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Do I Already Need to be Chartered to Move into a Specialist Quantum Expert Witness Role?

If you’ve read any of my previous articles relating to moving into quantum roles within expert witness services, you will have read that my primary piece of advice to candidates is always to get Chartered before considering any other form of further education.

I may also have stated previously that to move into a quantum consultant role in expert witness services, it essential to be Chartered.
Whilst this is often the case, it is not totally black and white and it’s worth clarifying that Consultant and Analyst level roles do exist for non-chartered candidates.

Entry Level Roles in the Expert Witness Sector

Such roles are a rarity but do create an opportunity for non-chartered candidates with a passion to move into construction disputes at a junior level. Job titles can vary dependant on employer, however they are most commonly referred to as Quantum Consultant or Quantum Analyst and exist with reputable expert witness consultancies.

In these roles, most candidates will gain their first exposure to working in the construction disputes sector for a specialist consultancy. Your main responsibility will be to assist the lead expert and their team by carrying out forensic quantum analysis of sections of the dispute. You will use your Quantity Surveying skills and contractual knowledge to analyse and interpret data relating to the dispute, often presenting the data in a format that the lead expert and senior members of the team can use to make meaningful judgements on as part of their expert report.

For example on a mixed use projects, you may be given all the data and correspondence relating to the RC Frame and groundworks on the project and asked to carry out specific tasks on cost related issues within the dispute.

Whilst working in this role, you will build your knowledge of the internal processes that an expert witness and their team will go through when compiling their report, with a view to taking on more and more responsibility as you learn the role.

What is the Importance of working towards your RICS?

Whilst clients are willing to take candidates who have not been fully awarded full membership to the RICS or similar professional body, candidates applying for such roles will often need to be actively working towards their RICS or (similar equivalent) status and ideally have completed a sufficient amount of their APC diary to be considered for an entry level role.

It is slightly subjective as to how much of your APC diary needs to be completed to be attractive to an employer and this also vary from client to client. Critically, it will likely depend on each individual client’s ability to provide you with work relating to your competencies to finish your APC Diary.

Where hiring companies only provide expert witness services, they may be unable to provide you with any work that will relate to your APC diary. The consequences of this would be that you will be unable to complete your APC Diary whilst in employment. This would be due to lack of access to the relevant competencies that you will need to finish your diary and achieve chartered status.

However, where hiring companies do undertake work that relates to your APC diary, they may be slightly more flexible as where they expect you to have progressed with your APC before considering you for a vacancy within their business.

As a rule, I think candidates should aim to have completed a minimum of 60% - 75% of their APC diary before considering making the move into a specialist expert witness related role. However, the ideal scenario would be to complete your APC diary, and to start applying for roles whilst waiting for your interview with the RICS panel.

What sorts of Salaries are on offer for entry level roles?

A Quantum consultant will typically be able to attract salaries of up to £40k + a generous annual bonus that can typically be within 10% - 30% of your salary. Meaning total earnings in the region of £44k - £52k.

Whilst their may be some movement in salaries dependant on a candidate’s experience and suitability to any individual role, £40k should be taken as a fair average salary at this level.

As most roles in this sector are office based. There will often be no travel or car allowance in addition to the basic salary offered. However, many clients I work with do have arrangements for providing season ticket loans for those candidates needing to spend large sums up front on annual train tickets into London.

Career Opportunities

It’s perfectly conceivable that many Quantity Surveyors en route to becoming Chartered may already be earning in excess of £40k, therefore making a move into disputes won’t be for everyone.

Starting salaries within disputes are modest, due to a steep learning curve attached to the role for the first 3-6 months and many candidates taking that amount of time to be truly productive.

However, the career opportunities within construction disputes once you have passed your probation are a particularly enticing. Due to disputes being a niche sector of the construction industry, the skills gained in this sector are demand and short supply; hence an encouraging market for good candidates with the core skills to work in such roles. With candidates who have previous experience in the disputes sector in increasingly high demand.

Meaning that once you have entered the disputes sector and have 6 months to a year’s experience, you will often find that promotions and pay rises are quickly on the agenda if you are doing a good job and committed to remaining in the sector.

Clients I work with have advised me that some candidates have even been known to be promoted two levels within a 12 month period.

Salaries for the next levels of seniority are as follows:

Seniority

Lower Salary

Higher Salary

Senior Consultant

£50k

£70k

Managing Consultant

£70k

£90k

Associate Director

£90k

£110k

Industry Leading Bonuses:

One of the key selling points to the Expert Witness sector is the lucrative bonuses that are paid annually. Bonuses tend to range from 10% - 30% per annum. Often far in excess of the typical bonuses received in traditional Quantity Surveying roles.

Any candidates performing well within most consultancies will earn circa 10% - 20% with exceptional performances being rewarded up to 30% in some firms. Experienced candidates in this sector are regularly taking home bonuses in the tens of thousands of pounds annually.

Training and Support

Client’s within this sector are often supportive of candidate’s wanting to go on and do relevant further training and qualifications. For example, many candidates within the disputes sector feel that they benefit from studying an MSc / LLM in construction Law.

Many employers within this sector will often encourage ambitious employees to study towards their MSC / LLM in order to progress their career. In such instances, the employer will often pay the candidate’s course fees, which can be in the region of £5,000 per year.

Summary

As a specialist recruiter in the claims and disputes market, I can provide career, salary and general market advice to any Quantity Surveyors interested in making a move into this sector.
If you are a Quantity Surveyor considering a move into a specialist construction disputes role, and feel that you would benefit from a confidential chat about your options, then please get in touch, ideally with a CV using the Maxim Recruitment website – all applications and enquiries will come directly to me personally.

Related Blogs:

If you enjoyed this article, you may find the following similar articles useful:

Making the move from Quantity Surveying to Expert Witness Services

Claims: What should I do next? Chartership or Masters?

About The Author

Stuart Hackett
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 
Email: stuart@maximrecruitment.com

 

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