Introduction to Surveying
Surveying encompasses multiple sectors - from commercial property to construction, the environment and natural resources. Divided into 17 different fields, the three key surveying sectors are:
- Land. This includes the study of the environment, geomatics (the analysis of land and the sea bed), minerals and waste management, planning and development and rural surveying.
- Property. This includes roles in commercial property, residential property, facilities management, valuation, arts and antiques, dispute resolution, machinery and business assets and management consultancy.
- Construction. This includes working in building surveying, building control, project management, quantity surveying and construction.
What roles are open to me?
Given its global impact, there are a wide variety of surveying roles on offer. Common roles include:
- Building Control Manager
- Land Agent
- Commercial Valuations Agent
- Development Surveyor
- Residential Property Manager
- Property Consultant
- Quantity Surveyor
- Project Manager
- Property and Estates Manager
- Valuation Surveyor
- General Practice Surveyor
- Land Manager
- Estate Manager
- Building Surveyor
Many experienced professionals will later go on to become corporate partners or directors, set up their own consultancy or go freelance.
Major surveying companies include Acorus, AMEC, Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Bidwells, Civil Service, Cushman and Wakefield, Drivers Jonas Deloitte, Hyundai, Jones Lang LaSalle, Land Securities, Network Rail, Rising Star Recruitment Ltd, Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd, The National Trust, Torrance Partnership, Willmott Dixon and Youngs Chartered Surveyors.
What qualifications and skills do I need?
While careers in fields such as property sales and management do not require a specific degree, for some roles you will need a relevant degree or qualification accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Relevant disciplines vary depending on the field you’re interested in specialising in and include surveying, civil engineering, geomatics, graphical information science, construction, architecture, real estate management and building engineering. Employers also look favourably on degrees in geography, science, mathematics, languages and economics.
If you have a degree in a non-related discipline, you can choose to pursue a full-time RICS-accredited postgraduate course, or apply for a graduate traineeship and take a postgraduate qualification while working.
In addition to your degree, employers look for skills including logical reasoning, technical knowledge, commercial awareness, communication, negotiation and presentation skills. For many roles, relevant work experience or experience gained on a sandwich-year placement will also be an advantage.
Although many roles require a degree, it’s possible to enter the industry through a trainee role or apprenticeship and study for the required qualifications while working. If you have an HND (Higher National Diploma), you can also apply to become a surveying technician, which carries less responsibility, and then pursue further qualifications while working to progress your career.
As with graduates, employers will look for a range of skills outside of academic qualifications, including logical and technical reasoning and IT and communication skills. Work experience gained during school holidays and even construction work can also be an advantage.
Continued professional development is a vital part of a career as a surveyor and in almost all roles you will undertake on-the-job training to develop your skills and career prospects. Some companies will also support graduates who wish to work towards the RICS Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) - a work-based scheme that results in chartered status and RICS membership.
The application process varies depending on the role you are applying for, however it will generally follow some or all of the steps below:
The average salary depends on the role, company and location. In general, graduate roles range from £20,000 - £30,000 per year. Salaries increase as you gain experience and qualifications, with many senior roles commanding a salary of £60,000 - £100,000 or more. Entry-level roles for non-graduates will generally be a lot lower and you may find roles advertised at a by-the-hour pay rate. As with graduate roles, your salary will increase as you gain skills, qualifications and experience.
Are there any downsides?
Some roles, such as land or building surveyor positions, are less-office based than others, which means you may spend a significant amount of time on site. You may also be required to socialise with clients after hours, and may spend a lot of time travelling to different sites/locations across the country and internationally. Surveying work can also be stressful due to deadlines, budgets and the wider social, environmental and financial impact your decisions may have.
As it is such a broad field, it can also be hard to explain to friends, family and acquaintances what you actually do, which can be frustrating.
Is it right for me?
Professionally and financially rewarding, a career in surveying can be a diverse, engaging and exciting choice for new graduates. If you have solid technical, numerical and communication skills and are a natural planner and analyst, there’s likely to be a role that’s perfect for you. Visit our Surveying forum to find out more.