The property sector is a large and rewarding industry for anyone contemplating a career within the built environment.
A surveyor is a building specialist who can assess potential defects and future problems, and provide an accurate market valuation for a property.
From damp and timber defects to invasive vegetation such as Japanese knotweed, a surveyor is a trained expert that property owners, tenants and commercial operators rely on to protect their investment.
According to recently released figures, a Chartered Surveyor earns in the region of £60K, with members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) earning roughly £12K more than their unaccredited counterparts. The title of Chartered Surveyor is well respected worldwide and can be an important stepping stone on your pathway to promotion.
Is property surveying for you?
In addition to the formal qualifications that are set out below, it should go without saying that there’s no point choosing a career in surveying unless you have a passion for property and a determination to learn.
Since you’ll be working with a wide range of clients ranging from home buyers to mortgage companies, you will also need to demonstrate the personal abilities to:
- work efficiently and with meticulous attention to detail
- understand and analyse professional and relative data
- be proactive and solve problems
- plan, prioritise and work effectively and to deadlines
- communicate and negotiate effectively verbally and in writing
Whether you are a school leaver, an undergraduate or have some relevant work experience already, there are a number of routes into becoming a residential surveyor.
Taking the academic route
Most but not all Chartered Surveyors start out by completing a RICS accredited degree course. There are about 500 of these courses available in a wide variety of subjects including Building Surveying, Facilities Management, Property Finance and Civil Engineering – you can view the entire list here.
If you have a degree in a relevant subject that is not RICS accredited, you will need to take a postgraduate degree in surveying at a RICS accredited university, through a company training scheme.
Graduates are first employed to assist more experienced colleagues on a full range of instructions such as building inspections while working towards gaining chartered status. As you gain more experience, you will start to take the lead on smaller projects. Through a graduate trainee scheme, you can apply to become a qualified Chartered Surveyor after two or more years.
By then you will have built up valuable professional work experience that will help you to pass the gruelling oral Assessment of Professional Competency (APC) examination. Gaining full MRICS status is seen as the hallmark of professionalism in the property industry. As one long-standing member explains: “RICS qualification and membership ensures the highest quality reporting and level of professionalism. That means peace of mind for the client knowing that someone with extensive professional knowledge is casting their expert eye over the building he is thinking of purchasing. Why cut corners when you don’t have to?” (Able Surveyors)
Taking the non-academic route
With current skill shortages reported in the construction industry, there is an urgent need for young talent with the aptitude to become the next generation of professional experts in the field. There are various ways to RICS memberships that don’t involve going down the graduate route including two apprenticeship options:
- A Surveying Technician Apprenticeship takes two years, and you need 5 GCSEs at Grade C (including English and Maths) to be eligible. At the end of the period, you will have achieved a Level 3 Diploma in Surveying as well as AssocRICS memberships.
- A Chartered Surveyor Apprenticeship takes 5 years, with an entry requirement of 3 A-Levels at grade C and including the completion of a Level 3 Surveying Technician Apprenticeship. At the end of the period, you will acquire degree status and become a MRICS.
If you are a senior property professional with 10+ years’ experience, having never completed an accredited degree or postgraduate qualification, you can obtain MRICS status by demonstrating
- 20 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for the last 12 months
- Completed senior professional assessment documentation
- Passing the senior professional final assessment interview
Sava, formerly known as National Energy Services, offers an alternative route into residential surveying for those without a relevant degree. Their Level 6 Diploma in Residential Surveying is approved for direct entry into by offering AssocRICS membership as soon as you qualify.
Who are the main employers?
Once you have reached chartered surveyor status, the path is clear to becoming a consultant responsible for a variety of work. While many surveyors choose to remain ‘generalist practitioners’, others specialise in an aspect of surveying such as building surveying, valuation and quantity surveying, commercial property, project management, minerals & waste management, residential property, planning & development, facilities management etc.
Surveying is somewhat of a niche career, with fewer career opportunities available than in other areas of the property & construction industry. Most graduate-level jobs are found in large property firms and building consultancies, regional chartered surveying firms or estate agents, and larger construction companies that employ specialist in-house surveyors. Smaller local surveying practices and, of course, public sector opportunities in local authorities or the Valuation Office Agency, may also have vacancies.
Building surveyors can be involved in any part of the construction process and their expertise is sought after throughout the operational lifecycle of a building. As professional consultants who provide technical advice to the construction and property industries, their work is varied and stimulating, often involving multiple projects at a time.
While the route to get there may look like big commitment when you’re just starting out, it’s a solid career path that can set you up for life.
Guest post by Dakota Murphey, who has more than a decade of experience in a range of HR and Marketing roles. Since becoming a full-time mum, she enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge through her writing and connecting with like-minded professionals. Follow her on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey