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In Focus: Inside Story: The Cost Consultant/Quantity Surveyor

The Cost Consultant/ Quantity Surveyor

Whether you’re new to quantity surveying or an experienced QS looking to move from a job role within building or civil engineering contracting, a job with a Cost Consultancy or Management Contractor could prove your best career move yet.  Making such a decision can be daunting so to help you choose, Maxim Recruitment spent some time with a Senior Quantity Surveyor/Cost Manager with 15 years’ experience in the construction industry.

Quantity surveyors are known as the accountants of construction. “There’s one big difference between us and number crunchers though,” jokes Cost Manager/Senior QS Andrew Summers. “We have more personality! Half the skill is actually communication. You’ve got to feel comfortable communicating with anyone from architects and subcontractors to clients and planners,” explains Andrew.

Maxim Recruitment caught up with Andrew at Heathrow Terminal 3 where he is currently working as a Cost Manager/Senior Quantity Surveyor on a major refurbishment project.

The Role of a QS/Cost Manager

It might sound trite but no day is ever the same for Andrew, which greatly helps eliminate boredom and monotonous routines. Today he is tied to the desk juggling contract issues, cost valuation and building estimates. Tomorrow could find him out and about with construction project managers, site managers or clients advising on construction techniques, or assessing the value of work undertaken. The day after might see him back at the desk again making payments to subcontractors and suppliers or assessing whether T3 is progressing on time and to budget.

He says, “This job isn’t about getting a project done for the cheapest price. It’s about getting value for money and that means getting the best from people.” He adds,” you’ve got to be a good team player. On blue-chip projects like Wembley Stadium or the 2012 Olympics you can expect to be working with the same people for several years.”

Office or Site Based Quantity Surveying Role?

Traditionally, a Quantity Surveyor’s role was to deal with cost estimating on building or construction sites. Recently however, the job has expanded and Quantity Surveyors are just as likely to find themselves offering ideas and creative solutions at the early stages of a project.

Time spent on the road depends on the type of project. T3 is a largely desk-based job, but Andrew’s previous civil engineering jobs- which include everything from railway and road works to office refurbishments and sports pavilions- have seen him travelling the length and breadth of the UK.

“Flexibility is key. You’ve got to put in the hours and make sacrifices,” says Andrew. “That can mean being prepared to move around the UK or even abroad. If you’re committed, the rewards can be excellent.  It's worth knowing what committment you are wanting, and being asked to make right from the start, so no one is under any illusions about what is expected in the coming months & years".

Is a Quantity Surveying Career Right for You?

At university, Andrew chose a broad course embracing everything from civil engineering to estimating. He later specialised as a Quantity Surveyor. “Being a wizard at maths isn’t essential but having a head for figures helps”, advises Andrew. “If you can’t stand numbers, this job isn’t for you.”

During his 15 years as a Quantity Surveyor, Andrew has not stopped learning and developing new talents.  He has fine-tuned his skills in project management, construction techniques, interpersonal communication and planning regulations and at T3 he is sharpening his IT prowess.

Quantity Surveying Careers = Earning Power

Earning power has to be factored in whilst making career choices. For Andrew, lucrative financial rewards made quantity surveying far more attractive than a career in architecture for example. In fact, a Trainee Quantity Surveyor can expect to be paid a basic salary of up to around £20,000, a Graduate Quantity Surveyor with 2 years experience up to about £27,000 + car,  rising to £40,000 + full package when qualified and upwards of £60,000 as an Associate Director, Partner or Director of a Cost Management Division.

“If you’re committed and flexible it’s easy to move up the ranks. The rewards are there for those who are determined to succeed,” Andrew states.  " I love the Cost Consultant QS role, and would recommend it to anyone."

Overseas opportunities

If you have the travel bug, then opportunities in construction hot spots like Dubai in the UAE or the Caribbean are virtually limitless and highly lucrative.

Contact Maxim Recruitment

Can you see yourself in a Cost Consultant or Managing Contracting role? If this is the right construction job or quantity surveying career for you, get in touch with Maxim Recruitment and send your CV using the details below. Our staff can offer a wealth of opportunities across public and private projects and have all the information you need at their fingertips. The first day in your new career is just a phone call or click away.

Contact us
To discuss your career options with an experienced and knowledgeable consultant, please call us on 0870 243 0446 for a confidential discussion.  Forwarding a CV prior to discussion is always helpful; this can be done by clicking here or by using the details on the Contact Us page

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