Quantity Surveyor, Land Surveyor or Estimator – What Path Will You Take?

The construction industry can be overwhelming. With vast amounts of different job titles, sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between them. In this article we will be looking into the differences between a Quantity Surveyor, Land Surveyor and Estimator. We’ll look into what each career path entails, training required and the potential salary prospects.

Quantity Surveyor

A Quantity Surveyor is heavily involved in the financial side of a project. Their skills are required right at the start of a project and will continue managing the financial aspect all the way to final account. The main tasks of a quantity surveyor as follows but not limited to:

· Setting project budgets, estimates and whole life cost forecasts

· Preparing documents such as conditions of contracts and bill of quantities used for procurement of subcontractors

· Forecasting project cost to completion

· Internal and External Valuation of work carried out

· Cost Value Reconciliation

· Cash Flow Management

· Variations

· And finally, final accounts

Typically a quantity surveyor will require a bachelor’s degree, which can take 3-years to obtain full-time or 5-years part-time if you’re learning on the job as an apprentice or trainee. Once fully qualified a Quantity Surveyor can expect to earn a salary of £35- £60k depending on experience, location and sector of construction.

Land Surveyor

A Land Surveyor has a very different job to a quantity surveyor. Land surveying involves gathering information about a specific area of land prior to, during or after a construction project. Methods for collecting data include, satellite photos, GPS, digital images and surveying instruments. This data is collected and used with Geographic Information Systems for analysis. The purpose of a land surveyor is as follows:

· Gathering data for civil engineering and construction projects to ensure accurate site plans can be drawn

· Producing maps using collected data

· Establishing the effect of construction on the environment

· Monitoring whether land has moved during construction or by natural process

Same as the quantity surveyor the land surveyor will require a bachelor’s degree obtained by either full time education or part-time education with on-the-job learning. Qualified, experienced Land surveyors can expect to earn between £25-£45k. However, this can increase to £70k with a more senior role.


Estimators are focused on estimating the cost required to carry out a construction project. This can be confusing as this is one of the responsibilities of a quantity surveyor. However, an estimator is much more specialised in this field. Often, contractors will have to bid for work in order to be awarded the contract for construction projects. In order to achieve this they’ll need to submit their price for how much they are willing to carry out the work for. As you can imagine this is an extremely important task, as if the price is too high, they may miss out on a lucrative opportunity. And if the price is too low, they may have just won themselves a project which is going to have devastating financial implications resulting in negative cashflow and an overall financial loss. It’s for this reasons construction companies will often employ a bid team, with the primary focus of determining what a project will cost, including a reasonable margin, formulating a desirable bid for a client. The bid team will contain estimators which will use their skills and expertise to help formalise the financial element of this bid package.

To become an estimator you’ll be required to obtain at least a HND or Higher National Diploma or a bachelor’s degree using the part-time or full-time path. Once fully qualified, experienced estimators can expect to earn between £30-£50k depending on location and sector.

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