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Careers In Surveying: A Guide to the Different Pathways

Explore the surveying roles you could specialise in - from quantity to the lesser known arts and antiques.

No matter where you live, surveying is recognised as a worthwhile, rewarding career.  

From overseeing construction on football stadiums to maintaining historic buildings or ensuring minerals are sustainably sourced, there are lots of different specialist surveyor out there. This means there are also plenty of opportunities to find a career path that plays to your passions and strengths.  

Below, we take a closer look at some of careers in surveying that are available.


Construction and Built Environment Career Paths

Building Scaffolding


Quantity Surveying

Quantity surveyors are the financial experts of construction, responsible for managing the monetary aspects of building and civil engineering projects. Careers in quantity surveying involve managing cash flows, making sure jobs are completed within budget, risk/value analysis reports and much more. They are also involved in the contractual aspects of construction, such as the preparation of tenders, arranging subcontractors and suppliers and advising on contractual claims for completed projects. If you love working with numbers, a quantity surveying career could be for you. 

Read our tips about breaking into quantity surveying.

Construction Project Management  

Hiring labourers, ordering the right materials, managing risks, monitoring spend - during any construction project, big or small, there’s a lot to consider. A construction project management professional draws up timelines and does everything they can to keep people on track and hitting those all important deadlines. Strong people-management and organisational skills are a must for this role, as well as having a deep understanding of how the construction industry operates. 

Building Surveying

In a nutshell, building surveyors are responsible for assessing the quality of our buildings, ensuring they are fit for purpose and sustainable. Working on heritage, properties as well as new ones, they carry out structural and internal inspections then advise on restoration, repairs or tips for maintenance. They may also be called in to provide guidance on planning permission applications and more. If you don’t fancy spending all of your time at a desk, this is a great opportunity; you’ll be spending plenty of time working on different sites. 

Discover more about what a building surveyor does.

Infrastructure Surveying

Having reliable infrastructures in place across a town, city or nation is vital. And, as our world changes and grows, it’s becoming ever more important to have skilled professionals in place to manage them. 

Working across transportation, communications, water or electricity, infrastructure surveyors are instrumental in ensuring these systems are established and maintained effectively wherever they are needed. If you like helping to shape the bigger picture, it may be worth taking a closer look at this pathway.  


Real Estate and Property Surveyor Career Paths


Commercial Property / Real Estate Surveying

A commercial property (or real estate) surveyor buys, sells, manages and leases premises intended for business use, such as public buildings, corporate offices or retail centres. Keeping a close eye on fluctuating property markets, they may spend their days valuing properties, assessing the viability of commercial construction projects, negotiating rents, managing portfolios on behalf of clients and beyond. It’s also not uncommon for people to specialise in one of these areas. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial streak and you’re driven to achieve results, as well as good at building relationships, you’ll thrive in this field.

Residential / Housing Surveying

Like their commercial property counterparts, residential surveyors also buy, sell, manage and lease properties. The difference, however, is that the properties they deal with are for residential use. Typical responsibilities include carrying out valuations, advising clients on properties, managing residential properties and performing mortgage evaluation reports. This could be your chance to help people get on or move up (and down) the property ladder ‒ some of life’s biggest moments.

Arts and Antiques Surveying

Perhaps one of the lesser known surveying fields (but no less interesting!) an arts and antiques surveyor advises clients on the valuation, sale, care and restoration of personal property. The could find themselves advising owners on how to look after a historic piece of pottery or how much to pay for a curious artefact displayed at an auction. With this niche role, a passion for history is a must-have.

Facilities Management

If you’ve ever worked in an office, the chances are that you’ll know what a facilities management team does. According to the International Facility Management Association, ‘facilities management (FM) is a profession that encompasses multiple disciplines to ensure functionality, comfort, safety and efficiency of the built environment by integrating people, place and technology’.  Facilities management surveying professionals, therefore, make sure an organisation’s most valuable assets are set up to allow staff to work safely and productively. If you fancy becoming an integral part of workplace strategy, helping to drive employee engagement and retain the best talent, FM is worth investigating. 


Land Surveyor Career Paths

Flats and Houses

Planning and Development Surveying

According to RICS, “planning and development surveyors play a vital role in identifying and promoting effective land management and administration as one of the primary drivers behind sustainable development”. They provide expert consultancy services on every aspect of planning/development and give clients – who may include local or national government bodies, private property companies or industrial land owners – the information needed to make informed decisions about whether to invest in a project. Their work influences the physical aspects of the built environment and touches on the socio-economic and environmental aspects too. If you’re interested in policy as well as the operational side of surveying, this may be a path to consider.

Environmental Surveying

The impact humans have on our natural environment is one of the most talked about topics today. All surveyors need to be mindful of the effects their work could have on our environment. However, environmental surveyors are explicitly focused on assessing, monitoring, and managing the development and use of land/buildings from an environmental perspective. They may be involved in the planning permit process, as well as carrying out environmental audits, risk management assessments (flood, pollution, fire) and asbestos surveys. This career path would suit anyone looking to help protect our planet.

Geomatic Surveying

Sometimes known as land surveyors, geomatic surveyors collect and analyse data about space as part of engineering, mapmaking and construction projects. Recognised as one of the fastest expanding global careers, it involves using cutting-edge technology and skills such as photogrammetry. You’ll also need an understanding of the built, social and economic environment of an area in order to make judgements about whether they are suitable for construction plans. They may also help to map the shape of land too. This is one of the most advanced branches of surveying, meaning a love of technology and science is necessary. 

Minerals Surveying

Minerals such as coal and oil are essential for modern living. However, accessing them requires sensitive planning in order to minimise disruption to our natural world. Working as part of both the construction and energy and utilities industries, minerals surveyors assess the commercial viability of mining or quarrying sites and offer advice on legal contracts and the environmental impact of such projects. They conduct surveys, manage and develop sites and record the amount of minerals extracted from them. Once extraction is complete, they also work with other professionals to redevelop, or restore, the land. A lesser known sector, but an incredibly worthwhile and rewarding career for those with an interest in the environment.


Ready to Build Your Future?

We offer a number of different surveying degrees at Northumbria University,  each approved by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and offering the perfect entry point to many of the specialisms above. 

Find out more about the different RICS accredited degrees that we have available below.

Postgraduate degrees in surveying

Got an undergraduate degree in another subject but want a change in direction? Our distance learning Surveying Masters courses will help you to get the RICS accreditation needed to kickstart your career, while giving you the freedom to fit studying in around your life. 

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