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The Difference Between a Quantity Surveyor and an Estimator

25th June 2024


The roles of Quantity Surveyor’s and Estimator’s on the surface seem to overlap, with both professions playing crucial roles in construction planning and management, they have distinct responsibilities and career trajectories. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision about which path to pursue.

Quantity Surveyor: Role and Responsibilities

A Quantity Surveyor is involved in the financial and contractual aspects of construction projects from inception to completion. Their primary responsibilities include:

Cost Management: QSs ensure that the project remains within budget by managing costs effectively throughout the project lifecycle.

Contract Administration: They prepare tender documents, contracts, budgets, bills of quantities, and other documentation.

Valuation and Payment: QSs conduct valuations of work done on-site and prepare interim and final payment certificates for contractors.

Risk Management: They identify and mitigate financial risks associated with construction projects.

Dispute Resolution: QSs often mediate disputes between contractors and clients.

Estimator: Role and Responsibilities

An Estimator, on the other hand, focuses primarily on the early stages of a project, providing detailed cost estimates. Their key responsibilities include:

Cost Estimation: Estimators analyse project requirements and prepare detailed cost estimates for materials, labour, equipment, and other expenses.

Bid Preparation: They compile and submit bid proposals, ensuring that all necessary documentation is included and accurate.

Market Analysis: Estimators must understand market conditions and trends to provide accurate and competitive pricing.

Scope Clarification: They review project plans and specifications to identify and clarify the scope of work and any potential issues.

Choosing a Career Path: Quantity Surveyor vs. Estimator

When deciding between a career as a Quantity Surveyor or an Estimator, consider the following factors:

Interest in Project Phases:

If you are interested in being involved throughout the entire project lifecycle, from planning to completion, a career as a QS might be more suitable.

If you prefer working in the preliminary stages, focusing on cost planning and bidding, an Estimator role may be more appealing.

Skill Set:

Quantity Surveyors need strong financial management, contract administration, and negotiation skills.

Estimators require excellent analytical skills, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of market trends and construction costs.

Work Environment:

QSs often work on-site, interacting with various stakeholders, including contractors, clients, and engineers.

Estimators typically work in an office environment, analysing data and preparing estimates.

Career Progression:

QSs can advance to roles such as Senior Quantity Surveyor, Commercial Manager, or Project Manager.

Estimators can progress to positions like Senior Estimator, Chief Estimator, or Preconstruction Manager.

Choosing between a career as a Quantity Surveyor or an Estimator depends on your interests, skills, and career aspirations. Both roles offer unique challenges and opportunities for growth in the construction industry. Whichever route you choose to take, we have opportunities to help you progress in your career with many of the UKs leading construction contractors, head over to our live jobs today to browse our vacancies -

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