Commercial, residential or rural surveyor
Building Planning & Surveying

Commercial surveyors, residential surveyors and rural surveyors aim to make the most money possible from real estate or land, usually on behalf of clients who include:

  • the property or land's owners
  • individuals or companies looking to rent or purchase land or real estate
  • wealthy individuals or institutions who wish to invest in property

However, they may also work directly for a landowning organisation.

Commercial surveyors specialise in land or property intended for business use, which ranges from shops and offices to warehouses and depots; residential surveyors in land or property for living purposes; and rural surveyors in a combination of the two, often working on farmland and country estates. Find out more about the differences between working in commercial, residential and rural property.

Many commercial, residential and rural surveyors also specialise in a particular area or type of task within property, such as property development, valuation or agency (see the TARGETjobs overviews of the main specialist areas in property).

Work Activities

Depending on their specialist area, typical tasks for surveyors include:

  • measuring and valuing land and property
  • selling, letting, buying or renting property on behalf of clients
  • advising clients on the best type of property or location to meet their needs
  • advising clients on matters relating to business rates or, if you work for the government, setting business rates
  • advising clients on where to invest their money within property
  • overseeing property developments from an empty plot of land to fully operational buildings
  • obtaining planning permissions for planning developments
  • managing properties on behalf of clients

Much of the work involves giving advice, verbal or written, and building up a knowledge of the property markets within a certain geographic area. Surveyors are based in offices, but spend large amounts of time out visiting sites and/or clients. As such, they tend to work typical office hours but can spend time out of hours socialising with clients.

Read the TARGETjobs property salaries article to find out how much you could earn in commercial, residential or rural surveying.

Commercial/residential/rural surveyors can be known as general practice surveyors. However, they might also be known by the specialist function they work in, such as 'valuation surveyor' or 'investment'. In some organisations, they may be known as 'consultants' instead of surveyor and their job title might also convey their rank in their organisation of choice, eg 'trainee', 'associate' or 'partner'.

Learn more about working as a surveyor or planner specialised within the planning and development function.

Note: The job title 'surveyor' can mean different things in different industries and contexts; there are many types of surveyor. Other types of surveyors, doing different jobs, include:

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for commercial, residential and rural surveyors

  • Communication and influencing skills
  • Relationship-building abilities
  • Customer service and client management skills
  • Negotiation
  • Time management
  • Entrepreneurism
  • The drive to achieve results
  • Numeracy

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of surveyors

  • Large 'full service' property firms
  • Specialist chartered surveying or property management companies
  • House builders and property development companies
  • The Civil Service
  • Organisations that own, occupy, require or invest in large amounts of land, such as retailers, Network Rail, airports and utility companies

Vacancies are typically advertised on TARGETjobs, in TARGETjobs Property, by careers services, via recruitment agencies and through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).


Qualifications and training required

There are routes into surveying careers for both school leavers and graduates. School leavers will find that there are a few apprenticeships available, but that most entry-level jobs are aimed at university graduates.

Graduates will need:

  • either a bachelors degree in property, real estate, land management, surveying or similar that has been accredited by RICS
  • or a postgraduate conversion course in surveying – usually either a PgDip or masters – that has been accredited by RICS

Some property firms will hire undergraduates from any degree discipline and pay for them to complete the postgraduate course while working for them. Read the TARGETjobs advice on how to apply successfully to property firms with an unaccredited degree and getting them to sponsor you.

Graduate or apprentice surveyors will also be strongly encouraged to work towards chartership, RICS' professional qualification, while on the job. For graduates this usually takes between two and two-and-a-half years.

Most large property firms offer graduate schemes that rotate graduates around different departments while they are working towards chartership; other employers will keep graduates in one specialism but ensure they are exposed to a wide range of work needed to achieve chartership.

Getting work experience within property or with your local planning authority will give you an advantage during your graduate job hunt: discover when and how you can get work experience in the property industry.

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