How to become a quantity surveyor may seem like a daunting question to ask but read through this blog and it should give a good understanding of the routes you can take to achieve this goal. The first thing you need to do is review our blog about what a quantity is and the roles of a qs.
Once you understand the roles and duties then you can look at your life, personality, specific goals, and possibly where you want to be in the world. All these factors will help you to determine how you will become a quantity surveyor with the guidelines set out below.
You need to review if the job will provide you with the salary expectations to lead the lifestyle you like, the work hours and conditions that you will face if you become a quantity surveyor. Also, it is important to know the types of people you be involved in your day to day life at work and make sure you are comfortable with that.
Being a quantity surveyor might seem like an easy job, but in fact, there’s a lot more to it than most people imagine. It is, therefore, advisable to make sure you know what the job entails before you take the plunge.
It is a bit like being an accountant, a lawyer, and a financial advisor all at the same time. You must manage your client’s money during the construction (accountant), advice on commercial contracts (lawyer), and ensure that construction work is carried out in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible in order to maximize value or profit.
The size of the company you work for will determine how much of each of those three disciplines you will be exposed to. For example, in a large contracting company, they may already have a lawyer who will prepare and negotiate contracts with clients, but for a smaller business with fewer resources, you may be required to wear all three hats at once.
Below is my guide to the route you can take. We go in-depth to show you the advantages and disadvantages of each route with some approximate ages for starting. The outcomes that can be achieved from each route are also outlined to explain at the end of each route what you will likely end up with.
Full-time study route
Duration: 3 – 4 years of full-time study (one year of placement).
Age: 18 – 25-year-olds approximately.
- Fastest time to become qualified.
- In holiday times you could secure placement to put your skills into practice and possibly earn some money.
- More time to complete coursework and study.
- Generally, not much time to work during term times due to the study loads and requirements so financially it can be difficult.
- Courses can leave a student with a lot of debt at the end which will need to be paid back once you start working.
- Usually, not much experience or practical skills gained during the course and employers would have to train you how actually work on the job.
Doing a full-time course will mean you will be qualified faster. The workload of exams and coursework can be intense however you should have more time to complete the work in your free time. At the end of the course, you will have a good textbook idea of being a quantity surveyor but not much practical experience to use.
Some full-time course requires you to complete a year of work experience usually in your third year. This allows the student to gain insights on applying for jobs, interviews and what the day to day life of a quantity surveyor would be if they were successful.
The years’ work experience allows them time to apply what they have learned in university as well as learn on the job from experienced quantity surveyors. This really does benefit the students going into the final year as they will have some practical experience of applying their learning.
Many times, the work experience can lead to employment after or even during the final year. Getting your foot in the door is sometimes the biggest hurdle so working hard and impressing your employers is essential to help you stay on board with them.
Part-time study route – day release or distance learning
Duration: 4 – 6 years of part-time study usually based on one day in university with a study completed at home.
Location: University, college, and home study.
Age: 25 – 35-year-olds approximately.
- Gaining valuable on the job experience.
- Getting paid for your work.
- A mix of four days working and a day off to visit college/university.
- Employers may pay for the college course but maybe not your time to attend. This would mean less or no debt to pay back once you start working.
- Completing coursework and study after finishing work and the weekends can be hard especially if you have other commitments.
- Duration to complete the course is stretched out over a longer period of time.
A longer time to complete the qualifications, but to offset that you will have more years of experience than someone who has chosen to do the course full time. This is truly valuable to any employer.
Having your employer pay for the course obviously brings another benefit of less or no debt at the completion of the course.
On the job experience route – No qualifications
Duration: A lifetime.
Location: Anywhere you choose.
Age: 35+-year-olds approximately.
- Fallen into the position after years of experience maybe as a trade’s person or decided to have a construction career change.
- A good practical idea of how quantity surveying is applied to that trade or construction in general.
- Upskilling and learning new things.
- No formal qualifications achieved
Generally, this approach is for people who have been in construction for a long time as maybe a trade’s person or another type of construction professional such as an engineer. These experienced people would have a very good idea of the way the industry works and probably a good idea of quantity surveying.
From my experience of part-time and full-time study, I feel the best way to becoming a top quantity surveyor faster with the right skills and knowledge is to go down the part-time route.
Let us look at another trade to compare. How good would a carpenter be if they learned how to work from a text with little to no practical experience on the job…. They wouldn’t be able to do much on-site once they completed their qualifications.
An employer would need to retrain and show them how things got done on-site so let’s face it, a textbook can only teach you so much being practical is 75% of the battle in construction.
I hope you gained some insight and this article helped you maybe decide on how to become a quantity surveyor. Best of luck with your potential career and leave a comment with some feedback!