Career Guides
Quantity Surveyor

The Complete Guide to a Career as a Quantity Surveyor

As you begin your career, you may find yourself drawn to the construction industry but unsure of the many roles available. One option to consider is becoming a quantity surveyor. With the right education and skills, you can gain employment as a quantity surveyor to manage the costs and contracts on construction projects. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn all about the quantity surveyor career path including the job responsibilities, required qualifications, average salary and job outlook. Read on to determine if a profession as a quantity surveyor is right for you and how to pursue this career.

What Is a Quantity Surveyor?

Job Description

A quantity surveyor is a construction professional who manages all costs relating to building and civil engineering projects. Their primary role is to estimate and monitor costs from the initial planning stage through to completion of a project. Quantity surveyors analyze costs of labor, materials, and time to prepare cost estimates and ensure projects are completed within budget.

Key Responsibilities

The main duties of a quantity surveyor include:

  • Estimating costs for construction projects including materials, equipment and labor
  • Preparing bills of quantities for contractors to price during the tender process
  • Negotiating and managing contracts between clients and contractors
  • Monitoring costs during construction to ensure the project remains within budget
  • Advising on tax depreciation schedules and life cycle costing of buildings
  • Resolving disputes between contractors and clients regarding costs


To become a quantity surveyor, you typically need a bachelor's degree in quantity surveying, construction economics, or a related field. Relevant work experience, on-the-job training, and professional certifications are also common requirements. Essential skills for the role include:

  • Strong analytical and numerical skills
  • Excellent communication and negotiation abilities
  • Proficiency with spreadsheets, cost databases, and specialist quantity surveying software
  • Knowledge of building and construction methods, legal issues, and health and safety standards

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for quantity surveyors is positive. Employment is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Experienced quantity surveyors can earn an average salary of $92,000 per year. For those looking to advance their career, additional certifications and job opportunities as a chartered surveyor may be available.

Key Responsibilities and Daily Tasks of a Quantity Surveyor

Prepare cost estimates and budgets

As a quantity surveyor, one of your primary responsibilities is preparing detailed cost estimates and budgets for construction projects. You will analyze costs of materials, labor, and equipment to determine realistic budgets that allow projects to be completed on schedule and within budget.

Monitor project costs

Once a project is underway, you will continually monitor costs to ensure the project remains within budget. You will track actual costs versus estimates, analyze any variances, and recommend corrective actions if costs start to overrun the budget. Tight cost control is essential to the profitability and success of any construction project.

Prepare bills of quantities

You will prepare bills of quantities to provide a full breakdown of the materials, equipment, and labor required for a project. These bills of quantities are used by contractors to prepare accurate bids for projects. As a quantity surveyor, you must ensure the bills of quantities are complete, accurate, and up-to-date.

Provide contractual advice

Quantity surveyors provide advice on contractual and procurement issues. You will help determine the best contracts and procurement procedures for projects to protect your client's interests while also being fair to contractors. You may also provide guidance on contractual claims and disputes to avoid or resolve conflicts.

Continually expand your knowledge

The field of quantity surveying is continually evolving with new standards, contracts, technologies and cost estimation techniques. To be an effective quantity surveyor, you must stay up-to-date with the latest developments through ongoing learning and professional development. Membership in professional organizations and completing continuing education courses are excellent ways to expand your knowledge and skills.

With a diverse and challenging set of responsibilities, the role of a quantity surveyor is essential to the success of construction projects. If you have strong analytical, communication and cost management skills, this can be a rewarding career path in the construction industry.

Skills and Qualifications Needed to Become a Quantity Surveyor

To become a quantity surveyor, you will need a combination of education, practical experience, and technical skills. Typically, quantity surveyors have a degree in quantity surveying, construction management, or a related field. Coursework usually includes classes in mathematics, accounting, contract law, and building design.

Strong analytical and mathematical abilities

Quantity surveyors work with complex budgets, costs, and specifications. You will need to analyze costs for materials, labor, and time required for construction projects. Strong skills in mathematics, budgeting, and accounting are essential.

Knowledge of building design and construction

You must have a solid understanding of building materials, construction techniques, and architectural drawings. Quantity surveyors estimate costs based on the materials and labor required for a project. Familiarity with building information modeling (BIM) software is increasingly important.

Excellent communication skills

Quantity surveyors work with a range of professionals including architects, engineers, contractors, and clients. You must be able to explain cost estimates, negotiate contracts, and resolve any issues that arise. Strong written and verbal communication skills are critical.

Critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Construction projects often face unexpected challenges that can impact schedules and budgets. As a quantity surveyor, you must think critically to develop solutions to issues like cost overruns, material shortages, or delays. Flexibility, creativity, and the ability to make quick, well-reasoned decisions under pressure are important.

Time-management and organizational skills

Quantity surveyors juggle many responsibilities and tight deadlines. You must be highly organized and able to prioritize important tasks. Effective time-management skills are essential to completing cost estimates, reports, and other deliverables on schedule.

With the right education and experience, quantity surveyors can have a rewarding career helping to ensure the financial success of construction projects. Developing a diverse range of technical and soft skills will prepare you well for this role.

Quantity Surveyor Salary and Benefits

As a quantity surveyor, you can expect a competitive salary and benefits package. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for quantity surveyors in the US is $66,000 per year. Actual salaries may be higher or lower depending on factors like:

Experience and Qualifications

Quantity surveyors with a bachelor’s degree and professional certifications like the Professional Quantity Surveyor (PQS) credential can command higher pay. Those with 5-10 years of experience typically earn $75,000 to $95,000. Senior quantity surveyors with over 20 years of experience can make $100,000 or more.

Job Responsibilities

Quantity surveyors in leadership roles like chief quantity surveyor or commercial manager, with responsibility for managing teams and overseeing projects, are typically paid more. Those in high-demand specialties like dispute resolution or insurance evaluation may also earn higher pay.


Salaries tend to be higher in large cities and metropolitan areas where the cost of living and demand for construction services are greater. Quantity surveyors in New York or San Francisco, for example, can make over $90,000. Those working for large, prestigious firms may also earn higher pay than those at small local firms.

In addition to salary, many quantity surveyors receive benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and professional development opportunities. Some firms may also offer bonuses and profit-sharing plans for high performers.

Overall, the job outlook for quantity surveyors is positive. As infrastructure and building projects increase in both the public and private sector, the demand for quantity surveyors and construction estimators is expected to grow. With the right experience and qualifications, quantity surveyors can find job security and career advancement in this essential role. Competitive pay and benefits make this an attractive field for those interested in a career in construction and project management.

How to Become a Quantity Surveyor: Education and Training Required

To become a quantity surveyor, you will need a combination of education and on-the-job experience. Typically, quantity surveyors hold a bachelor’s degree in quantity surveying, construction management, or a related field like civil engineering. Coursework usually includes classes in mathematics, statistics, construction materials, and building design.

Gain Practical Experience

After earning a degree, most quantity surveyors complete a formal work experience program to become chartered. Chartered quantity surveyors are highly sought after, as they have demonstrated a high level of competence and professionalism. Chartered status is offered through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). To become chartered, you need to have a degree, complete relevant work experience, and pass an assessment.

Consider Optional Certification

While not always required, certification can demonstrate your knowledge and skills to employers. The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) offers certification for quantity surveyors. To earn the Chartered Quantity Surveyor designation, you need a degree, work experience, and to pass an exam. Maintaining certification requires continuous professional development to stay up-to-date with best practices.

Keep Your Knowledge Current

The construction industry is constantly changing, so quantity surveyors need to engage in ongoing learning. Take regular courses or pursue an advanced degree in a specialty like construction law or project management. Stay up-to-date with new building codes, cost estimating software, and project management techniques. Membership in professional organizations like RICS or CIOB also provides opportunities for continuing education and networking.

In summary, becoming a quantity surveyor requires earning a bachelor’s degree, gaining relevant work experience, and continually expanding your knowledge and skills over your career. While challenging, quantity surveying can be a rewarding profession for those interested in the business and management aspects of the construction industry. With the proper education and dedication, you can establish a successful career as a chartered quantity surveyor.

Finding Quantity Surveyor Jobs and Getting Hired

Job Boards and Websites

There are several resources you can use to find quantity surveyor jobs. Major job websites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor regularly list openings for quantity surveyors. You can also check industry-specific sites like the Chartered Institute of Building or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. These sites allow you to filter results by job type, location, experience level, and more.


Networking is one of the most effective ways to find new job leads. Connect with other professionals in the construction industry, join relevant LinkedIn groups, and attend industry events. Let people know you are on the job market and provide them with copies of your resume. Someone in your network may know of an opening or be able to connect you with a hiring manager.

Applying for Positions

Once you find a suitable job opening, submit a tailored cover letter, your resume, and any other requested materials. In the cover letter, highlight relevant construction experience, technical and soft skills, and your enthusiasm for the work of a quantity surveyor. Be prepared for a multi-round interview process, which may include phone screens, video interviews, and in-person meetings. Come ready to discuss your relevant experience, career goals, and enthusiasm for the organization and role.

Salary and Job Negotiation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for quantity surveyors in the United States is around $67,000 per year. Actual salaries may be higher or lower depending on factors like location, experience, education, and job responsibilities. When negotiating your salary and job offer, focus on your relevant qualifications, skills, and experience. Provide a reasonable salary range based on industry standards and averages. Be willing to compromise to reach an agreement that satisfies both you and the employer.

With the right experience, skills, and perseverance, you can find a rewarding career as a quantity surveyor. Searching job boards, networking, and applying to openings are all key steps to landing your first role. Once you have an offer, negotiate confidently based on your experience and the typical compensation for the position. If you continue honing your skills and gaining experience, you can advance your career as a quantity surveyor over the years.

Career Advancement Opportunities for Quantity Surveyors

As a quantity surveyor, you have several options for career progression. With experience, you can take on more senior roles with greater responsibility and higher pay.

Senior Quantity Surveyor

In this role, you will lead teams of quantity surveyors and take charge of the commercial and financial management of large, complex projects. Senior quantity surveyors earn average salaries of $130,000 to $170,000 per year. To become a senior quantity surveyor, you typically need at least five to eight years of experience as a quantity surveyor.

Quantity Surveyor Manager

As a manager, you will oversee multiple teams of quantity surveyors and senior quantity surveyors. Quantity surveyor managers play a key leadership role, developing commercial strategies and ensuring the financial viability of projects. Salaries average $150,000 to $220,000 per year. Typically, at least eight to 12 years of experience as a quantity surveyor is required to become a manager.

Director of Quantity Surveying

In this senior leadership role, you will be responsible for the strategic direction and success of the quantity surveying function within an organization. Directors of quantity surveying earn $180,000 per year or more. Extensive experience, often 15 years or more as a quantity surveyor, along with a master’s degree is typically needed for this position.

Independent Consultancy

For experienced quantity surveyors, opening your own consultancy firm is an opportunity to gain more autonomy and potentially higher pay. As an independent consultant, you can earn between $150 to $250 per hour, depending on your level of experience. At least 10 to 15 years of experience as a quantity surveyor is recommended before becoming an independent consultant.

In summary, with ongoing career development, quantity surveyors can progress to higher-level roles with greater responsibility and compensation. Gaining professional certifications, mentorship opportunities, and a master’s degree in quantity surveying or a related field will help open up more career advancement pathways.

The Future Outlook for Quantity Surveyor Jobs

The job market for quantity surveyors is quite promising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of quantity surveyors is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. As construction projects become more complex, the demand for quantity surveyors to help manage costs and maximize efficiency is expected to increase.

Quantity surveyors play an integral role in the construction process, so their jobs are typically stable even during economic downturns. However, some factors like changes in government funding for infrastructure and construction projects can impact demand. When there are more construction projects available, job opportunities for quantity surveyors rise. During periods of decreased funding and fewer projects, job growth may decline slightly.

Technological advancements are also changing how quantity surveyors do their jobs. Software like building information modeling (BIM) and cost estimation programs help quantity surveyors work more efficiently. Familiarity with this technology may provide jobseekers with a competitive advantage. Quantity surveyors who specialize in green building and sustainability are also in particularly high demand.

The median pay for quantity surveyors in the U.S. is over $80,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experienced quantity surveyors, especially those with professional certifications, can earn $100,000 or more annually. The job outlook is best for quantity surveyors with a bachelor’s degree in quantity surveying, construction management, or a related field. Relevant work experience, strong analytical and communication skills, and optional certifications can also enhance job prospects.

In summary, the future looks bright for quantity surveyors. With steady job growth, good pay, and opportunities for career advancement, quantity surveying can be a very rewarding profession for those interested in the construction industry. By staying up-to-date with technology, trends, and certifications in the field, quantity surveyors can help build the infrastructure of tomorrow.

FAQs About Being a Quantity Surveyor

As a quantity surveyor, you will likely encounter common questions from others about your role and career. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers:

A quantity surveyor is a construction industry professional who helps determine project costs. Quantity surveyors are involved in the early planning and design stages of construction projects. They estimate costs and put together bills of quantities to determine how much a project may cost.

What qualifications do I need to become a quantity surveyor?

To become a quantity surveyor, you typically need a degree in quantity surveying, construction management, or a related field. Some quantity surveyors get started with an apprenticeship. Professional certification, such as becoming a chartered surveyor, can help advance your career.

What does a quantity surveyor do?

The main duties of a quantity surveyor include:

•Estimating construction costs and creating bills of quantities.

•Providing cost analysis and cost planning for construction projects.

•Negotiating and managing contracts between clients and contractors.

•Ensuring projects are completed within budget.

•Advising on tax depreciation and life cycle costing of buildings.

How much do quantity surveyors earn?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for quantity surveyors in the United States is $86,720 per year. Actual compensation will depend on factors like:

•Level of education and certification. Chartered surveyors tend to earn higher pay.

•Years of experience. Senior quantity surveyors with many years of experience typically earn higher salaries.

•Job location. Quantity surveyor salaries tend to be higher in large cities and metropolitan areas.

•Employer. Salaries tend to be higher working for large engineering and construction firms. Self-employed quantity surveyors can also earn higher pay.

•Additional skills and responsibilities. Quantity surveyors with expertise in areas like forensic quantity surveying, dispute resolution, and project management may earn higher pay.

In summary, a career as a quantity surveyor can be very rewarding. If you have an interest in construction, cost management, and project administration, this may be an excellent career path for you to consider.


As we have explored, a career as a quantity surveyor offers many benefits for those interested in construction, math, business, and management. With strong analytical and communication abilities, you can find success in this rewarding field. Continued education and professional qualifications will help you advance, allowing you to take on more complex projects with greater responsibilities. The job outlook remains positive for ambitious quantity surveyors ready to demonstrate their skills. With hard work and dedication, you can build the expertise needed to thrive as a quantity surveyor, shaping the future of construction. Carefully weigh if this career aligns with your strengths and passions. If so, the door is open to join this essential profession that transforms our built environment.

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