How to become a
quantity surveyor

Quantity Surveyor career - students at Uni

Date

How do you become a Quantity Surveyor? Is it a good career? Let’s ask a Quantity Surveyor!

Quantity Surveyor Career:
intro

With more than 50 collective years’ experience under our belts, we thought we could share some useful insights for those wondering if a Quantity Surveyor is a good career. We’ll also cover how you become a Quantity Surveyor. 

There are some excellent resources online to help you answer these questions, but we don’t see many resources written by Quantity Surveyors – and who better to advise you on this topic than an actual Quantity Surveyor?! 

Read this interview with Chartered Quantity Surveyor Roger Saunders – I asked him all the questions you could possibly want the answers to when considering a career as a Quantity Surveyor!

If you still have burning questions you can give us a shout on Facebook! Ok, let’s get stuck in.

How to become a quantity surveyor - students

Claire enders interviews
roger saunders, QS

Claire Enders – Saunders Quantity Surveyor Marketing:

“Hey Roger, as you know I noticed quite a few people search on Google each month to learn about a Quantity Surveyor career. Thanks for agreeing to answer my questions! So, let’s start from the beginning, with the question of how you become a Quantity Surveyor. 

What did your education and training path look like to become a Chartered Quantity Surveyor Roger?”

Roger Saunders – Saunders Quantity Surveyor Founder and Managing Director:

“I did A-levels at school with maths being useful, but not essential. I then did an RICS Quantity Surveying Diploma which was a three year course equivalent to a degree. During this course, we studied economics, construction, technology, contracts, and some fairly vocational type subjects. Things have changed a bit since then (It was a while back!), and you can now do a foundation course online with RICS. There are also postgraduate courses which allow for study full or part-time. For those near us in the North, Salford University offers a great course and you can find the details here.”

Claire Enders – Saunders Quantity Surveyor Marketing:

“What subjects or degrees are mandatory to do this job?”

Roger Saunders – Saunders Quantity Surveyor Founder and Managing Director:

“I don’t think any are mandatory, but it’s useful to have a skew towards mathematical, legal or technical construction base-skills.”

Claire:

“Was that always your dream job, or did you have other career aspirations?”

Roger:

“Well, I started out studying Accountancy and Finance, but after a year I wasn’t loving the course. I found Quantity Surveying work to be similar, but with a more practical bias.

The beauty of a career in Quantity Surveying, is that you are involved in the creation and construction of something – there’s a deliverable! Seeing buildings and infrastructures come to life that we have worked on is something that is really rewarding and constantly motivating.

When you work on a unique refurbishment of, for example, listed buildings or on the creation of a specialist manufacturing facility, the work can be both varied and interesting. Maybe endless rows of flats or houses, less so, but some people are really passionate about large-scale residential projects and they certainly are a staple of the work that we do.”

Claire:

“Do you think a Quantity Surveyor career is accessible to anyone, regardless of socio-economic status and gender? If not, what needs to change?”

Roger:

“It is, and should certainly be accessible to anyone, but in reality, there is a male dominance. I’ve personally worked with several female Quantity Surveyors and there is absolutely no reason for anyone not to pursue a Quantity Surveyor career.

We have been thinking internally about this lately though, and do recognise that women are under-represented in this field, although we are not quite sure why. This bias doesn’t seem to extend to Architecture or Design though – we often work with a design team made up of a broad range of people and a more balanced spread of genders.

Claire:

Is Chartership really necessary? Does it help you earn more money/attract bigger and better clients?”

Roger:

“Being chartered isn’t necessary – there are a lot of people who do Quantity Surveying work and do it very well, but do not have the chartered status. It is certainly desirable though – people want to know that you have achieved a certain standard in your training, just like with an accountant, lawyer or engineer!”

Claire:

“If you could change your career now, what would you do instead?”

Roger:

“Naval architect, but my daughter is going to train in that, so I can watch her!”

Claire:

“Ok here’s the one everyone wants to know and no-one dares to ask! Do you earn good money being a QS?”

Roger:

“I think the only way to be very rich as a Quantity Surveyor is to be an owner or partner of a very large consultancy. Most people however make a good living and are comfortable. You are certainly not going to go hungry!

Quantity Surveying is also a great foundation career for anyone who wants to move into dispute resolution, finance or property development – it opens many doors!”

Claire:

“How many hours a week do you work at each stage of your career?”

Roger:

“Just like with any other job, if you manage your time properly you should work 40 hours a week. However, it’s often hard to predict the workload and flexibility may be required. If you want to be an owner and self-employed, you have to do whatever hours are necessary!”

Claire:

“Does a Quantity Surveyor career mean lots of time on a construction site, or are you mostly in an office? What’s the split in an average week?”

Roger:

Maybe 75% office and 25% travelling to site and client meetings or meetings on site.”

Claire:

“What soft skills do you need to be a QS?”

Roger:

“People skills are absolutely essential. Firstly, with clients, they have to trust you entirely to manage their financial affairs with regards to the project. That’s a big responsibility!

With regard to contractors, you are in a negotiation situation, and if you’re known to have acted fairly in the past, you are far more likely to resolve difficult disputes or conflicts. Don’t forget, money is the one thing that people fall out over!

One great thing about working as a Quantity Surveyor is the variety it brings – you may work for and with every type of organisation under the sun. You liaise with company directors, committees, boards of trustees, lawyers, charities, funders, private individuals even members of the clergy, mountain rescue or facilities managers and get exposure to many different industries and professions – every client, job and thus day is different, and this is a big benefit with this type of job.

Claire:

“Finally, is an apprenticeship a good idea? Do you offer them?”

Roger:

“We do not offer them because we’re a small practice and it’s hard to support training. One of the interesting things to come out of the remote working trend, is that less people are office-based, and this does not help or stimulate young people to learn because there are less collaborative environments. 

Any sort of apprenticeship or training is a good idea though, and my top tip would be that it’s certainly useful to work on both sides of the profession i.e. for a contractor, but also to do work ‘client side.’

Quantity Surveyor career - students at Uni

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