Quantity surveying job

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Jane Booth works with the rail and tunnels team of the terminal 5 project at Heathrow airport. The rail work for the project involves the extension of both the London Underground Piccadilly line and the Heathrow Express railway to the new terminal due to open in early 2008.

What is your job on the project?

I am a graduate quantity surveyor and my job is to assist with the commercial management of the project. Much of the actual construction work is undertaken by subcontractors and part of my job involves placing subcontract orders. These state in detail the work that has to be done. I am also responsible for issuing variation orders if additional work is required and issuing payments to them when the work is completed.

I have to do monthly financial reporting which includes financial planning and forecasting and this brings me into contact with people from numerous disciplines and backgrounds both on the project and at head office.

Do you have a typical day?

There is never a typical day on the project and this is one of the major benefits of the job. At present, the project is still in the design phase so there is limited opportunity for site work but as the project enters the main construction phase next year I expect more involvement with the engineers and operatives on site. This will be an exciting experience on the largest construction project in the UK.

What was your route into quantity surveying?

I became involved in quantity surveying after learning about the training scheme offered by Balfour Beatty Rail Projects. Also, it certainly seemed to be a thriving industry with heavy investment offering numerous opportunities. I did not need previous work experience in quantity surveying, although my university studies in business management are proving very useful.

So you knew nothing about surveying?

That's right. However, one of the attractive aspects of the package offered was sponsorship to study part-time for a Masters qualification in quantity surveying. Again. my main concern was that I had no technical knowledge and I felt that in such an environment this might be a serious disadvantage. Studying for my MSc helped me gain the basic ground knowledge of the discipline required through completing numerous construction- and surveying-based modules.

Are you still being trained?

Yes. In addition to on-the-job coaching I receive a lot of assistance. We are all trained on Terminal 5-specific software packages. All graduates undertake regular graduate reviews where quantity surveyors are integrated with engineers for training purposes.

What do you like best about your quantity surveying job?

Quantity surveying includes many commercial disciplines such as purchasing law and accounting and the variety of work and the mix between office work and the practical aspects of the role suits my temperament. It is a steep learning curve but certainly provides a challenge.

What are the skills and qualities needed?

An ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team and be prepared to carry out a wide range of tasks is important. Good communication, organisational and numerical skills are essential together with computer literacy and a willingness to understand the technical aspects involved in the job.

Jane's quantity surveying job tips

  • Be prepared to be mobile.
  • Expect to be offered lots of training and take full advantage of the opportunity.

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Quantity surveying job salary information

  • Graduate first salaries vary from about £15,500 to £22,000
  • Senior quantity surveyors can earn between £31,000 and £37,000.
  • Top salaries can exceed £60,000.

Getting a quantity surveying job

  • There are many routes into quantity surveying. Jane used a general business degree to gain entry and has to learn the surveying aspect of the work on-the-job.
  • The alternative is to work towards a surveying qualification and then obtain the business experience.
  • A Modern Apprenticeship with a construction company studying for NVQ/SVQs, or entering the industry as a graduate trainee, are other possible entry routes.
  • The work is very maths and accounting related so qualifications in that area would also form the basis for entry.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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