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Quantity Surveyors in Construction sector

Did you like numbers in School?  Want to manage costs and finances of a project? Quantity Surveying is then the right role for you! 

The word Quantity Surveyor (QS) originated in United Kingdom (UK).  Quantity Surveying (QS) professionals working in the construction sector are often regarded as people concerned with construction costs and contracts.

Many people when asked say that Quantity Surveyors are people who estimate quantities of construction material but in reality they perform many other roles including managing costs and finances of a project, advising on procurement routes and deciding on construction contracts and related documentation.

While maintaining the expected standard and quality, a professional Quantity Surveyor aims at reducing the total cost of a project and ensures value for money on each item procured for building the project. 

Quantity Surveyors work in the industry where they may also be referred to as, construction surveyor, engineering surveyor, commercial cost manager or a construction cost consultant. 
 
If you have engineering or architecture degree; had mathematics, physics or computing as subjects in 10th and 12th and enjoyed playing with numbers, then QS is just the right profession for you. One needs to be flexible to take this up as a profession, as you may have to hop between construction sites and office. 



Demand and opportunities in Quantity surveying profession 

In countries like Canada, Australia and Britain, Quantity Surveying is considered as the top ten most available careers – as stated in a British newspaper. 
In India, Quantity Surveying is counted as a thriving profession. With the quantum of construction projects coming up over the next 10 years – there is a huge demand for professional quantity surveyors to augment the profession. The annual demand for QS is expected to reach 97,000 by 2020. 
 
However, there is a major skills gap in this profession as many Quantity Surveyors or estimators were previously planners, or project managers, or some other role, and do not have the solid estimator experience or the required skillset that one looks for and this calls for the profession to be specialized. 

Quantity Surveyors can be engaged in the following areas:-
- Public sector and government parastatal
- Private sector with consulting firms
- Building and civil engineering contractors
- Financiers and property developers
- Project management firm



Who can pursue QS as a profession? 
 
Traditionally, quantity surveying was undertaken by civil engineers who multi task while undertaking quantity surveying activities. Drawings prepared by architects and civil engineers are then shared with QS professionals who prepare the Bill of Quantity (BOQ) who further plans construction costs, prepares contracts and manages the entire project until it’s completion. 
 
In today’s times, the roles demand to be more specific. A civil engineer’s role ends after preparing the structural design of the project and they do not require being involved in cost planning. 
 
To specialize in this profession, basic understanding of buildings and construction space is important. Most post graduate degrees in QS require engineering degree (preferably civil/mechanical) or bachelors in real estate/construction or architecture or planning degree as a pre-requisite.

People who have a commerce, finance or economics background in the real estate sector can also apply for this field. Many students who have science or arts in School may also apply depending on their intent to do well in the sector. 
 
The scope of work is much wider for a Quantity Surveyor instead of a civil engineer and with a QS degree; the opportunities double up as many cost management firms shop for a qualified QS professional. 
 
Preferred skill sets for this field are - strong negotiation skills for maximum cost cutting on the project, settling claims wherever required, rapport building skills to connect and select the right contractors, awareness on local building laws and keen eye for detail to finalize contract, optimizing resources as per requirement, focused so as to draft periodical financial reports, strong inherent ability to minimizing overall project costs. 
 
What employers look for in a QS, is an individual who can not only price a tender, but also understand how to add value to the bid and model efficiencies that can be gained across the term of the contract. This is seen as a specialist role of someone who understands estimating and understands that they are providing a service; has a logical way of thinking; creative bent towards problem solving; ability to write precise financial reports; effective team building skills; ability to motivate team and a broad array of knowledge of construction technology, materials and the legal matters. 



Specialized education for QS in India 
 
People interested to explore the profession may note that the industry is looking for professionals with specialized or formal education.
 
To promote more and more trained QS professionals in India, RICS SBE offers the first post-graduate degree program in this field - MBA in Construction Economics & Quantity Surveying - in India. In this program, students are primed by experts to understand process, technology and people issues for achieving project success. 
 
Post completion of the course, students will get assured job opportunities in private practicing firms, government departments, and/or public and private dealing with construction projects or establish independent practice gaining sufficient experience over the years. 
 
For those of you who like to impart knowledge, can also teach in educational institutions which focus on promoting the field. Many global opportunities are also available for this high demand profession.  
 

Two minutes with a quantity surveyor

Sobha Rani MRICS

Sobha Rani

The growth in construction industry gives a positive outlook to cost consulting services.

Founder and Director of QSigma Cost Consultants