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What surveyors do

What surveyors do

Surveyors shape the way we live. From our towns and cities to our streets and homes, they help create safer, better, happier communities.

Surveyors keep traffic flowing, water running and people moving. They shape our roads, bridges and tunnels, our skyscrapers, stations and stadiums. They work in mines and in fields, on cliffs and on beaches. They value the houses we live in and the places we work in. They create safer homes and happier communities. 

And they’re busy shaping our future too: helping to regenerate deprived areas and planning smart cities connected by the Internet of Things, while pioneering safer, more sustainable and more environmentally friendly building methods.

Surveyors work closely with a wide range of people: architects and engineers, bankers and ecologists, town planners and property developers. And they use the latest technologies: flying drones to map land and measure buildings, creating virtual reality models of buildings, and using Big Data to tackle global issues like climate change, migration and urbanisation.

There are more than 100 varied career roles across the surveying profession in three main sectors: construction and infrasructure; property; and land.

Laura Collins, Young Surveyor of the Year

I’m lead consultant on a project in Amsterdam for an Australian client: so, I’m liaising across time zones. I like getting out into the world. I find it fascinating to see how other countries approach construction and to expand my knowledge.

Read Laura's story

Construction and infrastructure careers

Making crucial decisions of what goes where and why, surveyors are involved in planning the construction of everything from skyscrapers to shopping centres and festivals to football stadiums. And the infrastructure that connects us relies on surveyors too: from our roads, bridges, and railways to our energy supplies and communication networks.

There will always be a need for buildings to live, work and play in, but with Earth’s resources becoming ever-more scarce, there is a huge opportunity for surveyors to play key roles in sustainable development.

Richard Serra MRICS
Head of Planning, Tottenham Hotspur FC

Surveying roles in construction and infrastructure

  • Building surveyors help create and supervise everything from towering skyscrapers to simple home extensions.
  • Project management surveyors run teams to deliver projects on time and on budget.
  • Quantity surveyors assess the financial impact and profitability of construction projects.
  • Building control surveyors design and manage the use of buildings to make sure they comply with laws and regulations.
  • Infrastructure surveyors ensure the effective running and connecting of cities, including rail, road, broadband and electricity.

I act as a consultant on the costing and budgeting for new building projects. My role needs all sorts of skills, from finance and project management to communication and teamwork, to get the building from the page to being physically built. The opportunities in this industry are endless.

Richard Owen
Quantity surveyor and Business Management graduate

Property careers

Property surveyors work in housing, business property and even personal property, such as antiques and fine art. They buy and rent homes and offices, acquire land for property development and value everything from possessions to skyscrapers.

I work across the UK and Europe with valuation portfolios in excess of £1billion, providing essential advice to banks, fund managers and property companies.

Stephen Todd
Valuation surveyor

Surveying roles in property 

  • Property surveyors value, sell, rent and manage all types of housing and businesses, from offices to shops and restaurants.
  • Valuation surveyors analyse and measure the value of buildings or businesses: for example, how much is Google actually worth?
  • Management consultancy surveyors maximise business performance by running operations, strategies and structures.
  • Facilities management surveyors add value to businesses by creating vibrant, productive workplaces.

Construction underpins every other business on this planet. For example, in the context of climate change, cement manufacture accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions. If we addressed that, we could make a huge difference.

We don’t want the best talent to go into law or banking, come and shape the world we live in.

Fred Mills
The B1M – the world’s most popular construction video channel

Land careers

From coastal erosion and flood defences to town and environmental planning, land surveyors play a huge role in how we live. And, with climate change and resource scarcity becoming ever-more important issues, land surveyors will have an even greater role in shaping the future.

I use cutting-edge technology on a daily basis, like flying drones to capture ultra-high accuracy aerial photogrammetry. Geospatial surveying is at the forefront of the profession and it’s really growing, so there are huge opportunities to work in the UK and abroad.

Charlton Bland
Geospatial surveyor

Surveying roles in land 

  • Geomatics surveyors map, analyse and interpret spatial data and information about the land, sea and buildings.
  • Environmental surveyors manage the development and use of land to minimise the impact on the environment.
  • Minerals and waste surveyors extract, mine, use and manage natural resources and then plan the disposal of related waste.
  • Rural surveyors value and manage the use of land and buildings in the countryside.
  • Planning and development surveyors help create the towns and cities of the future, ensuring happier, healthier communities.

Richard Serra and the new Spurs stadium

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The new Tottenham Hotspur stadium has a capacity of more than 62,000 and features a retractable pitch
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The stadium development has created 2,000 full-time local jobs

I chose a career in the built environment to make positive change and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a building through from the first concept sketches to seeing it occupied and enjoyed.

Read Richard's story

Surveying: a high-tech career

Technology is transforming the world and surveyors work with many of the latest innovations – from drones to augmented reality, artificial intelligence and even 3D-printed buildings:

  • Internet of Things – smart objects, sensors and big data help to plan and manage intelligent cities with less pollution, better public space and more connected communities
  • AI and virtual reality – artificial intelligence helps create augmented reality, 3D models allowing people to tour buildings or inspect construction sites virtually
  • mobile mapping – specialist drones, ground penetrating radar and laser scanners enable surveyors to map and analyse anywhere on Earth.