David Tuffin: In an uncertain world, surveyors can make a huge contribution

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The Independent Online

Over the last year the real estate world has seen some turbulent times economic conditions have not favoured certain parts of the industry, yet surveying will weather the storm. Being such a diverse profession, surveyors are integral to all aspects of land, property, construction and the associated environmental issues.

The range of opportunities in surveying is stunning. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has identified over 170 specialisms. In these pages, we see how chartered surveyors contribute to the success of many diverse and exciting projects, from working on film sets to delivering the 2012 Olympics. This diversity can make it hard to encapsulate what the profession does, but once people understand, they often want to know more, like how they can get on the road to qualifying.

RICS offers multiple career paths. We group the many specialisms into 17 broad areas of practice in which you can qualify such as project management or construction. Each trainee surveyor is required to complete an assessment of professional competence: a two-year training period while in employment, followed by a final interview which, if passed, allows an individual to be recognised as a chartered surveyor.

So what does it take to become a chartered surveyor? Surveyors need to be good with people at all levels from advising banks and investors to offering impartial advice to the public. While academic skills are vital, it is those graduates with exceptional interpersonal skills who will make it to the top of the profession.

People come into surveying from all backgrounds. One route for deserving young people from disadvantaged backgrounds is provided by the Chartered Surveyors Training Trust, which offers a debt-free and tutor-supported advanced level surveying apprenticeship, leading to a degree and professional qualification.

Many surveyors will tell you that the primary benefit of the profession is the fact that you won't be stuck behind a desk all day. But if financial reward is a key motivator for you, then surveying can tick that box too. RICS members aged 23-26 earn 31 per cent more than their non-chartered counterparts in the earlier stages of their career (31,795 versus 24,290). Chartered surveyors enjoyed average salary increases last year of 7.5 per cent, nearly twice the UK average.

Once you qualify as a chartered surveyor, your contribution to society cannot be underestimated. Sustainability is high on the agenda. Regenerating cities with an eye on how this will affect future generations is crucial. Surveyors contribute to every aspect of this and help to build a sustainable world for the future.

Surveyors are increasingly involved in helping some of the most vulnerable communities in the world, for example in preparing for and recovering from major disasters. There are 2.54 billion people who have suffered through major disasters in the last 30 years. Many survivors spend years in temporary shelters, as the humanitarian community isn't equipped to manage permanent reconstruction. The RICS is at the forefront of raising awareness of the worldwide need for surveying skills in disaster management. The profession's expertise is needed at all stages of the disaster management cycle, from building in resilience, to "building back better" after disasters.

How can someone interested in joining the surveying profession find out more? The recent launch of global online products is helping to bring the next generation of surveyors on board. The RICS official recruitment website is www.ricsrecruit.com. It contains thousands of job vacancies and international information.

Meanwhile, www.rics.org/courses allows students to search for RICS-accredited degree courses across the world at the touch of a button. Taking a RICS-accredited degree is often crucial to enter the profession. Construction and real estate form a worldwide market and RICS-accredited courses are available globally.

I hope you enjoy these articles which cover regeneration, travel and an insight into the diverse range of careers surveying offers. But this is just a taster please visit our websites to see what more surveying and RICS have to offer. RICS is a global organisation, with some 140,000 members in 146 countries. Twenty per cent of the profession is now based outside the UK and membership growth is particularly strong in the Asia Pacific region where there is huge demand for surveying skills. International clients look for the high standards that our members provide. In the UK, too, demand for the profession's services outstrips supply.

David Tuffin FRICS is president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and chairman of Tuffin Ferraby Taylor www.ricsrecruit.com

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