Put very simply, a quantity surveyor is responsible for working out how much it will cost to construct a building and maintain it. To practise as a QS, you need to have the right experience and qualifications. This will ensure a structured and successful career path.
There are a number of different organisations who offer certification but the most popular is RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). To gain Chartered status, a surveyor must pass the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence). However, even after you’ve gained your RICS qualification, there are plenty of opportunities to progress in this career.
Here’s an overview of the different career levels of a quantity surveyor. And how to achieve them:
What do assistant quantity surveyors do?
Although you don’t need to be fully qualified to become an assistant QS, experience and knowledge is vital. Show that you have an interest in key parts of the job such as contracts, procurement, cost forecasting and profit and loss monitoring.
These areas are the main tasks that will be given to an assistant QS once they first enter a company or qualify. More experience means more chances to take on new responsibilities.
How does an assistant QS get to the next level?
Complete the APC. It's not easy or essential, but it is a milestone in your career and key if you want to progress.
After graduating, the first few years as an assistant QS are about gaining as much experience in as many areas as possible. Even if you are working for a small surveying company, try to identify as hands-on opportunities much as possible. Look to work on across a mixture of refurbishments, new builds, residential and commercial.
Challenge yourself. Be the assistant all the seniors want to work with by delivering accurate work, hitting deadlines, delivering on promises and using your initiative. All of this will help you to earn the respect of your colleagues and make it more likely for you to move up the ladder quickly.
What do intermediate quantity surveyors do?
Once someone has gained up to four years of experience, they’ll be expecting to move into an intermediate quantity surveyor role. This means more responsibility for costing and commercial reporting of projects, as well as representing your company to clients.
At this level, it is unlikely that a quantity surveyor will have all of the knowledge to run the full project lifecycle. But this is the opportunity to gain that experience and fill the gaps.
How does an intermediate QS get to the next level?
Learning quickly about how to complete the full project lifecycle is key to career progression. By taking on more responsibility across a range of projects, you can start to gain experience in a variety of areas and gain important core skills.
What do project quantity surveyors do?
A project quantity surveyor manages the whole project from start to finish. This will include being able to estimate, do cost control, budgeting and also use their experience to manage subcontractors, suppliers and generate final reports and accounts.
As a lead on many projects, you’ll be expected to manage each aspect from inception to completion. At this level, you’ll really start to earn your stripes and a reputation.
How does a project QS get to the next level?
Building your reputation and getting yourself on first-name basis with clients is a good start. Aim to foresee any project obstacles, manage expectations and keep the ship steady. You'll find that clients will come back and you will gain the right levels of recognition from your team.
The good news is that progressing from project QS to senior QS is the easiest step you’ll take. Just take these steps first:
- Establish yourself as the client’s go-to point of contact.
- Be available to help out juniors when required.
- Deliver high-quality projects on time and within budget.
This will ensure you’re the first to be approached for promotion.