Careers paths from Quantity Surveyor to Claims Consultant or Senior Quantum Consultant
Posted by Steve Thomas , Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada on Saturday, November 12, 2022
Are you a Quantity Surveyor with several years of hands-on experience? Have you heard about the exciting possible career paths within construction claims and dispute work? If this is of potential interest, look no further; the Maxim Recruitment team is here to help map out some of your possible career options within this rewarding career direction.
As a specialist recruiter for construction claims and quantum expert job roles, we spend a significant amount of time discussing such opportunities with ‘traditional’ Quantity Surveyors from contractor and PQS backgrounds, the majority of whom have little to no prior dedicated experience of working in this specialist sector of the construction industry. This article focuses on the pathway to becoming a specialist Claims Consultant or Senior Quantum Consultant within construction disputes via the Quantity Surveyor route.
What a Quantity Surveyor Does
The Quantity Surveyor's job is to be commercially and contractually shrewd. The role of the Quantity Surveyor is to represent your employer’s interests (whether client, contractor or subcontractor) to ensure a cost-effective project outcome is reached. Quantity Surveyors are responsible for keeping projects on track financially and contractually – in other words, they manage the cost and the contract, and ensure the project is completed within the intended parameters.
Quantity Surveyor Transferable Job Skills into Claims Consultant Work
Let’s assume that you have never worked on a construction dispute before, but you do have experience of administering a JCT or NEC construction contract and have a good understanding of entitlements under the contract you are administering. Perhaps you also have had exposure to managing the commercial implications of a “challenging client” demanding extensive variations to the original design or other works? Perhaps there have been significant cost escalations that you have had to manage from subcontractors and to deal with upstream with the client? Perhaps you have a PQS / Cost consultancy background and have strong stakeholder management experience or project review or project recovery experience from when a project cost went well over budget and a new plan had to be drawn up to bring costs and programme back in to line?
All the above types of experience in a Quantity Surveying / Senior Quantity Surveyor or Cost Consultant / Senior Cost Manager job role are valuable when transitioning into a dedicated claims, dispute management or a specialist project recovery job assignment.
Where does a Quantity Surveyor Fit within Construction Claims Job Titles?
At the start of the migration of your career into a dedicated claims and dispute role, the appropriate level you can normally anticipate being employed at is roughly:
- Quantity Surveyor or Cost Manager > A Consultant (Quantum) job
- Senior Quantity Surveyor / Senior Cost Manager > A Senior Consultant (Quantum) job
What do Quantum Claims Consultant Employers Look for in Quantity Surveying Applicants?
The capability that employers look for with candidates that have previous QS experience is that candidates have developed transferable skills that can be implemented within Quantum and Claims work. Here are a few of the desirable types of experience that quantum claims consultant client employers look for:
- Experience of having worked for a premium main contractor or consultancy
- Exposure to large scale, complex construction projects
- Familiarity with standard forms of contract such as NEC, JCT &/or FIDIC
- Some exposure to QS duties that may ultimately progress through to the submission of a well-documented and argued claim. For example, relevant experience could be the identification and interpretation of contractual entitlements, variations and the management of Extension of Time (EOT) requests
- Strong report writing and letter writing skills, perhaps notification of entitlements or early warning letters that demonstrate an attention to detail, accuracy, and cross-referencing of issues to contract clauses and other supporting documentation
How to Build a QS Career into a Career in Construction Claims and Disputes
In addition to experience of core Quantity Surveying duties, employers look for consistency & stability in a career so far and evidence that you have a career plan and an interest in academic professional progression within claims and disputes; so in summary you would ideally be able to evidence:
- Good continuity of employment to date
- A logic and progression in the QS job roles you have undertaken and a logic to your choice of employer and project types you have worked on in order to gain broad and strong early career experience.
- A keen interest in undertaking or completing a relevant qualification relating to construction law (see where to study for a Masters in Construction and alternative training providers for Msc in Construction Law.
Picking up on the qualifications point made above, it is fair to say that unlike with most construction contractors and subcontractors, most of our claims and disputes employer clients prefer candidates we present them with for consideration, to be Chartered (MRICS/InstCES or equivalent) or to be progressing on a clear path towards Chartership with their Diary and their route to taking their APC mapped out.
Get Noticed with “Dual Qualification”
Furthermore, many premium quantum claims and dispute employers like the candidates we propose for interview with them to be, or to commit to become “dual qualified”, which means that in addition to holding MRICS or equivalent, candidates also have or be in the process of obtaining a construction law related qualification as well.
Why Timing is Critical When Moving from Quantity Surveying to a Specialist Claims & Dispute Career
There is, however, potentially a major issue relating to the balance between qualifications and experience and the move into dedicated claims and dispute work – it is the timing of this career move that is critical.
In normal circumstances, there is only a limited window of opportunity where a Quantity Surveyor or Cost Manager has enough experience to make the move across into dedicated claims work - but also not too much experience, which would make them over-experienced in non-core quantum and claims duties (ie other QS duties), and quite possibly also not Chartered or “dual qualified” either. Waiting too long before making the move into dedicated claims and dispute work also makes candidates with ‘too much’ of the “wrong” type of experience too expensive for the salary levels such candidates are seeking to maintain when moving to a new specialist area of expertise they are just starting out in and will need to learn a lot about before becoming fully productive and proficient in.
Potential candidates that have passed this window of opportunity to transfer to specialist claims work that are not willing to take a significant pay cut to move across, may prefer to consider the alternative of remaining with their current type of employer and progressing their career in a ‘traditional’ way and become a Commercial Manager, Commercial Director with a contractor or an Associate Director or Partner with a consultancy as appropriate.
Career Advice for Quantity Surveyors Seeking a Quantum Claims and Dispute Career
As a Quantity Surveyor, as you might expect, the best way to successfully build your career is to be aware of your choices and to take action that allows you to realise your career objectives you set yourself. Such objectives could be to maximise your income in the very short term (go freelance?), work on a major project (go and work overseas?) or to work to develop a specialist skill and capability over a period of time within a highly valued construction specialism leading to long term career stability, work-life balance and a handsome upward salary and bonus trajectory. For many this career path could be specializing within construction quantum claims and disputes.
Take Action to Discover Career Opportunities Within Construction Claims Consultancy Work
Whatever you ultimately decide to do with your Quantity Surveying qualification and early career experience, the team at Maxim Recruitment are happy to give you our advice on the career direction and specific job opportunities that might match the makings of a great career in the industry. If you would like us to do this, please send us your CV carefully prepared and updated CV in Word format and provide the requested details in support of your application on the online application form. You can submit your CV for general review or you can apply for a specific quantum claims job by reviewing and applying for one matching your preferences using the link here: https://www.maximrecruitment.com/commercial-and-quantum-jobs
Claims and Disputes work can be an incredibly rewarding career path for those looking to transition their Quantity Surveying skills into this specialist sector of the construction industry and we look forward to offering our help and advice on this and a number of other career directions for Quantity Surveying professionals.