10 things you need to know about quantity surveying

Quantity Surveyors are engaged to control the finances and contractual administration of Construction projects

Quantity Surveyors are engaged to control the finances and contractual administration of Construction projects

Adding a quantity surveyor to Dermot Bannon’s Room to Improve on RTÉ brought the career into the public eye, but it’s not just TV that needs them

Ireland is currently experiencing its worst shortage in construction professionals in over a decade according to recent research carried out by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) and the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI), who cite the root cause as a lack of enrolment on to third level courses in professions in the Built Environment such as Quantity Surveying, Construction Management, Building Services and Civil Engineering.

However with the property market continuing to grow the same research highlights the fantastic opportunities that exist as a construction professional for students who have an interest in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) courses to go on and have very rewarding careers in the Built Environment.

With this in mind we have put together ten reasons why a career in Quantity Surveying could be for you:

1) Quantity Surveyors don’t just exist to make Dermot Bannon’s life a misery

Quantity Surveyors make a huge contribution to the success of projects from one off houses right up to multi billion euro capital projects the world over, their keen understanding of contract and project cost, right from the very initial sketch design proposal, ensures that Clients get the best possible end product for their budget (which sometimes means pointing out where there is 'room to improve' the efficiency of the Architects design).

2) It’s a profession of two halves

Quantity surveyors can choose to specialise and work exclusively for clients or for contractors meaning those who aspire to a career with a good balance of office based work and / or construction site based work can avail of the best of both worlds. In either career path every day brings a new challenge and the job satisfaction that goes with being involved in a project right from its inception through to a happy client taking the building over on completion.

3) It pays well

The Quantity Surveying profession affords graduates a career salary well above the average industrial wage (see average national wage for a Chartered Surveyor published by the SCSI) and comes with commensurate perks which vary depending on the employer but can include company cars, group pension schemes, performance based incentives etc.

4) You can travel almost anywhere in the developed world

The profession of Quantity Surveying is internationally recognised and is in demand the world over. Many of the larger consultancies and contractors you could find yourself working for in Ireland have offices in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas where it’s not uncommon for staff to transfer and make the most of the perks and life experience that come with travel (you can of course just join companies in these countries directly too). It commands a healthy salary comparative to the cost of living in every one of these countries allowing graduates to maintain the standard of living they might have become accustomed to in Ireland before leaving. This ability to travel also ensures that there is always work for these construction professionals irrespective of the cycle of the economy in Ireland.

5) It’s a great career for both men and women

Quantity Surveyors like Patricia Power of Room to Improve have done much to highlight how attractive a career in this profession can be not just to men (as is typically assumed for a career in construction) but to women too. Quantity Surveyors are professionals first and foremost and, particularly for those who work on the client side, bears much resemblance to the office based 9 - 5 career you might expect in other disciplines such as finance and business but with the added perk of working on physical projects with lasting and profound effect on the landscape of the country.

6) It offers great opportunities for career progression

The organisation model employed by both contractors and consultants in Ireland provide a defined career path for every quantity surveyor affording those who wish to pursue it a route right from graduate level all the way to the board of directors of each of these companies. On the client side becoming an Associate or Director in a PQS office is a quite realistic ambition for graduates if they apply themselves to it, likewise with the contracting side albeit the positions to fill at managerial level are typically fewer between in these organisations.

7) You get to constantly explain what you do for a living

There is still an air of mystery about what exactly a Quantity Surveyor does, some people think they stand on the roadside with those levels on tripods setting out the route for roadworks, others think they count bricks for a living. The truth is Quantity Surveyors are engaged to control the finances and contractual administration of Construction projects. This places them at the heart of the Design Team as a highly valued and integral part to the success of any project (who doesnt care about cost!). Its a varied and interesting career.

8) You can become a Chartered Professional

Charterships aren’t unique to professions like Accountancy. Quantity Surveyors have their own highly valued professional accreditation. Courses in Quantity Surveying such as that offered by Waterford Institute of Technology provide graduates with access to the assessment of professional competence in the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. This organisation is seen as the acid test of professional practice and ability in Ireland and worldwide through its reciprocal membership of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in the UK (awarded a Royal Charter back in 1868).

9) It develops your people skills

A huge part of the profession is the ability to communicate, negotiate and deal with other people. Your colleagues in the design team/contracting team, your peers and your client will all rely on your expertise to deliver value for money and to mitigate the chances of dispute. These interpersonal skills are taught in courses like that on offer at WIT and developed further as your career progresses in professional practice and is an invaluable life skill.

10) There are lots of jobs

There were more than 300 vacancies for Quantity Surveyors listed in March 2017 on 'Indeed.com' alone. These positions vary from graduate surveyors right up to senior and managerial level positions (we'd invite you to research these offers for yourself on the leading recruitment websites for more insight on salary expectation and job perks).

Related Courses

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in  Quantity Surveying
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in  Engineering (Common Entry)

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