QS Careers

NZIQS would like to thank CIQS - Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors for allowing us to share this video about what a QS does

Quantity surveyors work in all kinds of construction projects - from major projects like buildings, hospitals and high-rises to bridges, roads and tunnels and houses.

Broadly speaking, their role is to keep projects to budget and on time.  

Read about job prospects as a Quantity Surveyor - MBIE 

What could you do as a Quantity Surveyor?

Your work could include giving advice on construction costs, setting budgets for construction projects, and recording and managing these costs. You could measure progress on site and measure construction quantities. (This is why the field is called ‘quantity surveying’.)

You could find yourself quantifying and costing the construction of all types of building and engineering works for feasibility studies; preparing tenders and tender documentation; managing contract cost through to final account; valuing for insurance and/or asset life planning purposes, rental reviews, maintenance and tax schedules; assisting with adjudication, litigation and arbitration processes and as expert witnesses; and performing many management roles in construction-related activities.

You could work:

  • for a building contractor
  • for a quantity surveying consulting company
  • for a construction material supplier
  • for a subcontractor
  • as a project manager
  • in a bank, insurance, finance company, government department, tertiary education provider or for a developer
  • as a dispute resolution expert

The skills that quantity surveyors need

You’ll need to know about building methods and materials. You will need to be able to interpret building plans, and estimate costs for a project’s building, material and labour costs. You’ll need good maths, basic accounting, and IT skills. And you’ll need to keep up to date with relevant legislation and local by-laws.

You'll also need to be able to think logically and analytically to solve problems. 

You’ll need ‘people’ skills as well—being a good communicator with negotiation and relationship management skills.

Quantity Surveyors talk about their career

Listen to young quantity surveying professionals talk about why they chose QS as a career, what they do in their jobs and what they like about their career. They also give advice to people considering studying QS and what subjects they should study at school.


Here are just a handful of profiles from talented members of NZIQS. Each of them share a bit about their career highlights, achievements and how they became a Quantity Surveyor, plus much more. Click on the profile you would like to read.

I love working as a QS...Working on the Waikato Hospital Clinical Centre has been a career highlight for me due to the huge scale and complexity of the project – I can’t wait for the next big project!


Leah Gartner

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Why did you choose Quantity Surveying as a career?

It was really through a random set of circumstances: I wasn't sure what career path to take after leaving school. I started working in administration at a building company and at 18 in my first full-time job with no qualifications, decided I would ask my boss for a pay increase. He advised me that I needed an education to get better pay and suggested quantity surveying. I enrolled in a quantity surveying course shortly after that advice.

Where/What have you studied?

Wintec (Hamilton) and Unitec (Auckland) for my National Diploma in Quantity Surveying. Both courses were structured to enable students to work in the industry while studying at the same time. This suited me perfectly as I was employed as a QS in Hamilton and then Auckland while completing my studies. The Diploma course is for two years full-time which is achievable even when working full-time.

What are some of your achievements as a QS?

Negotiating the final account for a $150M project was quite an achievement (and a relief after it was done). Preparing quantum evidence for a leaky building High Court case. Presenting to Young QS Group in Hong Kong at the PAQS Congress.

What do you enjoy about being a QS?

I love working as a QS and have found that a huge part of the industry is about people and relationships, I feel this is something that I have always excelled at. It also helps being strong in mathematics and being detail orientated.

Would you recommend QS as a career to others? Why?

Quantity Surveying is definitely an option for someone who is interested in construction, good with numbers, details and people and enjoys varied work both within an office and on-site. It offers a solid career path on a decent salary and because there are always construction hotspots somewhere in the world e.g. preparing for sports events etc. Also the opportunity to travel.

What is it like being one of the few women who are QS's?

It was tough in the beginning but I now see it as more of a positive challenge than anything. I don’t fit the traditional stereotype of a QS and that can mean that sometimes people don’t expect you to know what you are talking about. I’m now used to being the youngest and the only female at the table. The way I see it is that the days of the ‘typical client’ being a senior man in a suit are over. We now have more females in construction/development at the top table and in project management, architecture, engineering which to me means that there is more opportunity for females to become QS’s and relate to the ‘new generation’ of clients.

What advice can you give other females who are/want to become QS's?

Don’t let the gender imbalance scare you away! I think being a female in construction gives you a competitive advantage that can be positive rather than negative and I also believe that the demographics of quantity surveying are slowly changing in NZ. Build a network of people who support you, particularly people in senior roles who can mentor you and provide advice.

What do you get out of being a NZIQS member?

The opportunity to attend amazing events, being connected to a national and international network of QS's which you can call upon for support and advice, the opportunity to have your say and make changes in the industry and profession, and being kept up-to-date about any changes in the industry that affect me.

The British Navy once had a recruitment drive with the slogan “join the Navy and see the world”; you could say the same now about QS’s!


Ben Rowley

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Why did you choose Quantity Surveying as a career?

If I’m honest, when I left school I had never heard of a QS & I fell into the role purely by chance. At 17 (after I realised my forward defensive stroke did not make the grade and my aspirations of being a professional cricketer dashed) I had no real idea of what career path to take. A trip to the local Job Centre and next day I had an interview with a local Joinery Contractor (G.F. Interiors Ltd of Brighouse, thanks guys!) and the day following I was sat behind my own desk carrying out take-offs, making cups of tea for my manager and of course, photocopying and filing! Why I chose QS as a permanent career came a few years later when I understood the potentials of the profession and the variety of the role itself. Building sites, office work and being part of a team were enough to set the path forward. At no point all those years ago did I realise exactly how varied this role can be!

How long have you been a QS?

I started my QS career in 1994, so I’m well into in my 21st years being a Quantity Surveyor. 11 years in the UK, 8 years in NZ and now into my 3rd year in the Middle East.

What are some of your achievements as a QS?

Working on a number of major projects in UK, Australia, New Zealand, Qatar and now Oman….and educating the masses as to what exactly a QS is! I’ve lost count a long time ago the number of times I have had to explain what a QS is!

What has been a highlight for you during your career/studies?

Career: Being part of a successful project team that finishes projects on time and within budgets. Studies: Putting the pen down in my final exam; It’s hard studying and working full time, but it is achievable! Projects and studies aside, being part of a tight-knit project team forges great working relationships in and outside of the work place. I would consider the good, loyal mates I’ve made through my career as the biggest highlight to date.

Where/What have you studied?

I started my studies in the UK completing my Higher National Certificate for 4 years in the UK, then (after a long gap in studies!) completed the Bachelor in Construction at Unitec, Auckland (another 4 years), all part-time and while being fully employed.

Would you recommend QS as a career to others? Why?

Notwithstanding NZ and the differing regions to work in there! A well-trained and well-educated QS can apply their trade throughout the world. Similarly, QS’s are required in the Construction, Engineering, Industrial, Civil and Oil and Gas sectors therefore the opportunity to switch from one sector to another is possible. The British Navy once had a recruitment drive with the slogan “join the Navy and see the world”; you could say the same now about QS’s! Similarly, you can concentrate on a Contractors QS, a Sub-contractors QS, a Project Management QS and a Clients QS……yet more options!

What advice would you give secondary students who are considering QS as a career?

Stick at it…..As a starter, many of my school mates earned far more than my first wage (£ 41 a week on the UK Youth Training Scheme) and there were many temptations for me to change career simply for a few more pounds in my pocket at the end of the week. Nowadays, it’s the opposite and I’m proud I stuck the first few years out. Once you are through your training and education, a good Quantity Surveyor is extremely sought after and also carries a very respected position within the Construction & Engineering industry. As far as subjects at school certainly Language subjects would assist with the formal / Contract / legal letter writing; Maths of course for the numbers. Other than this, it’s more about the course you choose post-high school. Both Unitec and Massey run specific courses for Quantity Surveyors and most other Construction / Engineering professions whilst Auckland University focuses more on the Engineering (Civil / Structural) professions.

Why did you become an NZIQS member?

I saw gaining membership of the NZIQS as a recognition by my professional peers. Membership of the NZIQS (or any other Professional or Chartered body) gives you the opportunity to meet and associate with prominent professionals in the Quantity Surveying profession outside of the workplace. These associations can generally assist with any professional issues or career aspirations you may have. In any industry, there is an element of “it’s not what you know, but who you know”, and being an active member of the NZIQS helps in this regard when compared to your colleagues who may not pursue a professional membership. In addition, during my time in Auckland, the NZIQS has a good number of events (both educational and social) which were well attended and enjoyable!

What do you get out of being a NZIQS member?

  • MNZIQS gets recognition in the various industries within NZ and further a-field
  • Continued education (albeit self-reading whilst I’m away from NZ through other member bodies)
  • Good social events regularly held
  • Opportunity to meet QS peers you would ordinarily not get chance to during work and outside of the work environment.

I was in search of a challenging career with guaranteed career progression. I got this and much more when I became a qualified Quantity Surveyor.


Rebecca Marley

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What advice would you give students who are choosing a career?

Avoid being a slave to the ordinary, leave ordinary behind. Growing up I had a large range of career ambitions which all fitted in with the ordinary. I studied, graduated and began working with the ordinary, and soon lost interest.

Why did you choose Quantity Surveying as a career?

I was in search of a challenging career with guaranteed career progression. I got this and much more when I became a qualified Quantity Surveyor.

Where/What did you study?

My first year of fulltime studies was towards a National Diploma in Quantity Surveying at Otago (Polytechnic). Upon returning to study in my second year I took a risk and left studying to work, I was offered a junior QS position after I attended an NZIQS conference. This was a great career choice and has paid off tremendously. I then returned to fulltime studies and have since completed my diploma to graduate from Otago.

What job opportunities have you had so far as a QS?

I worked for Beca Wellington after one year of studies. I was then transferred to Beca Christchurch as a result of the Canterbury Earthquakes. I now work for an Insurance Litigation Firm, Risk Worldwide in Christchurch. I am in a critical stage of my career where I have many opportunities to diversify and progress. Quantity Surveying can be extremely versatile in terms of career change; I would never have imagined I would be where I am now. This has come with taking huge opportunities and risks, all of which have benefited my career.

What is it like being one of the few women who are QS?

The majority of people don’t realise that Quantity Surveying even exists. When asked what I do for a living, the assumption is that I wear a yellow jacket and stand with a tripod and laser on the road. Once I have explained the role of a Quantity Surveyor, I am often looked at sideways and asked if I get banter from the bloke’s onsite. The funny thing about this is that I have had nothing but respect on-site and in the office from other colleagues and contractors. There is no issue what so ever about being a female Quantity Surveyor.

What do you get out of being an NZIQS member?

As mentioned earlier the NZIQS holds an annual conference where members can attend and network with like-minded people as well as meet potential employers. I was fortunate enough to attend an annual conference held in Wellington where I was able to network with fellow members where I was offered 3 junior QS positions.

For anyone interested in pursuing a career in Quantity Surveying I would thoroughly recommend it. It is a rewarding career path to take, with opportunities all around the world.


Bevan Murdoch

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Why did you choose Quantity Surveying as a career?

My entry into the world of Quantity Surveying was somewhat unconventional. I first graduated with a degree in Finance and International Business before working at Westpac Bank. However, the urge to travel was too great, so I spent some time in Ireland before backpacking my way across Europe and the Middle East. Upon returning to Christchurch in November 2010 it was obvious some serious construction works were in the pipeline and was offered an opportunity with Fletcher Construction to work on the Home Repair Program with EQC. Four years later I am still contributing to the rebuild and have gained a Diploma in Quantity Surveying and thoroughly enjoyed my experience.

Were/what have you studied?

I completed my national diploma in Quantity Surveying through the Open Polytechnic and CPIT. Both institutions had different strengths which I quickly learnt and took advantage of. The flexibility complimented my work with Fletchers, which allowed me to complete my diploma part time in three years whilst still working.

What has been a highlight for you during your career?

My work has been widely varied. Including designing, testing and implementing a cloud based software tool used for scoping damaged structures; evaluating tenders, procurement, negotiating with contractors, developing Standard Operating Procedures for a project worth over $2billion. On top of all this, the project has lead me to build relationships both professionally and personally that I will carry with me for the rest of my career.

Would you recommend QS as a career to others?why?

For anyone interested in pursuing a career in Quantity Surveying I would thoroughly recommend it. It is a rewarding career path to take, with opportunities all around the world. I am always amazed by the range of jobs and skills that QS’s can be involved in. One of the appeals to undergo further study was the versatility and the transferability of the skills involved in Quantity Surveying. I look forward to exploring the evolving role of the Quantity Surveyor in the construction industry and seeing where the future will take me!

How long have you been a NZIQS member?

I have been a member of the NZIQS for nearly three years.

Why did you become a NZIQS member?

When I started studying towards my diploma in Quantity Surveying I was working alongside past national president Phillippa Goodman-Jones and she encouraged me to join NZIQS as a student member.

What do you get out of being a NZIQS member?

NZIQS have some great opportunities to meet other QS’s undertaking a diverse range of work. Some of my highlights with the institution so far include attending the annual NZIQS conference and the many opportunities to share a pint, a few nibbles and hear about the different projects and the ever advancing construction industry.