Louis Armstrong: Like a doctor or a lawyer, you can be a specialist in a diverse profession

The property market plays a key role in the global economy, accounting for as much as 20 per cent of the GNP in some countries.

The property market plays a key role in the global economy, accounting for as much as 20 per cent of the GNP in some countries. To exploit the huge potential in this vital resource, governments, business and society need advice they can trust, and chartered surveyors are the professionals they turn to.

The value of property as a business asset is increasingly recognised by business leaders - big and small - around the world, with companies beginning to see their property arrangements as an asset rather than a liability. The poor performance of equities and pensions over the last 10 years has meant that property investments have greatly out-performed stocks and shares.

In the UK, vast investment in public services is due to continue with large housing and infrastructure projects (including schools and hospitals) planned across the country.

The global nature of business and free flow of capital across borders means property services and skills are increasingly exportable. Internationally recognised qualifications are becoming ever more valued and sought after by organisations with multinational business interests.

All of these factors have raised the understanding of the importance property plays within society at large. As a profession, few can rival the influence chartered surveyors have in shaping the world. Surveyors are involved with all the world's physical assets - from major construction projects to protecting the environment, from surveying the sea bed to valuing property.

Like a doctor, or lawyer, you can become a specialist in a diverse profession. From helping to build successful cities as a developer or regeneration specialist, to protecting wildlife as a technical surveyor, one thing is for sure: you won't be stuck at your desk every day.

Surveyors are increasingly required to manage clients needs as well as billion-pound projects. Employers don't just want graduates with surveying degrees so it is a good time for graduates of other degree disciplines to investigate the opportunities open to them. As well as a degree, surveyors need excellent communication, negotiation and management skills. Commercial and financial acumen are highly valued attributes demanded by surveying firms.

Salaries can vary significantly from region to region, but graduates at the larger surveying firms can expect to earn £20,000-£25,000. Once fully qualified, (a process that usually takes two years), you can expect to earn £30,000-£35,000. Beyond this, the sky's the limit. Property and construction can be hugely lucrative. Professional recognition is one of the most important and valued aspects of RICS membership. Chartered status provides you with a career passport - allowing you to work around the world without having to repeat your studies. Surveying encompasses a huge range of activities but some of the big construction projects that surveyors are currently involved in include:

Sports stadiums

Wembley, Euro 2004, the Olympics, football and rugby world cups have all required new stadiums and infrastructures. With global media coverage and sponsorship opportunities, these events are increasingly seen as vital revenue generators for regeneration projects. Chartered surveying skills are key in ensuring stadiums are built on time, to budget and specification.

Snowdon Summit Café

Plans are in progress to transform the building which Prince Charles called the "highest slum in Britain". Made of stone and making as much use of light as possible, the new building will be on top of Mount Snowdon. The highest building in Wales is currently a dilapidated café providing refreshments and shelter for 350,000 visitors each year. The makeover will be taken forward by a team of architects, quantity surveyors, structural engineers and planning supervisors.

Hong Kong Disneyland

Construction work has started on the first Disneyland theme park to be built in China. Once completed, it is hoped that the park will attract five million visitors a year, most from the newly affluent middle classes in China to help revive Hong Kong's struggling economy. Due to be completed in 2006, more than 100 hectares of land have been reclaimed from the sea for the theme park and its hotels.

Louis Armstrong is the Chief Executive of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. For more information contact the RICS on 0870 333 1600, email contactrics@rics.org or log on to www.rics.org/careers

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