Quantity Surveyor vs Civil Engineer I Which Construction Profession Should You Peruse?

If you already work in construction, you might have noticed that some of the more Senior Quantity Surveyors started off their careers as Civil Engineers.

This tends to spark questions such as;

“Are the skills in these jobs transferable?”

“Are their job roles similar in any way”

“I wonder if there’s a difference in salary?”

In this article, we will explain the roles of a QS & a Civil Engineer, the differences in salary and hopefully help you gain a better understanding of each role.

So, let’s start by giving you a definition of the roles:

A Quantity Surveyor is a professional within the construction industry, concerned with cost, procurement, and contracts. To make it even more simple, the main reason a company would hire a quantity surveyor is to accurately manage the cost on a project.

A Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings, and railways.

So, here’s the first difference. A QS is focussed on the cost and value of a project and a construction manager is focussed on the design, construction & maintenance

You’re probably wondering what a day in the life of a QS & Civil Engineer is like too.

A normal day for a Quantity Surveyor may include;

  • Estimating or forecasting the cost of labour, plant, and material required for a project
  • Preparing tender documents, contracts, budgets, bills of quantities and other documentation
  • Tracking changes to the design or method of working and adjusting budget projections accordingly
  • Procuring or agreeing on the services of contractors or subcontractors who work on the construction of the project
  • Measuring and valuing the work completed on-site
  • Issuing payments to subcontractors
  • Liaising with the client and other construction professionals, such as site managers, project managers and site engineers
  • Selecting and sourcing construction materials

A normal day for a Civil Engineer may include [1]:

  • Undertaking technical and feasibility studies including site investigations
  • Using a range of computer software for developing detailed designs
  • Undertaking complex calculations
  • Liaising with clients and a variety of professionals including architects and subcontractors
  • Compiling job specs and supervising tendering procedures
  • Resolving design and development problems
  • Managing budgets and project resources
  • Scheduling material and equipment purchases and deliveries
  • Making sure the project complies with legal requirements, especially health and safety
  • Assessing the sustainability and environmental impact of projects
  • Ensuring projects run smoothly and structures are completed within budget and on time

Finally we’ll talk about salaries:

The average salary of an experienced Civil Engineer is between £35,000 – £45,000 and the average salary of an experienced Quantity Surveyor is £40,000 – £50,000. As with all careers, there are roles above and below these positions such as an trainee civil engineer and trainee QS at £21k & £22k respectively.

Why not watch our video on this topic?


1. https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/job-descriptions/civil-engineer-job-description#:~:text=They%20plan%2C%20design%20and%20oversee,and%20water%20and%20sewerage%20systems.

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