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28th Feb, 2024

Olivia Maguire
Olivia Maguire
Job Title
Content Marketing Lead

In this guide, we answer the question ‘what is a quantity surveyor?’ and what does a quantity surveyor do?’ as well as consider how to become a quantity surveyor and the roles and responsibilities that go with it.

What is a quantity surveyor?

Quantity surveyors are professionals who manage all aspects of the financial and contractual side of construction projects. Their duties include estimating costs, preparing tender documents, conducting cost analysis, managing contracts, and ensuring projects are completed within budget and to a high standard.

Those with a keen eye for detail, strong analytical skills, and excellent numerical abilities are well-suited for a career as a quantity surveyor. Effective communication and negotiation skills are also essential, as the work frequently involves interacting with clients, contractors, and other stakeholders.

Types of quantity surveyors

There are a number of different types of quantity surveyor. While the job itself remains largely the same, they often work for various organisations or individuals. These include:

Private practice quantity surveyor

They work for consultancy firms, providing services to clients across various sectors such as construction, infrastructure, and property.

Contractor quantity surveyor

Employed by construction companies to manage costs and contracts for specific projects.

Public sector quantity surveyor

Work within government departments or agencies, overseeing the financial aspects of public infrastructure projects.

Specialist quantity surveyor

Focus on specific areas such as mechanical and electrical works, sustainability, or dispute resolution within the construction industry.

What do you need to become a quantity surveyor?

Here are the quantity surveyor qualifications that you will need to obtain:

Academic qualifications

You will need a quantity surveying degree, or a postgraduate conversion course accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Useful degree subjects include construction, structural or civil engineering, maths, geography, economics, and land studies.

You could also choose to obtain your degree through an apprenticeship route. You could take a surveying technician advanced apprenticeship, followed by further on-the-job training, or a chartered surveyor or construction quantity surveyor degree apprenticeship.

Professional qualifications

Pursuing chartered status through RICS or the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) is essential for career advancement. According to RICS, a chartered surveyor is “a surveyor who has gained, and consistently demonstrates, a high level of skill or competence in their field of work, recognised by the award of formal accreditation from RICS”. Therefore, those who want to progress in their career would do well to gain chartered status.

Moving up the career ladder, surveyors can work in senior project management, supply chain management, consultancy work or self-employment, and could choose to specialise in a specific area like planning, risk assessment, or contract.


There are many skills required to be a quantity surveyor, including proficiency in cost estimation, contract management, financial analysis, and project management. You would also need to have strong IT skills, particularly in relevant software such as MS Excel and industry-specific tools.


Work experience and internships in construction firms, quantity surveying practices, or related industries will provide the valuable experience and insights you need to gain a better understanding of the profession. They will also put you in good stead when applying for entry-level jobs or apprenticeships.

Quantity surveyor role and responsibilities

So, what does a quantity surveyor do? They undertake a diverse range of responsibilities in their day-to-day job, including:

  • Establishing clients’ needs and assessing if plans are feasible

  • Working out the quantities and costs of materials, time, and labour

  • Negotiating contracts and work schedules

  • Advising on legal matters, including risks and disputes

  • Overseeing sub-contractors throughout the stages of construction

  • Reporting on costs and preparing accounts for payment

  • Keeping up to date with construction methods and materials

  • Following health and safety and building regulations

Quantity surveyors typically work standard office hours, although overtime may be required to meet project deadlines. Salaries vary depending on factors such as experience, qualifications, chartered status, location, and employer.

Entry-level quantity surveyors can expect to earn between £25,000 to £35,000 per year, with chartered professionals earning significantly higher salaries, often exceeding £50,000. Find out what you can expect to earn across different regions of the UK in 2024 by downloading our free property and construction salary guide.

Quantity surveyor career prospects

There is still high demand for quantity surveyors, driven by ongoing construction projects, infrastructure development, and increasing emphasis on cost management and sustainability in the UK. Chartered quantity surveyors with extensive experience and expertise are well-positioned for senior management roles, consultancy positions, or even establishing their own practices.

Major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh are abundant with opportunities for quantity surveyors due to the significant number of construction and infrastructure projects. Additionally, regions with booming property markets and government-led initiatives for infrastructure development provide ample employment prospects.

In conclusion, pursuing a career as a quantity surveyor in the UK offers a rewarding and challenging path for people with a passion for construction, finance, and project management. By acquiring the necessary qualifications, skills, and experience, aspiring quantity surveyors can embark on a fulfilling journey in this dynamic profession.

If you are looking for a property and construction professional, or seeking a new role yourself, get in touch with one of our specialist consultants today.