in Birmingham and it’s great to have such a good mix of people.’

Eilidh Littlejohn Stojsavljević, Associate Building Surveyor at Cushman & Wakefield, adds that it is crucial to dispel the misconception that building surveying is exclusively male-dominated and based purely on construction sites. 

‘The clue is in the title where buildings already exist and are occupied, needing our help to keep them sustainable and fit for the future. I love what I do and want to encourage more women to pursue careers in Building Surveying. We must do more to promote it in schools and universities as an exciting and inclusive profession.’

Are building surveyors in demand?

Very much so; due to a scarcity of new talent, many large employers around the UK are seeking graduate building surveyors.

Building surveyors have a unique blend of construction knowledge, design flair and property expertise which keep them in demand. These professionals are client facing, managing contractors, dealing with occupiers as well as the public. 

What are the typical duties of building surveyors?

Real estate is huge in its diversity from offices, retail, industrial, residential, as well as specialist purpose-built properties. A building surveyor provides many different services and can choose to generalise, or to specialise in specific areas.

Some aspects of a building surveyor’s workload include:

  •  Building pathology: Developing solutions to building defects
  • Design: Preparing conceptual and technical design proposals 
  • Project management: Managing design and delivery of construction projects
  • Building surveys: Carrying out site inspections and preparing detailed reports on a building’s condition
  • Property management: Preparing management plans for real estate assets
  • Contract administration: Running construction contracts from initial client brief to completion. Controlling a project to ensure it runs to time and budget and the product reflects client’s requirements
  • Client facing: Presenting ideas, discussing requirements and interpreting needs and objectives into specific requirements and managing these to conclusion. Interpreting client’s requirements into design plans, specification and obtaining competitive contractor’s costs and managing budgets
  • Construction technology: Understanding how a building is put together, how it can be adapted and how it should be repaired and maintained
  • Sustainability: Improving energy efficiency of buildings and reducing the impact on the environment
  • Conservation of historic buildings: Looking after as well as adapting for new uses
  • Planned preventative maintenance: Forecasting disrepair and applying future costs in undertaking the repairs in accordance with budgets
  • Regulatory consulting: Listed buildings, planning applications, building regulation approval and other statutory property legislation
  • Health and safety: Advice, construction, design and management regulations and the role of CDM Coordinator
  • Dilapidations: Landlord and tenant matters, including end of lease term dilapidations, both identification and negotiation of settlements
  • Party Walls, Neighbourly Matters and Right to Light: Documenting a legal agreement between parties arising from refurbishment, development and construction projects
  • Insurance: Reinstatement cost assessments for insurance purposes and repair works arising from insurance claims for building damage

Is building surveying a good degree?

An RICS accredited degree in building surveying is very attractive to graduate employers as this is the first stage of becoming chartered. This degree teaches the critical industry knowledge and skills to practice as a building surveyor and promotes a high standard of professional and ethical competence.

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

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

How much do graduate building surveyors earn?

The average salary for graduate building surveying jobs is £31,000 a year, working 38-40 hours per week. Typically, this salary ranges between £26,500 to £36,000. You can expect to earn a base salary of around £39,000 when you first become chartered.

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

What skills do you need to become a building surveyor?

Graduates can bring a great deal of transferable skills to a career in building surveying, even from an unrelated subject. Still, a good trick always 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 graduate building surveying jobs:  

  • Adaptability and enthusiasm to work in a consultancy environment
  • Strong interpersonal skills to demonstrate relationship building with clients
  • Motivation to develop yourself and drive to achieve professional accreditation
  • Confidence to work in a team and on your own initiative
  • Reasonable level of fitness and mobility
  • Commercial awareness
  • Good communication skills, written and verbal
  • Strong IT skills and comfortable learning new technologies
  • Strong maths skills, for numerical analysis and analytical thinking

Even when applying for your first building 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. 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.

Career progression paths for building surveyors

Building surveyors will find themselves with great advancement opportunities as they become more experienced. You may progress to project or senior management roles or decide to move into a related field.

After achieving chartered status, you can practice globally, go into private partnership or start your own consultancy firm.

Starting out as a graduate building surveyor

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

Entry to the profession is also more accessible than ever, with many employers willing to support you to qualify through building surveying 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 graduate building surveying jobs. For all things related to graduate surveying, visit the RICS Recruit Graduate Hub.