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A short guide to the different types of surveying jobs

Written by: RICS Recruit
Published on: 29 Apr 2021

surveying specialisms

Surveying is not a one-size-fits-all career. There are lots of specialisms and areas of expertise that surveyors can work in. These range from examining pieces of art and antiques to rethinking urban landscapes.

Whether you’re thinking of retraining in a specific surveying area or want to find out about the types of surveying, this short guide will give you a quick overview of some specialist areas. 


Arts & antiques surveyor

One of the most specialised areas of surveying, working in the arts and antiques market gives surveyors lots of diversity. Whether it’s looking after museum collections on behalf of the public, or surveying pieces owned by private individuals, arts and antiques knowledge is highly sought after.

As well as being involved in the valuation of historical and cultural pieces, arts and antiques surveyors also advise clients on the sale, purchase and management of fine arts and antiques. This can involve helping clients with the storage, security, conservation, restoration, shipping and packaging.


Residential property surveyor

Helping to support a huge part of the UK economy, residential property surveying is one type of surveying that most people will be aware of. One of the main roles of residential property surveyors is to carry out surveys on residential buildings on behalf of homebuyers before they complete their property purchase.

Above and beyond this, residential property surveyors can help with:

  • Assessing the economic and environmental impact of major housing developments and visiting sites during build
  • Help to negotiate on behalf of tenants and landlords on issues such as rent or health and safety regulations
  • Help to manage property portfolios for clients and advise them on their contractual obligations


Valuation surveyor

Valuation surveyors work across a range of areas and types of portfolios. They are expected to have high levels of experience and expertise in detailing the value of residential, commercial and industrial properties.

Whether for a house or a sports stadium, valuation surveyors interpret the variables of an account or project and the market trends to come to a final valuation. Based on this, valuation surveyors will advise landlords, tenants or homebuyers and help them during the legal and surveying processes.


Commercial property surveyor

Commercial surveyors advise on the conditions of commercial buildings and help during the development or construction of commercial projects. As specialists in the market, commercial property surveyors can:

  • Carry out surveys on existing commercial buildings and help advise clients on their lease or purchase
  • Help clients to manage their commercial development project, whether its information on planning and legislation, or on-site inspections and advice
  • Advise on wider commercial construction issues such as sustainability, energy efficiency and health and safety


Dispute resolution surveyor

Whether there’s a dispute over contracts, boundaries or planning, dispute resolution surveyors can act as mediators or arbitrators to help resolve problems across property, land and construction sectors.

As well as playing a key role during the mediation of disputes in land, property or construction, dispute resolution surveyors can also act as expert witnesses during particular tribunals or be an independent expert in certain proceedings.


Facilities management surveyor

This role can have a huge positive impact on the productivity of a company, its employees and its clients. Facilities management surveyors can help to advise and support the management of all services and built environment infrastructure.

The role includes:

  • Advising on how to develop their workspaces to become more productive or engaging
  • Evaluate the lifecycle of the building, such as windows, lifts, toilets, carpets etc
  • Ensuring health and safety regulations are adhered to
  • Recommending how to cut operational costs.

These surveyors work across a range of industries and are highly specialist in their area.


Building surveyors

This is one of the broadest areas of surveying. Building surveyors work across a range of projects and offer advice on lots of areas from design and construction to the refurbishment and restoration of existing buildings.

Among their specialities, building surveyors can:

  • Report on the quality and recommend ways of improving different types of buildings
  • Help architects to create plans and estimates for new projects and can oversee budgets and work during their development
  • Provide legal and regulations advice in areas such as valuation, purchase and health and safety.


Quantity surveyors

Experts in financial management, quantity surveyors are involved in the valuation, estimation and costings of a variety of construction projects. Strong analytical and communication skills are vital to ensure value for the client. Quantity surveyors help to keep construction projects on track financially.

As well as creating contracts and drawing up bills of materials, quantity surveyors can also help to project the cost of ongoing maintenance and repair of buildings, as well as negotiating with contractors.


Rural surveyors

Otherwise known as land agents, rural surveyors can offer advice on the management and valuation of farms and estates. A wide-ranging role, rural surveyors will:

  • Help to review and plan rents, sales and lettings
  • Advise on land and estate management
  • Understand the opportunities in renewable energy and how to apply them to rural businesses. 

RICS surveyors provide advice and services across land surveying, both in the UK and globally. As well as having a key role in managing agricultural and rural projects, rural surveyors also have an influence on the impact of tourism and the diversification of land and rural areas.

Have a look at all the roles under these specialisms that are available on RICS Recruit.