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Career progression pathways for Quantity Surveyors

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 23 Feb 2024

QS career progression

Getting started as a quantity surveyor is as challenging as it is exciting; with exposure to new, exciting projects that call for creative problem-solving and yield impactful results. It is a comprehensive, hands-on learning experience that allows professionals to regularly exercise their learned skills and take on increased responsibility in the field.

Certainly, the quantity surveyor career path is paved with opportunity for continuous professional growth, development and advancement.

And, like any profession, the path to success reveals new challenges along the way – from mastering essential skills to seizing leadership opportunities and exploring diverse avenues for progression. Keep reading to learn about roles quantity surveyors can progress to, with strategies and insights they can employ to develop their skills, expand their horizons and unlock the potential of the quantity surveyor career path.

Ready for that next career step? Check out industry opportunities, roles and salaries for quantity surveyors on RICS Recruit.

What does a quantity surveyor do?

Quantity surveyors are the financial maestros of the real estate and built environment world, responsible for controlling costs throughout a property’s life cycle. From cost estimation and budgeting to procurement and contract management, they ensure projects are financially viable and completed within budget constraints, while delivering exceptional results. Learn more about the responsibilities of a quantity surveyor on the RICS website.

How much do quantity surveyors earn?

Quantity surveyors start on an average salary of £25,000 a year, working 37-40 hours per week. This will typically increase to around £39,000 when they first become chartered. An experienced quantity surveyor can earn up to £80,000.

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

What are the opportunities for advancement on a quantity surveyor career path?

Quantity surveyors will encounter great advancement opportunities as they gain more experience. After achieving chartered status, they can practice globally, go into private partnership or start their own consultancy firm. They may progress to a senior management role or decide to move into a related field.

A quantity surveyor has core skills they can transfer across specialisms, especially if they have experience in managing the right projects. They may move into real estate verticals such as capital allowances and tax, legal services and dispute resolution, or supply chain management. The most popular roles pursued by experienced quantity surveyors are:

Cost manager

Cost managers are skilled at estimating project costs, tracking expenses and financial forecasting, with strong emphasis on identifying and maximising cost-saving opportunities. They use a range of tools and techniques such as value engineering, life cycle costing and risk management to help them organise and advise their staff and client appropriately. On average, cost managers earn £56,000 per year.

To progress to a cost manager role, quantity surveyors will need to develop their analytical and numerical skills, ability to quantify and cost construction works and demonstrate a proven track record of project financial control and reporting.

Learn more about career paths, required skills and expertise to progress to cost manager on Role Insights.

Senior quantity surveyor

A senior quantity surveyor has many of the same duties as a cost manager; they oversee project finances, lead teams and advise on cost management strategies. Their responsibilities include budget estimation, tendering and contract negotiation, risk assessment and ensuring compliance with regulations.

However, they assume a broader leadership position, providing commercial support, reporting directly to clients, mentoring junior staff and ensuring project profitability and success. Moreover, they leverage their experience and expertise to drive projects forward, navigating complex challenges with strategic decision-making. On average, senior quantity surveyors earn £57,000 - £69,000 per year.

To develop as a senior quantity surveyor, quantity surveyors will need a successful track record of managing projects pre and post contract, with extensive consultancy, client facing and team leadership experience.

Learn more about career paths, required skills and expertise to progress to senior quantity surveyor on Role Insights.

Progressing on a quantity surveyor career path

How can I become a quantity surveyor?

You can bring many transferable skills to a quantity surveying career, even from an unrelated subject. Entry to the profession is more accessible than ever, while many employers are willing to support your professional development up to postgraduate level. If you’re just getting started in the profession, you can learn more at our Graduate Hub, or read this guide to quantity surveying jobs.

Planning for quantity surveyor career progression

For junior professionals, or those making a strategic career shift, having a surveyor career plan is integral to success. Knowing which area of expertise you want to develop is the first and most important step to creating actionable goals, targeting skill development and maximising career growth opportunities. When considering a promotion, managerial role or specialisation, quantity surveyors can then make informed decisions in pursuit of their chosen career trajectory.

Wherever you are in your quantity surveying career, it’s useful to know the top skills high earning surveyors have. Employers benefit from the diverse experiences new talent can bring to a role, but they value a mindset that reflects their industry, especially if they possess the skills to go with it.

Showing drive and enthusiasm to leverage your existing skills, contacts and experience in a competitive job market can go a long way. With construction projects at a record boom, there are multiple opportunities to stand out and advance in your career – and worthwhile to know how to take advantage of the skills gap.

Ready to apply? Secure your next role by using our top five tips for writing a surveyor CV.

Be the first to know when quantity surveying jobs go live and which skills you’ll need to get that competitive edge. Visit Role Insights at RICS Recruit.