Is Quantity Surveying a Good Career? Insights & Outlook

Thinking about a career in quantity surveying might make you picture hard hats, blueprints, and calculators – and you wouldn’t be wrong. But is the reality of the profession as precise and structured as the buildings it helps create, or will you find yourself navigating through rough terrain?

In this blog post, we’ll lay out the blueprint of a career in quantity surveying, giving you the groundwork to decide if it’s the right fit for your professional aspirations.

Quick Takeaways:

  • A career in quantity surveying combines financial savvy with construction expertise, promising a dynamic work environment with both office and field experiences.
  • Demand for quantity surveyors is strong globally, offering job security and growth potential in a field where specialized skills like BIM can enhance long-term prospects.
  • With the opportunity for high earnings and pathway to senior roles or consultancy, quantity surveying presents a lucrative path with ample career development opportunities.

What Is Quantity Surveying All About?

If you’ve ever been captivated by the intricacies of construction and the financial aspects that fuel development projects, then you’ve flirted with the world of quantity surveying (QS). The role of a quantity surveyor is like the Swiss Army knife of the building industry: multifaceted, indispensable, and precise. At its core, QS is about crunching numbers, but it’s not just about cold, hard cash. It’s about ensuring a project stays on budget and meets legal and quality standards.

Picture a quantity surveyor as the financial whiz kid of a construction team, tasked with managing costs from the get-go. They’re involved in everything from initial estimates to final figures, weighing every material, smidgen of labor, and potential risk on the balance scale. Their work is pivotal in avoiding any nasty budgetary surprises down the line.

But it’s not all about digits and decimals. A quantity surveyor also brings a blend of soft skills to the table. They’re negotiators, mediators, and communicators, bridging the worlds of finance and construction with aplomb. A good QS is as comfortable on a building site as they are in a boardroom, juggling the demands of clients, architects, and contractors. If managing a financial tightrope while ensuring the structural integrity of a skyscraper sounds like your kind of challenge, quantity surveying could be just the ticket.

Is There a Demand for Quantity Surveyors?

You bet there is. Quantity surveyors are like gold dust in the construction industry, and the demand for these financial gurus is solid and growing. As long as buildings rise, roads extend, and infrastructures expand, a quantity surveyor’s expertise will be in hot demand.

The construction industry is a barometer for the global economy, and it’s humming with activity. Statistics and projections point toward steady growth, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicating a bright outlook for cost estimators, a category that includes quantity surveyors. In specific regions where development is booming, like in parts of Asia and the Middle East, quantity surveyors are more sought-after than ever.

Just take a look at Australia, for example, where the infrastructure plan is so colossal, QS professionals might as well have their own fan clubs. It’s similar in Canada, where an influx of green building initiatives is keeping QS pros on their toes.

The upshot? If you’re angling for a career with security and prospects, becoming a quantity surveyor could be a smart move.

How Do You Become a Quantity Surveyor?

Becoming a quantity surveyor doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s an adventure in education and experience worth embarking on. At the foundation, you’ll need a relevant education. Most QS professionals hold a degree, with programs specifically in quantity surveying or construction management being particularly valuable. Universities and colleges across the globe offer these courses, from the dust-kicking campuses of Texas to the historic halls of the UK’s chartered institutes.

After your degree, you’ll often need additional certification to put that knowledge into practice, often provided by professional bodies such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

However, a piece of paper won’t turn you into a quantity surveyor—you’ll need real-world experience. Start by looking for internships or entry-level roles that can provide hands-on experience. You’ll need to be well-versed in various industry-standard software and possess a core understanding of construction methods and materials.

And here’s a nugget of advice most folks overlook: don’t just clock hours; build relationships. Networking within the industry can open doors to opportunities and provide insights that no classroom can offer.

A career in quantity surveying is a process—an exciting journey of continual learning. And while these first steps are vital, they’re just the start of what can be a rewarding and dynamic career. Just remember, this is not the end of the road for our chat about quantity surveying—there’s more to dig into. Stay tuned for additional insights on building your career in this fascinating field.

What Does a Day in the Life of a Quantity Surveyor Look Like?

Let’s pull back the curtain and peek into the daily grind of a quantity surveyor. Now, buckle up – it’s not all about numbers and calculators; there’s quite a bit of field action, too.

A quantity surveyor’s day typically kicks off with a hot cuppa joe and checking emails – oh, the joys of communication! Then, it’s down to business. Reviewing project drawings and specifications is usually first on the list, ensuring that everything aligns with the client’s vision and the budget isn’t heading for the stratosphere.

Next up, it’s often out of the office and onto the site. On-site visits are no walk in the park. QS professionals need to keep their eagle eyes peeled for any construction snags that can affect the purse strings. They’re the go-to person for cost advice, after all.

After dusting off their boots, it’s back to the office for some number crunching. They’ll be prepping cost estimates, arranging contracts, and planning future finances. And let’s not forget the meetings – architects, contractors, clients, you name it, they all need time with our QS hero.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Challenges like unexpected project delays or budget overruns can throw a wrench in the works. Yet, overcoming these hiccups can be quite the victory, and that’s where the true rewards lie – in outmaneuvering the chaos to deliver a project on time and on budget.

How Much Can You Earn as a Quantity Surveyor?

Talking turkey, the pay for a quantity surveyor can swing like a pendulum, depending on several factors. You’re looking at a starting salary that hovers around the $50k to $60k mark if you’re just dipping your toes in the water.

As you climb the experience ladder, say after about five years, your paycheck can start to look pretty rosy, perhaps hitting the $70k to $90k range. And don’t get me started if you reach the senior level – we’re talking about cracking the six-figure ceiling!

Location is another biggie. Plant your roots in a city with a booming construction scene, and you might just find money growing on trees. Think high-demand areas like New York or San Francisco, where QS professionals can command a premium.

Education and credentials are your golden tickets to cashing in. A degree is good, sure, but earning a certification from a recognized body like the American Institute of Constructors or the Construction Management Association of America can crank up your earning potential to eleven.

Now here’s a nugget you won’t find just anywhere. Did you know that specializing in a niche like green construction can also line your pockets? With sustainability getting all the spotlight, this expertise can be quite the cash cow.

What Are the Long-Term Career Prospects in Quantity Surveying?

Picture your career as a skyscraper – starting with the foundation, which is getting your foot in the quantity surveying door, then rising floor by floor.

As for climbing the career ladder, there’s ample room to grow. From a junior QS, you might find yourself as a senior surveyor, a commercial manager, or even setting sights on a directorial role. And if you’ve got the moxie, starting your own consultancy could be the penthouse of your career skyscraper.

Now, let’s talk tech. Tools like Building Information Modelling (BIM) are revolutionizing how quantity surveyors work. Stay savvy with these changes, and you’ll be as future-proof as they come.

But here’s the real deal, the ace up your sleeve – building relationships. It’s not just what you know; it’s who you know. Networking isn’t just about slapping on a smile at industry shindigs; it’s about weaving a web of contacts that can bring in new opportunities and offer support when the going gets tough.

Finally, don’t get comfy – keep learning. Whether it’s taking a course on the latest construction laws or brushing up on some high-tech surveying software, keep your skills sharp and your knowledge fresh.

Remember, quantity surveying isn’t just a job – it’s a journey. And for those who play their cards right, it’s peppered with prospects that can lead to a fulfilling and lucrative career. Stay curious, stay hungry, and who knows where you’ll end up!

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!