Chartered Surveyor

The Job and What's Involved

Surveying is a wide-ranging profession covering a large number of different areas such as construction projects, houses, land, minerals, the seabed and antiques.

Chartered surveying is not a single career, but a group of careers with certain skills in common, and, as a result, chartered surveyors work in many different fields. For example:

Building surveyors advise on the design and construction of new buildings and the repair and renovation of existing buildings. They are also involved in maintenance, improvement and upgrading of buildings and assessing health and safety requirements.

Construction surveyors oversee construction projects, from dams to new houses.

Residential property surveyors advise on the purchase, sale and development of houses and apartments.

Quantity surveyors assess and manage all the costs related to building projects. This involves making sure that the costs of a project are controlled, and that the required standards and quality are achieved at the right value.

Environmental surveyors ensure design and construction specifications minimise the impact of structures on the environment. They also assess and monitor the effects of existing buildings and look for possible improvements in energy efficiency.

Technical surveyors advise on the best use of an organisation's equipment, such as industrial plant and machinery.

Rural property surveyors are experts on environmental management, real estate, auctioning, valuing property and equipment (farm assets and livestock), and lease reviews.

Land or geomatics surveyors assess and report on land due for redevelopment.

Commercial property surveyors advise on the purchase, sale and development of commercial property such as offices, shops and industrial units.

Planning and development surveyors advise, investigate, plan and manage proposals to build either new developments or organise the refurbishment of existing buildings.

Minerals and mining surveyors provide valuation services related to developing mineral resources, waste management sites, mines and quarries. They also give advice on developing and managing mineral sites safely and within the regulations.

The skills of a chartered surveyor can be applied to other areas of work, including:

  • Arts and antiques.
  • Dispute resolution (this may include advising over rent reviews, boundary disputes and building contracts).
  • Management consultancy.

Surveyors measure, log and interpret data, drawing up or referring to charts, maps and diagrams. As well as computers, they use a range of technical equipment. Most jobs involve negotiation, bargaining, giving advice and explaining ideas.

Chartered surveyors usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, but additional hours may sometimes be needed to meet deadlines. There are opportunities for part-time work.

Surveyors work in offices and on site. They also spend time visiting clients. The work environment varies according to the type of role, but surveying often involves outdoor work, in all weathers. Surveyors may need to climb ladders and scaffolding. On site they wear safety equipment such as hard hats and boots.

The work may involve time away from home to visit sites, both in the UK and overseas.

A driving licence is highly useful.

Starting salaries for graduates may be between £15,000 and £22,000 a year. Most surveyors receive additional benefits as part of their salary package. These may include performance-related bonuses and a company car.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Surveyors are employed throughout the UK, but there are more jobs in large cities, particularly London.

In the private sector, employers include surveying practices, property companies, consultancies, construction companies, national and regional chains of estate agents, housing associations and large organisations that own land (such as retailers, utility companies and financial institutions). In the public sector, employers include local authorities, government departments, hospital trusts and universities.

There is considerable competition for graduate jobs with leading surveying firms. However, in certain branches of surveying there are shortages of qualified and experienced people.

Jobs are advertised in Chartered Surveyor Monthly, The Surveyor, Building, Property Week, Estates Gazette and at, the official recruitment website of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Education and Training

RICS is the main professional institution, and membership is essential to become a chartered surveyor. To become a member of RICS, surveyors usually need to take a degree or postgraduate conversion course accredited by RICS.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

For a RICS-accredited degree course, the qualifications needed are generally three A levels/four H grades or a relevant BTEC/SQA national award, plus at least five GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent. Check specific requirements with individual institutions. Useful A level/H grade subjects include English, geography, maths, the physical sciences, geology, economics, law, IT, art, business studies, languages and design and technology.

Candidates without the academic qualifications for degree courses may be able to take HNC/HND courses or Foundation degrees. These can be 'topped up' with further study for RICS-accredited degrees.

The Chartered Surveyors Training Trust offers work-based training for young people aged 16 to 24. Applicants must have at least four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) or equivalent qualifications.

Applicants can also take a first degree not accredited by RICS followed by an accredited postgraduate conversion course. Useful first degree subjects include geography, mathematics, economics and physical sciences.

First degrees and postgraduate conversion courses accredited by RICS are available through full-time or part-time study, and by distance learning. It is possible, therefore, to study for the relevant qualifications at the same time as gaining practical experience with an employer.

After completing a RICS-accredited course, surveyors need to gain further practical experience before becoming fully qualified. This involves at least two years of structured learning whilst in employment, leading to a RICS professional assessment interview, known as the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). Upon successful completion of the APC, surveyors can use the letters MRICS after their name.

In addition to RICS, other bodies awarding relevant qualifications include The Association of Building Engineers (ABE), the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV), the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Some surveyors are members of more than one institution.

RICS members are required to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of sixty hours every three years. This is usually split into twenty hours each year and can be done online. Surveyors are increasingly encouraged to develop business and management skills.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A chartered surveyor needs:

  • A practical approach to problem-solving.
  • Excellent negotiating skills.
  • To be methodical and pay attention to detail.
  • To work well with people at all levels.
  • Computer skills.
  • A logical mind.
  • Spoken and written communication skills.
  • Good management skills.
  • The ability to co-ordinate a number of different projects at the same time.

Your Long Term Prospects

Most large organisations have a formal promotion structure, and surveyors may progress to senior management. In small organisations, it may be necessary to move to another employer for promotion or to gain wider experience.

Self-employment is quite common for surveyors. It is possible to work from home or to join a private practice as a partner.

There are good opportunities to work abroad.

Get Further Information

Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB),
Englemere, Kings Ride, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7TB
Tel:01344 630700

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH),
Octavia House, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JP
Tel: 024 7685 1700

Chartered Surveyors Training Trust,
Downstream Building, 1 London Bridge, London, SE1 9BG
Tel: 020 785 3850

CITB-ConstructionSkills, Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577

Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV),
41 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LF
Tel: 020 7831 3505

Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES),
Dominion House, Sibson Road, Sale, Cheshire M33 7PP
Tel: 0161 972 3100

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS),
RICS Contact Centre, Surveyor Court, Westwood Way, Coventry CV4 8JE
Tel:0870 333 1600 (calls charged at national rate)

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI),
41 Botolph Lane, London EC3R 8DL
Tel:020 7929 9494

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