Do you enjoy working with numbers? Do you pay close attention to detail? Do you enjoy negotiating and analysing and solving problems? Are you good at meeting deadlines?
Perhaps you have what it takes to be a quantity surveyor (QS)!
What does a quantity surveyor do?
Quantity surveyors are called on to work alongside architects, engineers, planners and contractors in the development and construction of almost any industrial or community project that needs careful planning and programming.
Architects and engineers are responsible for the design aspects of construction projects, contractors are responsible for the construction of those projects, and quantity surveyors are responsible for the accurate planning and control of expenditure. A QS’s skills are essential for the financial viability of the project, especially as costs keep on rising.
There are a range of roles that a QS might play in relation to the development of a project:
● A QS researches, estimates and collates the costs of a proposed project. They prepare budgets and calculate whether the project is financially feasible.
● A QS prepares tender documentation to assist with tendering for a project.
● A QS helps to negotiate and draft contract documents.
● A QS monitors the costs during the design and construction of a project.
● A QS calculates the final costs of a project.
What might a typical day involve?
As a QS, your typical day might involve: office or on-site meetings; telephone calls and emails with architects, engineers, building contractors and clients; preparing tender documents; preparing or checking calculations for estimates, monthly reports or final accounts.
Who uses the services of a QS?
As a QS, you can find work with government and many financial institutions, as well as in many industries, for example:
● property development companies
● construction companies
● mining companies
● electrical engineering companies
● mechanical engineering companies
● companies involved in infrastructure development e.g. airports, shipbuilding, motor industry, power stations
Quantity surveyors are needed all over the world; it’s a career that offers the opportunity to travel.
Amber Solomons from FunDza, interviewed quantity surveyor Warrick Drennen. Here’s what he had to say:
Why did you decide to study quantity surveying?
In my matric year I was struggling with my decision of what to study, going from architect, civil engineer, accountant, etc. All my choices involved working with numbers, as I enjoy working with them. In conversation with a family friend, I was told of quantity surveying. I did some research on the career, and liked what I read, so I applied to study to become a quantity surveyor.
What qualities as a person do you need to become a quantity surveyor?
I would say the qualities that would be a benefit for a person to have, that would help them with being a quantity surveyor, is:
● Being able to work under stressful situations
● Good at problem solving and practically thinking through situations
● Organized and follow instructions well
● Communicate well, by reporting or talking
What do you enjoy about your job?
I enjoy working with numbers, using the drawing and calculating the cost of the construction. Seeing the designs come to life, watching the construction take place and become the finished product.
What are the challenges as a quantity surveyor?
The main challenge is the stress that comes with the project. Some projects can add up to millions of rands, and it is the quantity surveyor’s responsibility to manage the clients budget, ensuring that there are no cost overruns.
Another challenge is working with difficult contractors, especially around the time when payments are due. With some contractors, they will argue to get money that they are not necessarily due at that time, wanting to be paid in advance (which isn’t a norm).
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a quantity surveyor?
My advice would be to work hard, understand what you are getting into. A lot of the time people have a misunderstanding of what they are getting into. The best approach is to contact firms and ask to shadow them. This will give you a good idea of what you will do as a quantity surveyor.
Still interested..?! Here are more details:
What qualifications does a QS need?
You need a matric exemption, with good results in core mathematics (not maths literacy), physical science, and English (home language or first additional language). To attend a university, you will need an application point score (APS) of 28 to 36.
Quantity surveying is a challenging career, and so is earning the qualifications you need. Expect to work hard, and to give most of your attention to your studies. It’s very important to manage your time well.
There are different routes into the career.
1. You can do a two-year correspondence course and qualify as a quantity surveying assistant.
2. You can do a three-year University of Technology diploma, followed by a further year of study, which will earn you a B-Tech degree.
3. You can start with a degree, diploma or professional qualification in the following areas: surveying, construction, civil engineering, structural engineering.
For options 2 and 3, you will also need to complete two or three years of practical work under a qualified quantity surveyor. Then, if you pass a professional ability test, you can register with the South African Council for Quantity Surveyors.
4. You can do a four or five-year university degree course, beginning with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) and then specialising in quantity surveying.
Are you ambitious? Then follow the ladder to the top: student QS ► Junior QS ► QS ► Senior QS ► Professional QS.
Where can you study to become a quantity surveyor?
You can study at the following universities, click on the links to find out the details:
● Free State University: (this is the only SA institution that offers a distant learning course)
● Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
● North West University (Potchefstroom Campus)
● Stellenbosch University
● University of Cape Town
● University of Johannesburg
● University of Pretoria
● University of the Witwatersrand
You can also study at several universities of technology. For a full list of accredited tertiary institutions, click on this link
There are other non-accredited tertiary institutions that also offer quantity surveying programmes. You can call the offices of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) for details: 011 315 4140.
There are many bursaries on offer. To explore these, read about them here.
and scroll down to quantity surveying bursaries for 2021 and 2022.
You can read more about quantity surveying here:
● Association of South African Quantity Surveyors
● The SA Council for the Quantity Surveying Profession
● Quantity Surveying as a career
● Fundi Connect https
● Quantity Surveyors figure it out