A career in surveying within the built environment presents graduates with the opportunity to be involved in diverse property and construction projects. It is a career that is incredibly varied and one that can offer individuals the scope to work in a technical or commerical capacity. A significant percentage of surveyors are employed in the private sector; largely with private practice quantity surveyors and construction contractors. Opportunities also exist in the public sector, notably with local authorities and government agencies. A recognised postgraduate qualification is necessary to work as a surveyor.
|Building control surveyor|
|Civil engineering surveyor|
|Planning & development surveyor|
|Rural practice surveyor|
When considering work experience opportunities it is useful to research the types of employers that recruit graduates. Surveying presents a broad a range of career opportunities but in the context of the built environment opportunities exist primarily with property and surveying consultancies but also with construction companies and large property owning companies in sectors such as retail, banking and leisure. The public sector is a further source of experience in that local authorities and central departments, including the Valuation Office Agency, employ surveyors.
The Target Jobs website provides employer profiles detailing internship and work experience opportunities in the property and construction sectors. As the property sector is inextricably linked to surveying, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is a useful source of information. The RICS recruit website contains details of surveying work experience placements; you can also use the website to research companies in different fields of surveying. There is a more comprehensive database of organisations on the ‘Find a Surveyor’ website. Some internship opportunities will be available only to students undertaking an accredited degree but not always; Knights Frank is an example of a company that will accept non-cognate work experience applicants. DTZ will also consider internship applications from non-cognate students; specific reference is made to relevant disciplines including Geography and Finance. If an internship is not forthcoming, approach companies in respect of work shadowing or smaller scale work experience opportunities. Gerald Eve is one example of a medium sized property consultancy that will consider speculative work experience applications. Even taking the initiative and arranging to speak with surveyors can potentially make a difference to your effectiveness at application and interview stage.
The Chartered Surveyors Training Trust is an organisation that supports young people (16 – 24) into a career in surveying. The opportunities that they provide are particularly appropriate to those that have not progressed into higher education but do represent a further option for non-cognate graduates to gain relevant training and experience.
Work experience opportunities exist with property and surveying consultancies, as outlined above, but also with construction and engineering companies. Key players such as Amey, Wates, Atkins, Aecom, Kier Group, Laing O’Rourke and Balfour Beatty offer internships but may only target students undertaking relevant degrees. Longer placement opportunities (6 or 12 months) are also available but, as with internships, tend to be restricted to specific degree disciplines. The breadth of career opportunities within companies of this size is such that work placements in areas other than surveying, corporate functions for example, may be feasible irrespective of your degree discipline. Carillion is interesting in that they operate an internship programme that is available only to graduates and forms the basis of their recruitment process; all degree subjects are considered. The ‘Building’ website provides data on UK contractors and house builders; this is an excellent resource with which to identify companies in the construction sector. Property Week is also a useful resource with which to research companies engaged in property and the built environment. The Chartered Institute of Building has an online directory listing chartered building companies and consultancies. A useful source of work placement opportunities is the Gradcracker website: this is an engineering resource but surveying opportunities are advertised.
Careers in Property 2011
The attached publication has been produced by training and recruitment experts from real estate firms across the industry. It has been designed for students looking to apply for graduate schemes or work experience. The publication containes information on a variety of employers and includes real life case studies. Unfortunately a 2012 version is not available so please use this resource with caution.
- Careers_in_Property_2011.pdf (last modified: 8 November 2010)
Opportunities in surveying are linked very closely to the health of the economy and the state of the property and construction industries. Both are cyclical and at present the market, particularly in respect of residential and commercial property, is at a low ebb as a result of the current economic climate. The current standpoint from the RICS is that there is still a shortage of building surveyors, particularly building control surveyors. Surveying is a broad career area concerning land, property and construction. As such, opportunities exist with a wide range of employers, encompassing a genuine breadth of job roles.
The two main sectors are:
Private practice - surveying firms (private practice quantity surveyors), specialist property consultancies, house building companies, property developers, building and civil engineering consultants, retailers, banks, insurance companies and utilities.
Public practice - local authorities, government departments and agencies, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), universities, housing associations and hospital trusts.
Graduate trainee surveyor schemes are offered by organizations in the private sector, particularly engineering and construction companies. The challenge facing Durham graduates is that, in many cases, these organizations will expect applicants to hold an accredited Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) qualification. Occasionally companies will recruit graduates from other backgrounds although is more common with some of the larger property and real estate companies. Construction and engineering companies do recruit graduates into a range of commercial roles in addition to the more technical quantity/building surveying and project management pathways.
Organizations tend to have closing dates between November and January of your final year in respect of graduate schemes. The directories provided by Prospects and Target Jobs (available in the Careers Centre and online) detail graduate employers within surveying in the built environment. The RICS and CIOB websites provide useful resources in respect of job seeking and graduate opportunities.
Examples of graduate schemes (construction and engineering):
Examples of non-cognate graduate schemes (property):
- Capita Symonds
- CB Richard Ellis
- Cushman & Wakefield LLP
- Jones Lang LaSalle
- Knight Frank LLP
- Lambert Smith Hampton
- Montagu Evans
Public sector opportunities
In the public sector the Valuation Agency Office (VOA) runs a 3 year graduate surveyor training programme. The VOA provides a comprehensive land and property valuation service to central and local government. To be eligible for the graduate scheme you must hold, or be working towards, a RICS–accredited Estate Management, Surveying or Valuation degree.
Refer to LG Jobs for public sector opportunities more generally In respect of surveying.
Job vacancies and recruitment agencies
Specialist recruitment consultancies, such as Macdonald and Company, occasionally have vacancies for trainee surveyors. Refer to the Recruitment Employment Confederation website for details of appropriate organizations. Opportunities will be advertised via the main graduate job sites but also through recruitment sites specific to the property and construction sectors.
Useful job vacancy websites
There are many general and specific job search resources in respect of town and regional planning; below are a number of key resources with which to begin your job search:
|Jobs in surveying||
|Careers in Construction||
Durham graduates will generally need to go on to study a postgraduate conversion course, accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), before entering the surveying profession. Usually any degree subject is acceptable in respect of quantity or commercial surveying, and closely related areas such as urban and planning surveying, although it is important to check entry requirements with individual institutions. Postgraduate courses within specific areas of surveying, including building surveying and construction, are more likely to require relevant study at undergraduate level; relevant work experience may also be required. It is useful to research and consider the type of surveying opportunities available to graduates as this will influence your choice of postgraduate course. The remit of a commercial investment property surveyor will be considerably different to that of a building surveyor or rural practice surveyor for example. Opportunities in the property and construction sectors exist not only for those whose interest is primarily in the technical demands of building projects but also for those whose interest in the sector relates to finance and investment, urban development and regeneration, planning, sustainability, consultancy, sales, leasing and valuation, procurement, supply chain management, dispute resolution and facilities management. Postgraduate and other study options (professional courses, distance learning, vocational courses) are available in respect of every aspect of this sector.
Students working towards a RICS accredited undergraduate or postgraduate qualification in surveying are required to undertake a further 24 months of competence based assessment in the work place. This is known as the APC (Assessment of Professional Competence) and is the basis for achieving chartered surveyor status. Some of the larger property firms will consider taking applicants from a non recognised RICS degree (non-cognates); allowing further study to take place over 2 years, either part-time or distance learning, in respect of the professional qualification. If the non-cognate route appeals it is important to find out what financial and study support potential employers will offer.
You need to apply for postgraduate study in your final year of undergraduate study; there are no absolute deadlines for postgraduate courses in this field but it is recommended that you apply early. It is important to make enquiries about entry requirements (including work experience), course content and fees as early as possible. Funding opportunities will be limited but you may be eligible for departmental bursaries/scholarships or employer sponsorship. Individual departments will be able to provide advice on fees and funding; for a general overview refer to the postgraduate section of the Prospects website. You do not have to apply as a finalist; it is perfectly acceptable to apply as a graduate should you wish to return to higher education at a later stage.
A comprehensive list of accredited postgraduate surveying courses is available on the RICS website. The CIOB website contains some very useful information on qualifications as well as a list of accredited courses in respect of the building industry. Further information on postgraduate courses can be found on the Prospects and FindaMasters websites.
Professional bodies (also known as associations, organizations or societies) are non-profit organizations concerned with developing, and supporting, a particular profession. They represent a valuable resource for anyone considering entering a particular profession as they will provide information on employment and training opportunities. Professional bodies will often accredit relevant professional and postgraduate courses; they can also provide a range of other services linked to job and training vacancies, network events, conferences and careers information.
In the surveying profession the main representative body is the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. This body is an excellent source of surveying related news and events; it also actively engages in professional development and learning related to the industry. Another facet of the organisation is RICS Student which is a career resource dedicated to the surveying profession. Other relevant professional organisations include the Chartered Institute of Building, the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors, the Association of Building Engineers and the British Institute of Facilities Management. Asset Skills is not a professional body but does represent employers in a number of sectors, including surveying, with a particular focus on addressing skills shortages (www.assetskills.org). A similar body, CITB Construction Skills, performs the same function for the construction industry.