Good with numbers, facts, and interested in buildings? The National Diploma in Quantity Surveying from New Zealand might be what you are looking for.

Ever wondered what goes behind the price you see marked on a property? Wondered how they derive the per-square-foot rate? And who is the person who probably decides how to empty your carefully loaded wallet? Let’s just say a quantity surveyor earns not only this position but also a very high salary in his business.

Experts at deriving the cost of a building, quantity surveyors play their part at every stage of a building project, right from the initial preliminary estimates to agreement of the final account — they know their math and take care of the financial aspect of the building.

Those aspiring to become quantity surveyors should definitely seek opportunities in countries like New Zealand which have varied opportunities available for aspiring surveyors. Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), New Zealand, offers one such specialised course.

A quantity surveyor must be comfortable with facts and figures, must possess a thorough knowledge of building construction and must be able to advise clients on alternative construction methods to save money for the builders. He should also master the art of communicating as he will be constantly in talks with people involved in the building industry, be it architects, engineers, builders, subcontractors or suppliers.

What you learn

The diploma covers a diverse selection of courses that will provide you with the ability to combine sound communication skills with facts and figures.

Courses range from the core areas of construction systems, materials, environment, services, building law, contract administration and communication to more specialist courses that reflect the specific knowledge base required in the construction management discipline: measurement and estimation.

There are some lectures but most quantity surveying specific courses such as measurement and estimating are in classes of up to 25 with lots of practical and hands on work. The overall ratio would be about 30 per cent theory classes and about 70 per cent practical hands on.

Assessment

This is a national programme which is nationally moderated by the Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation (BCITO). It is therefore competency based with assessments benchmarked to other NZ polytechnics. Assessment is progressive through the year, with most courses assessed by assignments and practical projects but there are still a small number of tests/exams.

Careers

The basic skill is measuring quantities which are then priced to determine the cost of buildings. They use cost data to model the cost of proposed buildings and therefore have a lot of influence over the development of the design. Quite a lot of work is done on computers, but there is a good combination of office work and work on site. Quantity surveyors are employed by private firms of quantity surveyors, building contractors, government agencies as well as local authorities, subcontractors and suppliers. With their knowledge of the financial side of building, many quantity surveyors go on to run building and construction (contractor) companies.

Course

National Diploma in Quantity Surveying is offered at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), New Zealand

Duration: Two-years, full time. Part time options also available

Commencement: February

Applications: Applications received throughout the year. Late applications may be considered

How to apply

School-leavers as well as people re-training, particularly those from elsewhere in the building and related industries, such as civil engineering, are free to apply.

Academic entry requirements:

Twelve credits in NCEA Level 1 English and 36 credits at NCEA Level 2 (including 12 credits in Mathematics)

Evidence of literacy, numeracy and an ability to study at the appropriate level. This can be through study, work and/or life experience. CPIT literacy assessments are available and English language requirements apply to all applicants, both domestic and those from a non-English speaking background. They must have 12 credits in NCEA level 1 English or 12 credits of unit standards in level 1 English. Minimum IELTS score of 6.0 Academic (no lower than 6.0 in speaking, reading and writing subtests and 6.0 in listening subtest)

What they say

Nilesh Patel, India

The National Diploma in Quantity Surveying course is up to date with the current New Zealand standard. At the moment, excellent jobs are available for Quantity Surveyor students due to the rebuilding of homes and commercial premises in Christchurch. At CPIT, lecturers and tutors are professionals in the fields they teach and know the variety of solutions that can be applied to design challenges. Tutors always encourage us to ask question, no matter how silly our questions are.

This programme also involved field trips to construction sites or manufacturing companies. It was really helpful to be physically on-site, seeing the processes we had been learning about earlier in the class. This course does not involve any industry project.

Gavin Wilton, New Zealand

After graduating, I started working at Fletcher Construction – Commercial as a quantity surveyor. During my time at Fletcher’s, I have successfully completed various projects which comprised an extension to an existing abattoir, fit out for a bank, demolition of a high rise building, renovation and restoration of an old building. My most recent project is earthquake remedial work at a Christchurch hospital.