What do they do?
Chartered surveyors may offer mortgage valuations, homebuyer's survey and valuations, full building surveys, building surveyors' services, quantity surveying, land surveying, auctioneering, estate management and other forms of survey- and building-related advice.
Where do they work?
Building surveying is required in a variety of real estate markets, including residential, commercial, leisure, agricultural and industrial.
As a chartered building surveyor, you could work in the private, corporate, public or voluntary sectors. Typical employers include:
- specialised private practices, eg surveying firms, specialist property consultancies and construction companies;
- central government, eg valuation office;
- local government, eg local authorities;
- large property-owning organisations, such as housing associations, retailers and leisure groups;
- public-private organisations;
- loss adjusters.
What is the work like?
- Demanding - it is important to bear in mind that working in the sector demands dedication and motivation as a number of qualifications must first be secured before you will be registered chartered surveyor, and this requires sacrificing spare time to study. However, as a qualified chartered surveyor you will receive a generous salary, enjoy a varied and flexible career, and receive company benefits.
- Collaboration - for much of the time work is done in a group with different people handling different parts of the operation, between planners, construction managers, design managers, subcontractors etc., and so emphasise that teamwork in these sectors and communication between departments is very important. The fact that you work with so many other people on the same project means that meeting deadlines is extremely important, otherwise you can hold up the whole operation.
- Responsibility - a surveying job confers a large amount of responsibility and control over decision making, which some people thrive on but others struggle with, especially considering that small decisions can often have large consequences. Surveyors should be prepared to work long hours and frequently commute to different/distant locations.
Sustainability and environmental impact have become a big issue in the construction and property industry making careers in this sector more attractive to students studying Sustainable Development and the Environment. Chartered surveyors are involved in projects such as making ancient buildings more energy efficient and lowering the carbon footprint of new developments.
There are 17 defined specialisms within chartered surveying. Surveying, however, can be broadly divided into three main sectors:
- Built Environment – surveying specialisms within the Built Environment group which include - Building Control, Building Surveying, Project Management, Quantity Surveying & Construction
- Land - surveying specialisms within the Land group include – Environment, Geomatics, Minerals & Waste Management, Planning & Development, Rural
- Chartered – this gives you professional status and access to the best jobs to become chartered – you need to belong to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
The 2017 Surveying Careers Guide, produced by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), will help you understand the wide variety of opportunities available in this sector.
Chartered Surveyor attributes/skills profile
|Key attributes/skills needed for the role||Where you could develop these skills or attributes while at university|
|Analytical and problem solving skills with the ability to produce accurate facts, figures and reports
||Through academic studies and relevant work experience. Practical problem solving skills are particularly valued.
|Demonstrable interest in business, and commercial awareness
Keep up-to-date with business and sector news.
Join the main professional body RICS, they have free student membership. Follow hashtags such as #surveythefuture on Twitter.
|Excellent inter-personal and customer service skills
||Mainly through working in a customer service environment but could include roles such as university ambassador or working for a university unit.
|Ability to achieve targets
||Achieving academic deadlines and through work experience.
|Willingness to study for further qualifications in your own time
||Evidence of taking on extra responsibilities and learning outside or in addition to academic curriculum e.g. CAPOD courses (see below).
|Strong communication & interpersonal skills
Many of these skills you will develop through your academic studies and extra- curricular activities.
CAPOD offers courses on these kinds of skills regularly within its Professional Skills Curriculum.
|Ability to organise time and work methodically whilst paying attention to detail
|Leadership qualities and effective team working skills
||Using the University’s subscription to the Microsoft IT Academy can help to develop your skills with programmes such as Excel.
Networks - why and how to use them
Why are networks important?
- Networking is particularly important and can help you succeed with your applications. If you have been in contact with someone working for the organisation then you have extra information to back up your application. Use social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook (many organisations have their own page).
Where alumni work now
- Recent St Andrews graduates have gone on to work as Graduate Surveyor (BNP Parabas Real Estate), Senior Surveyor (CBRE), Director (Ulysses Real Estate Investment), Building Surveyor (Bradley-Mason LLP), Rural Surveyor (Smiths Gore), Chartered Surveyor (CKD Galbraith), Chartered Surveyor (Jones Land LaSalle) and Property Professional (Commercial Real Estate Hong Kong). These alumni can make extremely useful contacts, giving you an "edge" with your applications and interviews.
There are several ways to make contact with alumni.
- Saint Connect- is the new networking platform which allows you to connect with alumni and join discussion groups. Find out how to use Saint Connect by viewing the 'Video Tour' (bottom right-hand side of Saint Connect screen).
- LinkedIn – Alumni Tool, this feature shows the career paths of 40,000+ alumni you can find graduates working at particular organisations in a chartered surveying capacity eg RICS, CKD Galbraith, Atkins and Knight Frank. Watch the YouTube video on how to use this resource.
- Graduate recruiters - ask if they can put you in touch with any alumni now working for their company.
- Friends and family - ask around your immediate social network for any contacts in the organisations which interest you.
- This networking video produced by Cass Business School gives excellent tips on effective networking.
How to gain experience/internships
- Summer internships – There are not many internships on offer for students who are not studying a RICS accredited degree. Some paid internships are only open to penultimate year students so if you are in first or second year you could also consider work-shadowing and working voluntarily or a speculative approach to smaller employers - see below for advice on finding employers.
- Organisations which offer internships related to surveying include
How to get a (graduate) job
- Qualifications required - for those wanting to become a chartered surveyor there are two options; be taken on by a company and sponsored through the RICS training, or fund yourself through the post-graduate qualification and then look for work. The first option will probably appeal to more individuals, but the number of companies willing to take you on will be slightly limited.
- Graduate programmes - the following websites may be helpful in finding vacancies for non-cognate graduates:
- Read the TargetJobs guide to Property (also available at the Careers Centre) and TargetJobs Employer hubs independent reviews on top graduate employers
- TargetJobs How to get a graduate job at Savills - might be useful to students applying to other companies in the sector as well.
- Read the RICS 2017 Surveying Careers Guide which lists the larger surveying firms who will take on non-cognate graduates, including deadlines and how to apply.
- Have a look at the RICS jobs pages. While the majority of opportunities will be aimed at qualified surveyors, there are exceptions.
- Keep checking the Careers Centre website for vacancies in surveying. If they are posted on our site then the companies should be happy to take non-cognates.
- Smaller firms are receptive to well thought out and well argued speculative applications. Try to find out which partner handles recruitment and address your letter to him or her by name. Find the names and addresses of firms using the RICS website and then contact them individually for information on vacancies. Smaller firms are less likely to consider non-cognates, but they may be worth looking into.
- The Job Crowd advertises Property Rotational Graduate Scheme Graduate Jobs at a number of companies, including AECOM Ltd and Skanska.
- The Job Crowd also has a list of graduate jobs for surveyors
- Some companies you might consider applying to
- Recruitment consultants/search engines
- Professional bodies and trade associations
- Join the RICS as a Student Member and think about attending the occasional meetings of the local branch's Junior Organisation. You can often make useful contacts in this way if you are trying to get a job with a firm in that branch's area.
Applications, interviews and assessment centres
- Application procedures - can vary for this sector - the application process for the larger organisations tends to be an on-line application followed by an assessment centre then successful candidates go onto the interview stage. Smaller organisations use CVs and a covering letter. Check with your preferred employer/organisation for up-to-details.
- Numerical/data interpretation tests - often form part of the assessment tests. The Careers Centre has many resources for you to practice.
- Visit the application process section of our website for further advice.
Relevant postgraduate study
- Is it a requirement? you will need to ‘convert’ to surveying by studying an RICS-accredited postgraduate conversion course. Read TargetJobs article on how to get a graduate job in property through an RICS approved postgraduate conversion course.
- Popular further study courses - Liverpool John Moores University, MSc Commercial Building Surveying, University of Manchester, MSc City & Regional Planning, University of Reading MSc Construction Management, Heriot-Watt University MSc Real Estate Development and Management.
Read the RICS 2017 Surveying Careers Guide for a directory of companies and universities where you can gain a qualification in surveying.
Key Links and Resources
Careers Centre resources
Use CareerConnect, your central careers hub, to:
- Book an appointment with a careers adviser
- Search for vacancies (Job Shop, internships/work experience, graduate jobs)
- Register for events
- The Careers Centre subscribes to GoinGlobal, a specialist website with information and job vacancies worldwide.
General property careers information
Professional Bodies, Trade Organisations & Journals/Magazines