How to Become a Building Surveyor

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Building surveyors play a fundamental role in the construction industry. Whether you are planning to build or renovate residential, commercial or industrial building, hiring a building surveyor to provide professional advice throughout the construction contributes to the successful completion of the project. To pursue a career in surveying, you must acquire the right knowledge, possess superior mathematical skills and a knack for sophisticated technologies.

The role

Although building surveyors work in a wide variety of construction settings, their roles commonly involve the following tasks:

  • Assessing the condition of existing buildings to determine their safety, and the amount of renovation required.
  • Compiling renovation reports and providing appropriate recommendations to building owners and property developers.
  • Collaborating with architects and construction managers to develop building blueprints and construction budgets and timelines.
  • Providing advice on sustainable construction, such as conserving energy and reducing environmental pollution.
  • Obtaining relevant building permits and licenses from regulatory agencies.
  • Informing property owners on boundary rights and negotiating legal disputes that might arise.

Education and training

To qualify for employment as a building surveyor, you typically need to complete the following steps:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree in building surveying from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology in the U.S., or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in the U.K. Other closely related degrees include civil engineering, building engineering and construction science.
  • U.S. graduates must secure a license to practice in their states. Although licensure requirements vary by state, you generally need a degree, experience working under a licensed surveyor and to pass a certification exam.

Top schools

Pursuing your education in a top college or university not only exposes you to the most sought after instructors, but also enhances your professional standing. In the U.S, the best schools to pursue a surveying degree include:

  • Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport, PA
  • Troy University, Troy, AL
  • University of Maine, Orono, ME
  • St. Cloud State University, Saint Cloud, MN
  • College of Estate Management, Berkshire

Essential skills

Having the right education alone may not make you a successful surveyor. Possessing the required jobs skills completes the puzzle. Building surveyors need the following skills and abilities:

  • Technical skills to interact with and operate a wide array of surveying equipment.
  • Communication skills to exchange information with property developers, building owners and construction staff in a clear and understandable manner.
  • Problem-solving skills to provide effective solution to challenges that arise during the project, such as violation of construction codes.
  • Detail oriented to compile accurate reports and physical stamina because they often work in rugged terrains with harsh weather conditions.

Salary and job growth

In the U.K, beginning building surveyors earn an average annual salary of £18,000 to £20,000 while experienced surveyors can earn upwards of £23,000, according to the National Career Services. On the other hand, surveyors in the U.S working in architectural and engineering services earned a mean annual wage of $54,430 as of May 2012, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Due to increased construction activities, the employment of surveyors in the U.S. will grow by 10 percent from 2012 through 2022, just about as quick as the average for all occupations.

Career development

What does it take to get ahead in a building surveyor career? Pursuing a master’s degree in building survey improves your suitability for senior positions and entrance into professional organizations such as the Royal Institute of Building Surveyors to network with industry leaders.

Top employers and work environment

Most building surveyors work for private surveying firms, construction firms, government agencies, or engineering firms. Although work environment varies by organization, they usually do both field work and office work between 9am and 5pm. Field work involves measuring distances and inspecting buildings while office work involves compiling reports.