Revealed: How to make your move into Chartered Surveying

Revealed how to make your move into chartered surveying

Ever wondered if a role as a Chartered Surveyor is for you?

The property industry offers a tremendous number of employment opportunities for a multitude of skill sets and career prospects can be lucrative and progressive.

So, whether you are a school leaver, university graduate or seeking a career change, the property industry has entry points for all levels. It’s fast-paced, unpredictable and rewarding. Although affected by the recession, the industry is expected to grow significantly over the next decade, creating roles for trainees and graduates all the way through to management and director-level jobs.

With an estimated worth of £5.2 trillion, the UK property industry is larger than the banking, leisure, communications and transport industries – a significant part of the UK economy. Globally, 70% of wealth is connected to property, from providing a place to live and work to enjoying leisure activities and shopping, it is the platform for the majority of business and commerce.

We spoke with Deverell Smith, property recruitment specialists, to find out what tips they’d give to those pursuing a career as a Chartered Surveyor.

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Do I need to qualify as a Chartered Surveyor?

From advising on the next World Cup stadium to planning how to house our booming population, the scope for a career in Chartered Surveying is extensive, encompassing everything within the built environment.

Becoming a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) accredited surveyor is highly regarded by the property industry and can really open doors. Qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor is similar to becoming a Lawyer or Doctor, in the sense that you specialise in a profession under that qualified umbrella.

There are wide-ranging career specialisms for chartered surveyors from selling, buying and leasing commercial property to valuing commercial and residential property and land, managing portfolios, negotiating leases on behalf of commercial landlords or tenants and consulting on development and town planning.

Once qualified you become a member of the RICS. Members are provided with continual learning, development and networking opportunities to enable them to evolve and grow with the market place. For those who like the prospect of travel, this is a truly global profession with most major property consultancies having offices worldwide with a plethora of job opportunities for qualified surveyors.

What can you expect to earn as a Chartered Surveyor?

Earning potential for a Chartered Surveyor varies depending on location and specialism but on average earnings in the UK are:

  • Graduate – £25,000
  • Surveyor – £32,000
  • Associate – £45,000
  • Director – £60,000+

How do you become a Chartered Surveyor?

There are four main routes to qualifying:

Route 1: The most popular route is graduation from a RICS accredited degree followed by the APC, The Assessment of Professional Competence. This is a structured training work placement over a minimum period of 24 months to ensure Chartered Surveyors are competent to practice and maintain the level of standards set by RICS.

Route 2: Candidates can graduate in a non-RICS accredited degree and then undertake a post-graduate RICS accredited degree for one year before embarking on their APC.

Route 3: Professionals with a degree and with at least five years’ post-degree experience can achieve membership in 12 months through a fast-tracked version of the APC.

Route 4: RICS are keen not create barriers to entry. They recognise that obtaining a degree can be very expensive and not an option for everyone. Young school leavers can therefore sign up to the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust (CSTT), an organisation that helps young people to become surveyors by offering apprenticeship schemes that count towards associate membership (AssocRICS).

Many of the UK’s property consultancies offer graduate or apprenticeship placements for candidates to work towards their APC but competition for these placements is competitive. Gaining work experience in your summer holidays can help to set you apart.

Career Types in Chartered Surveying

Environment Surveyor

The role of an environment surveyor is to measure the impact construction will have on the surrounding area and the environmental impact on real estate. Roles include environmental management and auditing, risk management, contaminated land, urban regeneration and town planning.

Planning and development Surveyor

Ultimately planning and development surveyors’ advise on the most effective use of land and property resources. They assess the physical and social impact of the built environment, including design, build quality, IT, climate, transport, and sources of renewable energy. Typical employers for these types of practitioners include planning consultants, property developers and house-builders, local authorities and government bodies, banks and real estate investment funds,

Quantity Surveyor

Quantity Surveyors are effectively the cost managers of a construction project. The role will normally be split between an office and on site and will see a project through from planning to delivery ensuring cost effectiveness and profitability whilst maintaining standards.

Rural Practice Surveyor

These surveyors offer professional and technical consultative advice to stake holders of rural land such as farmers and landowners. They advise on unlocking the value of their assets, selling livestock, change of land use and rural management. Rural Practice Surveyors have expertise in consultancy and planning, real estate, environmental management, rental and lease reviews, auctioning and valuation.

Commercial Property

Commercial Property Surveyor’s value, purchase, sell, manage and lease commercial real estate. They negotiate between landlords and tenants, and strategically manage corporate property portfolios. Commercial Surveyors generally work for property consultancies and agencies in both the private and public sectors.

Residential Property

The role of a Residential Surveyor is similar to that of a commercial they buy and sell residential property either privately or through auction, strategically manage residential portfolios, value and survey property and give advice on investment and development.


The valuation of property determines whether banks will lend and therefore plays a crucial role in investment, banking, rates and taxation. Chartered Valuers research and interpret information to formally advise on a property or portfolio of properties, provide legal advice and give evidence for court cases.

Facilities Management

The role of a Facilities Manager is to manage the services that support the core running of a business, including relocation, health and safety, outsourcing, procurement, property management and utilities and services.

Dispute Resolution

Surveyors in this area are mediators and specialise in rent reviews, lease renewals, building contracts, boundary disputes, valuation, planning disputes, and professional negligence.

But what’s it really like?

Fleur Ragan, Project and Building Consultant for Knight Frank explains why she chose to become a Chartered Surveyor.

“Becoming a Chartered Surveyor was not something I considered at school – in fact I was not introduced to the idea until my late 20s. My background before this had been management consultancy, telecoms, media and heritage.

The first time I considered training as a surveyor was when I was shown round Highcliffe Castle in Dorset by a building surveyor. As a child, I had walked past the Castle on the way to the beach – it had been gutted by fire and was surrounded by barbed wire. Since then the Castle had been sensitively restored and the role of the building surveyor was clearly pivotal in this. I realised then that working in surveying was more than just the bricks and mortar; it was also about the human endeavour, the environment and the local community. Buildings only function with human input and being part of that is a real privilege.

I continued to work full-time whilst retraining for a postgraduate diploma at the University of the West of England in building surveying and gained my first position in surveying soon after. After 18 months I joined Knight Frank where I have been a commercial building surveyor ever since.

I often feel that with my job I get a ‘through the keyhole’ insight into the lives of other people, buildings, the organisations and industries that they inhabit. For anyone interested, I would recommend research and talking to as many people as you can and think about where you want to be long-term. The work can be unexpected but also very rewarding.”

Richard Wynn-Davies, Commercial Agency Surveyor for Edgerley Simpson Howe talks about his experience as a chartered surveyor specialising in retail warehouses across the UK.

“As a commercial agency surveyor no one working day is the same which really keeps things interesting. I am constantly dealing with different places, properties, clients and people; each offering their own and unique challenges. The varied content of my role really keeps me motivated.

The one thing that stays constant in my role is the perpetual interaction I have with my clients and contemporaries, whether it is negotiating or gathering information or just catching up, you will never go an hour without discussing or working on something with someone. Working as a commercial agent is busy and social making it a very rewarding career that I thoroughly enjoy.”

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