QUICK SALARY FACTS
Typical Total Salary Package Earned by Quantity Surveyors in the United Kingdom:
We will need to split this information into 2 groups for the purposes of this question, due to the difference in cost of living between London (and surrounding counties) and other parts of the UK. Meaning, North, Midlands, Wales, Scotland etc.
- Assistant Quantity Surveyor in London: £25k - £35k p/a
- Quantity Surveyor in London: £35k - £48k p/a
- Senior Quantity Surveyor in London: £48k - £70k p/a
- Commercial Manager in London: £70k - £105 p/a
- Senior Commercial Manager / Director in London: £105k + p/a
- Assistant Quantity Surveyor in other UK: £20k - £28k p/a
- Quantity Surveyor in other UK: £28k - £40k p/a
- Senior Quantity Surveyor in other UK: £40k - £55k p/a
- Commercial Manager in other UK: £55k - £70k p/a
- Senior Commercial Manager / Director in other UK: £70k p/a +
On Average How Much More Money Can be Earned in London Compared to other parts of the UK?
Candidates looking at moving to London and the surrounding counties from other parts of the UK, can typically expect up to a 20% - 30% rise in salary to compensate them for the increased cost of living in the South East.
Experience Range that is in Most Demand:
As the UK construction industry continues to go from strength to strength, the skills shortage with regards to Quantity Surveying, is certainly in the more junior to intermediate level.
Quantity Surveyors with anywhere from 2 years of good experience through to 10 years is where the real need is. Quantity Surveyors within this bracket of experience will typically be at Assistant Quantity Surveyor, Quantity Surveyor or Senior Quantity Surveyor level.
Is Being Chartered Advantageous?
Yes. It's more of an advantage when joining a Consultancy within the UK. I've seen examples of Quantity Surveyors receiving their full MRICS status one week and being paid / offered up to £10k per annum more within weeks. It's reasonably fair to say that receiving your professional membership seems to open many more doors for a promotion up the levels of Quantity Surveying also (Internally & via changing employers).
Main contractors are also looking favourably upon applicants with their professional memberships. Many main contractors seem to run schemes to help their Quantity Surveyors get through their APC diaries and to do this, they need currently Chartered Quantity Surveyor's within the business to help mentor and assess work. However, the financial gain to being Chartered within the main contracting sector appears to be less attractive than within the Consultancy business.
Q1 What are the factors affecting the salaries that can be secured in the United Kingdom for a Quantity Surveyor?
Experience: The quality of your experience is still the number 1 factor in the UK, unlike some locations I have recruited previously such as the Middle East. What I'm being told from clients is that there are plenty of Quantity Surveyors on the market, however there are a shortage of 'good' Quantity Surveyors!
Qualifications are definitely important and can rule you in / out of certain vacancies, however in the UK a common sense view is often taken on applications and more likely than not, your ability to do the job remains paramount compared to whether you have a certain qualification.
Location: This could / should arguably be #1 in this list. It is a fact that if you are working in London or the surrounding counties, your salary is higher than your fellow QS's working in other parts of the country doing the same role. The cost of living in London and the South East is considerably more expensive than other parts of the country (particularly accommodation prices) and salaries reflect this.
Working Hours: Often QS's on the main contractor side are contracted to do more hours and tend to feel more pressure to do hours outside of what they are contracted to do. For this reason salaries tend to be higher working for a main contractor than a Consultancy or Client.
Q2 Typically, how do bonus arrangements work?
Bonuses in the UK are typically discretionary bonuses and based on numerous factors such as individual performance, project(s) performance and company performance.
I do not see any correlation in the type of company you work for and your bonus amount, however what we do recognise is that larger companies tend to have strict guidelines to bonuses, whereas some of our smaller niche clients are able to be more flexible on their bonus pay-outs and can on occasions pay them before 12 months.
Q3 Are the best salaries being offered on the client side or the contracting section of the construction industry in the UK?
Salaries for a Quantity Surveyor working for a main contractor are typically known to be higher than those working for a Consultancy or Client.
However, the difference is minimal and if you worked your salary out on a 'per hour' basis, you would likely earn more per hour working for a Consultancy. Again, this is a relatively minimal difference though.
- Consultancy / Client: Typically 37.5 - 40 hour week, Monday - Friday
- Contractor: 40 - 45 hour week, Monday - Friday
Q4 What type of project experience is paying the best salary at the current time in this location?
There are always trends in certain types of projects where salaries can get ultra competitive. There are also slight niche sectors where your experience could be in more short supply leading you to be able to command a slight premium on your salary. However in general, candidates with good major project experience are what is needed in the UK.
If you wish to maximise your salary, building up a career in a certain sector and becoming a specialist in that sector could be a way to maximise your salary if / when that sector is busy. However, the risk is that you will get pigeon holed as a specialist and struggle to achieve that salary in other sectors should there be a lack of work in that sector.
Rather than any particular sector being reliable to maximise you income, please read Q6 which will give you some great insight into other ways to maximise your earnings and make your CV more appealing.
Q5 Does being bilingual improve earning power in this location?
Being bilingual will not typically help your earning power in the UK. Your standard of English (written & verbal) will.
Q6 What type of previous experience and CV will get me the best salary offer?
There are a number of things that my clients continuously ask for in a CV. A summarised list:
- A full range of pre and post contract experience
- Continued commitment to relevant further education. ie gaining your MRICS or gaining a MSc in subject such as Construction Law etc
- Strong leadership / mentoring skills
- Larger companies often prefer candidates with previous experience working for one of the larger national / regional companies. This is often due to familiarity with working on larger projects with stricter procedures.
- Demonstrating clear continued career progression in your CV without too many changes in employer
- The ability to manage more than one project at a time
- Good contractual knowledge of familiar forms of contract such as JCT and NEC
- Ability to deal with contractual correspondence
- Experience on major projects or projects similar to that of which a client typically works on
- Ability to work largely independently on typical day-to-day tasks at your level of Quantity Surveying
- Having experience on projects from start through to completion
The more skills you have and can demonstrate to be capable of performing, the valuable an asset you are to an employer due to your versatility within the business.
Q7 What factors will reduce my salary offer and employability?
Job Hopping - Is the most common phrase I hear it called. QS's that have changed employment many times in short periods of time will limit their employability and potentially their earning potential on a permanent basis as they are seen as a risk.
Need for Training - Companies are absolutely fine with having to train QS's in certain aspects of the job they've not had experience in before. This in itself is not an issue. In fact, many of our clients are purposely hiring very inexperienced QS's to train them and mould them accordingly.
However, if you are going to need training to do the role you are applying for, you will need to be reasonable in your salary expectations accordingly. You may often need to entertain the lower end of the salary bracket and accept that you will receive great mentorship and progress through the ranks once you are ready. Salary will follow you up.
Moving Out of London - Is sometimes a problem, if you are someone who lives in a surrounding county to London (ie Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex etc) and currently commutes into Central London to work.
If you are looking to move from a role in Central London and into a role nearer to home, you may need to accept that salaries are not quite a lucrative as in Central London and consider taking a slight decrease in salary.
Returning to the UK - If you are one of the many thousands of Quantity Surveyors who have been working overseas in recent years, you may find that your worth in the UK market is slightly less than an equally as qualified QS that has been continually working in the UK.
Q8 Will proven management experience increase my salary and employability?
Yes. The big shortage of Quantity Surveyors in the UK is in the junior to mid-management levels, therefore if you have proven experience in managing / mentoring more junior members of staff as part of your role, this is potentially a real asset.
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