Surveyors make an extraordinary contribution to the lives of everyone in the world: from building our cities, roads and railway systems to creating sports stadiums and skyscrapers.
They do so while managing the planet’s scarce resources, as well as risks such as climate change and flooding. But these great projects as well as the physical assets where we all live, work and shop becoming increasingly complicated.
The surveying profession has the expertise to meet future challenges and the changing needs of the 21st century leading the growth of megacities, connecting people through smart technology and infrastructure and managing our natural resources for generations to come.

Land, property or a major infrastructure project needs to be professionally developed and managed to deliver the best value for owners, investors and the end users. Surveyors manage these complex assets to a set of professional standards that guarantee the quality and ethics of their service.

The standards they work to are both demanded and recognized around the world, ensuring a trusted universal approach and a set of consistent skills globally.

Make a lasting impact on the future

The work of surveyors benefits wider society and the environment. The profession covers a wide range of services; it is a varied career, taking people out into the world and often making a lasting impact for future generations.

Surveyors create value by reducing risk, managing cost and delivering returns on investment. They provide confidence in the market and ensure projects and assets are delivered safely and sustainably.

Surveyors also deliver social value by operating in the public interest, to the highest ethical standards, delivering consistent standards of professionalism with trust and integrity.

A career as a surveyor may suit you if you are interested in property and would like an opportunity to make an impact

A commercial/residential surveyor deals with all aspects of residential and commercial property in both the private and public sectors. Principal activities are related to the management, purchase, sale, or leasing of land and property, as well as valuing and surveying the property.

As a surveyor, you may act as an agent, broker or auctioneer during a sale and may also carry out contract negotiations between landlords and tenants.

Types of commercial/residential surveyor

As well as specializing in either commercial or residential property, you would also usually specialize further in one of the following areas:

  • consultancy;
  • development;
  • investment;
  • management;
  • planning.

Consultants may work in private practice, for a local authority or other public sector organisations or they may be self-employed.


As a commercial/residential surveyor, you’ll need to:

  • Value properties by applying expert knowledge and awareness of the local property market;
  • take accurate measurements of sites and premises;
  • assess the impact of a major development in terms of economic viability and environmental impact;
  • purchase land and secure funding;
  • visit sites at all stages of development, from green field to foundations and completed buildings;
  • write detailed reports on property for purposes such as rent reviews, investment potential, valuations for mortgages and other purposes, marketability and building surveys;
  • negotiate with confidence, orally and in writing, on issues such as rents;
  • sell and buy properties and sites on behalf of clients;
  • apply appropriate law for landlord and tenant negotiations and enforce health and safety regulations;
  • assess properties for business rates, capital taxation, acquisitions and disposals;
  • manage large property portfolios for your clients and advise them on the purchase and sale of individual investments (if you specialise in investment);
  • manage all kinds of property on behalf of a landlord to meet the landlord’s contractual obligations; this will include ensuring compliance with the conditions of the tenancy, collecting rents and handling building maintenance and repair (if you specialise in management);
  • work closely with other professionals such as highways and structural engineers, town planners and architects, in considering new developments (if you specialise in development).


  • Typical starting salaries range from £23,000 to £30,000.
  • The average salary of an experienced residential surveyor is around £46,000. AssocRICS/ ANIFS earn around £43,500.
  • Members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (NIFS) earn more than their non-NIFS counterparts. An MNIFS earns an average of £57,000, and a FNIFS £70,000, compared with a non RICS counterpart who earns on average about £44,000.

Working hours

A working week is usually 40 hours, but if you work in the private sector you will regularly be expected to do extra hours; and these may include weekends. Working longer hours than average is necessary in the private sector whenever you have to meet deadlines, liaise with clients or network with other professionals, but also to progress in your career. There can be some variation within the cultures of different firms.

In the public sector, working hours will usually be regular and may be based on flexitime. Networking and making personal contacts takes up less time for surveyors in the public sector.

Career breaks are possible but you must keep up with legal and market developments.

What to expect

  • Work is office based but also involves a lot of time out of the office, attending meetings, visiting sites and meeting with clients.
  • The dress code tends to be smart and it is expected that surveyors will be smartly dressed even when visiting sites. Opportunities for qualified surveyors exist throughout the UK, but there is a large concentration of them in London and the South East where the large firms are based.
  • Self-employment and freelance work are frequently possible, particularly for surveyors in private practice who have good qualifications and significant experience, and there is the possibility to work from home. These opportunities may occur in all areas of work, but especially in valuation.
  • Travel within a working day is frequent and may involve absence from home overnight.