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Never a Better Time to Become a UK Quantity Surveyor

There is a clear trend from many construction companies wanting to take on Quantity Surveyors at a junior level in the current market. The UK construction market is currently riding one of the most prominent waves in recent history and there has never been a better time to be looking for a position in Quantity Surveying in the UK.

What Do You Classify as 'Junior Level Quantity Surveyors'?

Typically by 'Junior Level', I mean anyone from zero experience to typically a four or five years experience as a QS. Typical job titles would include:

  • Graduate QS
  • Trainee QS
  • Apprentice QS
  • Assistant QS
  • Intermediate QS

We've seen a need for Quantity Surveyors with as little as no experience or qualifications in Quantity Surveying through to post graduate Quantity Surveyors with a couple of years experience.

Why Such a Need for Junior Quantity Surveyors?

There seems to be 3 key reasons why junior level Quantity Surveyors in such demand:

1. Shortage of New Graduates - There is a theory that we are now experiencing the knock on effects of the economic downturn of several years ago. That students around this time either decided not to study construction related qualifications due to the state of the industry at the time. Alternatively fresh construction graduates went into different industries or to work abroad around this period. The theory is that this could account for a shortage of Quantity Surveyors at a junior level in the UK today.

2. Cost - Salaries for Quantity Surveyors have been rising sharply in the UK over the past 2 years. This is across the board. Even at Assistant Level, salaries have risen to previously unseen figures.

Construction Companies seem to have a clear desire to take on bright and ambitious, freshly qualified or nearly qualified Quantity Surveyors with minimal experience. It is thought this profile of candidate can still be attracted at a sensible salary with a view to offering strong training programmes in house and moulding such candidates into strong Quantity Surveyors.

3. The Market has Boomed - There are no two ways to put this. The UK construction market has experienced unprecedented growth over the last two years. Particularly in the South East. Construction companies are intensely competing over the best available Quantity Surveyors in the market.

How to Get into Quantity Surveying

Quantity Surveying is very much a Professional occupation and for that reason, the vast majority of Quantity Surveyors tend to be qualified. To what level they are qualified varies, however the vast majority these days hold a degree in Quantity Surveying or another related subject and that still appears to be the best and most favoured route into the profession by construction companies. However here are a few common routes into the profession:

Studying a Formal Qualification in Quantity Surveying

The most common way to get into Quantity Surveying is to complete a formal qualification in the subject or other relevant subject. There are a host of qualifications that can set you up to get your foot in the door and become a Quantity Surveyor. The most common being:

  • Degree (BSc)
  • Masters (MSc) - Often Studied after completing a non-cognate degree course
  • Higher National Diploma's (HND)

Some students decide to complete their qualification before looking for work and starting as a Quantity Surveyor. Some decide to do a placement year in industry as part of their course. Some are able to find work as a Quantity Surveyor and study for a qualification on day release whilst working 3-4 days per week in industry.

In the latter scenario, construction companies are often willing to pay for the university course or subsidise the course to an extent. These agreements are often written into contracts of employment and do involve you paying back such fees if you are to leave the company funding the qualification in a certain time period. However they can offer a cost effective and practical way to study and learn the role in tandem.

Crossing Over From Another Construction Profession

I've seen candidates go into Quantity Surveying from originally working in a number of other professions within construction. These include working in one of the trades or as a general labourer, Site Management and Engineering.

It's not overly common but I see it often enough to mention that there is a favourable correlation to hire candidates as Quantity Surveyors if they have worked around construction sites and understand the industry.

However I would point out that you would need a strong understanding of what the typical day to day duties of a Quantity Surveyor entail as well as the confidence and ability to sell your transferable skills and knowledge to an employer to give them confidence to hire you as a QS. Most then make plans to study a formal qualification whilst working in the role.

No Qualification in Quantity Surveying - No Experience in Construction

I'm not going to lie, I don't see this too often. However, it does happen and there can be opportunities for candidates with no qualifications in Quantity Surveying or other relevant construction related courses.

I think in this instance, you would need a very strong understanding of the Quantity Surveying role, either as someone who has worked within the construction industry already, but not as a QS. Alternatively, maybe you will have very strong links such as friends or family that are Quantity Surveyors and have been able to coach you somewhat and fully brief you on the role to the extent that you could impress at interview.

Finally you could perhaps take an admin related role with a construction company where you can gain a feel for the business and the individual roles within a construction company before looking for an internal transfer once you have shown willingness and commitment to the business.

Most Desired Quantity Surveying Profile

The huge demand in the market is for Quantity Surveyors that have already qualified and have some strong post qualification experience as a Quantity Surveyor in the industry already.

Good candidates with this type of profile can be extremely interesting to construction companies as it is thought that such candidates will have already learnt the basics of the role. They will likely be familiar with following systems and procedures, performing in common day-to-day tasks and will generally be able to hit the ground and start running quicker than a fresh graduate or undergraduate.

I've had some fantastic vacancies in at Assistant Quantity Surveyor level in the last 6 months with a range of employers all offering their unique training and career development programmes to help attract the best Assistant Quantity Surveyors in the market.

Talk to Maxim Recruitment

If you're a Quantity Surveyor and looking for a junior level position in the UK, please get in touch with Maxim Recruitment. We have roles in most locations within the UK with a wide range of construction companies offering fantastic career development for Assistant Quantity Surveyors and other junior levels. We'd be happy to talk through your motivations with a view to matching you with your most suited employer.



Stuart Hackett
Senior Recruitment Consultant – UK & Middle East

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