For candidates wanting to make a move into the construction claims and expert witness industry, qualifications and professional memberships are very important additions to your CV in order to be an attractive candidate to leading employers.
But which qualifications and professional memberships are most important to complete and in what order should you consider doing these?
Which Qualifications and Professional Memberships are valuable?
There are so many relevant qualifications and professional memberships out there, it can be confusing for any Quantity Surveyor, Planner, Engineer or PM who is wanting to pursue a career in claims or expert witness work.
As a starting point, there are 3 qualifications / professional memberships that are particularly desirable for claims and expert witness consultancies in the UK when considering candidates for entry level and intermediate level roles.
Whether you’re a Quantity Surveyor, Planner or Engineer and looking to make a career in construction claims and disputes, a Degree is your foundation qualification. These days a Degree is seen as a minimum requirement to entering into most construction professional roles, let alone moving into a specialist sector such as claims or expert work.
There are many relevant construction degrees that are seen as desirable regardless of which profession you move into. Largely Quantity Surveyors will do a Quantity Surveying Degree, Engineers will do an Engineering Degree etc etc. However it’s also reasonably common for people to change their mind after qualifying. Therefore if you are a Quantity Surveyor with a Civil Engineering Degree or vice versa, you should not encounter too many problems moving into the claims sector.
Further education is required to have a successful career in the claim or expert witness sectors. A Masters qualification specifically relating to Construction Law is a highly desirable qualification in this sector. Such courses usually range between 2 – 3 years depending on which course you chose and how you decide to study.
There are a lot of Construction Law Courses out there, however the most common courses I tend to see candidates complete are the MSc / LLM in Construction Law and Arbitration or Construction Law and Dispute Resolution.
Candidates should consider studying a course at a Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) [https://www.ciarb.org/] recognised institution as this should help you achieve your MCIArb professional membership in the future, which will also be valuable to you in this industry.
Such courses can be viewed here:
Gaining professional membership within your chosen profession is always a positive regardless of where you see your career progressing. Expert Witness Consultancies in particular tend to require candidates to be Chartered if they are going to use them as independent experts in the future. To be deemed an expert in your profession and carry out expert witness work, it is widely accepted that you should be a member of a relevant professional body.
For Quantum roles, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) [https://www.rics.org/uk/] appears to be the market leading professional body. However alternatives do exist such as the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) [https://www.cices.org/], which is also a highly respected professional body.
It’s not uncommon to see Quantity Surveyors who have decided to become a member of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) [https://www.ciob.org/] or even the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) [https://www.ice.org.uk/] also. It can sometimes come down to which professional body your employer at the time will support. However, given the choice; the RICS appears to be the most recognised and desired with clients I work with.
For Delay related roles, there does not appear to be a standard recognised Planning professional body that my clients desire candidates to be members of. Neither does being a professional member of such as body seem to be quite as critical as it is for Quantum related roles. However many of the leading candidate and contacts within specialising in delay work within the industry do tend to have membership to at least one professional body.
It’s not uncommon to see Planners with professional membership to relevant Engineering or Project Management bodies such as the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) or Association of Project Managers (APM) [https://www.apm.org.uk/], as many Planners do tend to come from an Engineering or Project Management background.
Which Order Should I Study Towards Such Qualifications / Professional Memberships?
So now you have a good idea of some of the familiar and most recognised qualifications and professional bodies out there, I’d just like to shed some light on which route you should be prioritising if you wish to specialise in claims and expert witness work.
In my opinion, candidates looking to specialise in claims and expert witness work should generally seek to attain their qualifications / professional memberships in the following order:
- Relevant Professional Membership
I don’t think there can be any confusion that getting your Degree is the primary focus before looking to achieve any specialist qualifications / professional memberships.
I do believe that seeking your Chartership after completing your Degree is the most sensible route to take, especially if you are likely to specialise in Quantum related claims / expert work. If you are looking to move into expert work in general, then becoming Chartered is 100% the correct route to follow. Specialist expert witness consultancies will require you to be Chartered if you aspire to testify as an Expert in the future.
It can be critical to achieve this prior to moving into an expert role as many specialist consultancies may not be able to provide you with enough relevant work to complete all your competencies on route to becoming Chartered.
If you are joining a claims consultancy rather than an expert witness consultancy, there is a little more flexibility in your decision. I do see many non-chartered candidates moving into claims consultancies. Often such candidates have decided to do their MSc / LLM in Construction Law before completing their Chartership and these candidates often have good exposure to claims related tasks in their traditional role as Quantity Surveyor or Planner.
However, in general I would still recommend doing your Chartership before a Masters for a couple of reasons.
- Your Chartership will likely prove more valuable to your career in general. I see many candidates salaries rising considerably within 6 months of becoming Chartered. It is also recognised positively by most employers in the construction industry. Whilst the MSc / LLM will be highly desirable within the claims sector, however you may not find that it is as highly recognised outside of the construction claims and disputes sector.
- You’ll find that many roles are open to good Chartered candidates in the construction claims and expert witness sectors without having completed an MSc / LLM. Such roles and their respective employers will often encourage and support you with time and finances to complete further qualifications such as an MSc / LLM once you are employed.
In summary, you will likely need a Degree, MSc / LLM in construction Law and a professional membership to really have a successful career in construction claims or expert witness work. The order in which you complete them is not set in stone, however my advice would in general be to complete your Chartership prior to studying towards a Masters in Construction Law, for the reasons set out above.
If you’re a senior professional and have any advice to add to this theory, or alternative courses / professional memberships that you feel are worth pursuing when considering specialising in the construction claims, disputes and expert witness sectors, I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice on the subject.
About The Author
Senior Recruitment Consultant, UK
I am based from the Maxim Recruitment head office in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire and I specialise in the recruitment of quantum and delay, claims and expert witness professionals in the UK and Overseas. With over 11 years’ experience spent recruiting construction professionals, I have an extensive knowledge of the construction industry and an enviable network of reputable clients and contacts, allowing me to find my candidates the right position with highly desirable employers.
Latest UK Quantity Surveying Jobs: https://www.maximrecruitment.com/quantum-delay-claims-and-dispute-jobs