What Is a Quantity Surveyor? A Complete Guide
Updated 20 March 2023
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Quantity surveyors are professionals in the construction industry who manage the contractual and financial aspects of small and large construction projects. Their service is instrumental in keeping projects on track and within budget. Learning more about this profession may help you decide if this career is right for you. In this article, we discuss what a quantity surveyor is, what their responsibilities are and how you can become one.
What is a quantity surveyor?
A quantity surveyor is a professional responsible for estimating costs and maintaining a budget for a construction company. They ensure that the structures under construction meet the required legal and quality standards. These surveyors are often involved at each stage of a project. They make sure that a project does not exceed its set budget by communicating with clients, construction workers and a construction company's accounting department. They often visit construction sites to monitor a project's progress and to ensure that construction activities fall under a prescribed budget.
What does a quantity surveyor do?
The primary duties of a quantity surveyor include:
Providing an estimate for material costs: Quantity surveyors consider the type and amount of material needed for a construction project, as well as other expenses involved, to provide an estimate of its cost to clients.
Analysing construction blueprints: They often study blueprints to analyse various aspects of construction like costs, time schedule and materials required. They must also ensure that the construction adheres to building regulations like health and safety.
Negotiating contracts to stay within a budget: When creating a budget for each project, quantity surveyors often write and negotiate contracts between their clients and the construction company. They estimate costs, time and material labour required and match it to the available budget.
Developing documents that track costs: Developing documents pertaining to finance, budgets and contracts is a common duty of quantity surveyors. They may track purchases using receipts, or they might record recent orders to account for all used materials.
Managing projects: Quantity surveyors also manage projects to ensure they maintain their set budgets. They liaise with clients and contractors to identify their requirements. They may provide advice to clients, helping them choose the most cost-effective materials for a project.
Resolving discrepancies related to a company's finances: These professionals thoroughly analyse a company's finances to find any mistakes that might result in financial harm. They ensure that the clients get a reasonable bargain that is economical for them.
Travelling to job sites: Quantity surveyors often travel to construction sites to ensure that the work is progressing according to schedule and that raw materials are available. They also have to value completed works and oversee payments.
Reviewing an existing budget: They often review a company's existing budget to determine whether any changes may improve a company's finances. They may also reduce or increase funding to parts of a company when it is necessary and efficient to do so.
Identifying commercial risks: Quantity surveyors are responsible for weighing in the market fluctuations in costs and labour to identify any commercial risks in projects. Good analytical skills can help them to come up with innovative solutions to problems.
Related: 40 Common Surveyor Interview Questions (Plus Sample Answers)
How to become a quantity surveyor
Follow these steps to become a quantity surveyor:
1. Graduate higher secondary school
To become a quantity surveyor, you can first pass higher secondary school with science subjects. Once you have a basic knowledge of the relevant subject matter, you can apply for graduate programmes related to quantity survey. You may have to clear entrance exams to get admission into many colleges.
2. Obtain a bachelor's degree
Most employers require prospective quantity surveyors to obtain a bachelor's degree in quantity surveying, engineering, finance or management. While completing your bachelor's degree, consider taking courses that are relevant and helpful for quantity surveying, such as BTech (Bachelor of Technology), BArch ( Bachelor of Architecture) or BPlan (Bachelor of Planning). Candidates from a non-engineering background can also become a quantity surveyor after a few years of work experience in a reputed construction company.
3. Gain work experience
Once you graduate from college, you might qualify for quantity surveyor internships, apprenticeships or entry-level jobs. Here are some details of each:
Apprenticeships: are ideal for individuals who wish to observe other quantity surveyors while they work and receive formal training. Apprenticeships teach you the necessary skills and techniques that help quantity surveyors complete their tasks efficiently.
Internships: are suitable for individuals seeking to develop surveying skills while still having general supervision, and they offer insight into the routine of quantity surveyors. Internships are often temporary positions that may advance to full-time positions upon completion.
Entry-level jobs: are helpful for someone who wants minimal supervision and independent work. Entry-level jobs typically allow more freedom than internships and apprenticeships, since an employer may expect you to already possess basic knowledge of construction and surveying.
Each position offers benefits and allows you to gain experience. Gaining experience can lead to career advancement, such as becoming a senior quantity surveyor, and allow you to develop your surveying skills.
Related: Guide: How To List an Internship on a Resume
4. Get certified
After graduation you can enrol for the RICS APC (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Assessment of Professional Competence) course to pass the test and become a chartered member of the RICS. You may also consider pursuing a certification from the IIQS (Indian Institute of Quantity Surveyors). To a potential employer, these certifications will be a verifiable proof of your skills and expertise in the workplace.
5. Consider a master's degree
Although not mandatory, you can pursue a postgraduate degree in quantity surveying to further improve your job prospects. You can consider an MBA in construction economics and quantity surveying or a postgraduate diploma offered by a variety of universities. A popular postgraduate programme is quantity surveying and contract management from NICMAR (National Institute of Construction Management and Research), Hyderabad.
Related: How To Share Your Education Background
Is quantity surveyor a good job?
Quantity surveying is a highly sought after job with good work-life balance and attractive earning potential. There is also ample scope for advancement and specialisation in this field. You may start your career from posts like assistant quantity surveyor, assistant cost manager or assistant manager and go up to assistant vice president, assistant director or general manager. Since there is a boom in the infrastructure and construction sectors due to rapid urbanisation in the country, the number of jobs in this sector are also expected to increase.
How much do quantity surveyors make?
Construction sites often require different types of surveyors to work within specified areas of estimation and costing. The average salary for quantity surveyors may vary depending on their experience, education, employer and location. The average base salary of a quantity surveyor is ₹3,26,407 per year.
Career advancement opportunities for quantity surveyors
In addition to the role of a quantity surveyor, you may also consider the following professions:
Loss control surveyor
They inspect construction sites to assess various risk factors related to the company's finances. They try to analyse any potential damage to property due to weather or other construction issues. People interested in quantity surveys can also perform as loss control surveyors, as there are many similarities between the two roles. Both jobs handle the cost of construction materials and evaluate construction sites. Both roles also attempt to eliminate financial risks that could cause major monetary losses.
Construction managers are professionals responsible for building and supervising projects related to residential, commercial and public infrastructure. They manage projects from inception to completion, overseeing all responsibilities of a construction team. They supervise construction activities on-site and off-site to ensure compliance with safety laws and regulations.
Project managers plan and execute various projects for a company. They ensure that projects meet deadlines and adhere to fixed budgets. They may handle both short-term projects like content creation or presentation and long-term projects like a marketing campaign.
Related: 19 Essential Project Management Skills To Master
Senior estimators evaluate risks for a construction project by examining blueprints and consulting with clients. They often lead a team of surveyors to develop cost-cutting strategies, like bulk ordering materials and scheduling parallel construction tasks. They help a construction company meet its financial goals systematically.
Related: 4 Estimation Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
IT project manager
An IT project manager is a technology professional responsible for developing and maintaining projects related to technology, including handling a budget, scheduling tasks for team members and planning deadlines. They are responsible for communicating relevant information to the team, assigning responsibilities and setting goals. IT project managers also develop software, repair components and help create user-friendly programs and applications.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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