Registered Quantity Surveyors charge a percentage of the total cost of the project as stipulated in the Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act, Cap 525 of the Laws of Kenya.

Back in 2014 after receiving my secondary school examination results, I was faced with a challenge. I had scored good grades with the hope of joining the university in the same year and had to make a choice of what course/career I will pursue. Since childhood, I was very good at free-hand sketching & drawing and used to make models of houses while in high school. Based on that, I was sure that I wanted something to do with the construction industry but hadn’t already figured out whether it was Architecture, Construction Engineering or Quantity Surveying.

Well, six years later I am in the process of building my career as a Quantity Surveyor. While this article is not intended to divulge to you how I found myself in quantity surveying, the above story is meant to point out to you that career choice is a challenging task. This challenging task requires you as an individual to make considerations and weigh possible choices based on certain influencing factors before making a choice. Denying the fact that money is one of those influencing factors will be self-deception.

What is Quantity Surveying?

Quantity surveying is a discipline/profession that concerns itself with the establishment of cost of construction projects and its subsequent management. It is both an art and a science that deals with the control of costs and the rendering of cost advice in all matters relating to building, civil and other engineering projects.

What do Quantity Surveyors Do?

A person possessing the requisite training, registration, license, skills and knowledge to perform quantity surveying duties is referred to as a quantity surveyor (QS), a cost consultant or a cost engineer.

The work of a quantity surveyor, according to the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS), is to perform the following functions:

  • Preparing and evaluating construction and development tenders from information provided by architects, engineers and other design consultants and negotiate and award contracts to successful proponents.
  • Managing, administering and coordinating all types of construction and development projects, including contracts and sub-contracts, construction progress schedules, cost control systems, and work measurement.
  • Preparing, submitting and managing progress invoices, valuation of changes and finalize contracts.
  • Providing advice on construction cost and strategic planning to prospective owners, architects, engineers and public authorities.
  • Preparing and interpreting tender documents, specifications, general conditions, and other parts and forms of contracts.
  • Preparing and submitting estimates for construction and development work.
  • Providing commercial advice and support to construction and development project works.
  • Conducting or participating in arbitration and court hearings.
  • Researching, negotiating and supporting dispute resolution activities.

In doing the above, quantity surveyors exist to help anyone coming up with a building to get value for the money they invest in those projects.

How Much Do Quantity Surveyors Make/Earn?

Although money shouldn’t be the only motivating factor, it is one of the factors that people consider when making a decision about what career to pursue. Therefore, you might have found yourself asking how much do quantity surveyors make.

The earnings of a quantity surveyor depend on many factors that are in play. All quantity surveyors don’t earn/make the same amount of money. It all boils down to your hardwork, whether you are employed or working for yourself, the type of employer you are working for, whether you run other businesses or not, whether you are registered or not, your level of experience, among other factors.

Private Firm Employees’ Earnings

The Architectural Association of Kenya did a salary survey in August 2019 and the report is one of the authorities than we can refer to when answering this question. The information contained therein is regarding the salary of all built environment professionals including the quantity surveyors. According to the report, partners/directors of firms earn between Kshs. 150,000 to Kshs. 1,000,000; with senior professionals earning between Kshs. (200,000 and 500,000) per month.

Registered Quantity Surveyors’ Earnings

Further, registered professionals who are employed by private firms either on either part-time or contract term basis were earning an average of Kshs. 150,000. Some of these were being paid on a commission basis depending on the arrangements they had with their employers. It is important that you get this distinction: registered professionals working independently earn differently compared to those in private sector formal employment. Their earnings are regulated by the Architects & Quantity Surveyors Act Cap 525 of the Laws of Kenya. They are allowed by the law to charge a percentage of the total cost of the project to cover for their professional fees.

In comparison to being employed, self-employed registered quantity surveyors may earn more depending on the number and magnitude of the projects they are handling. Their earnings may vary, however, depending on the type of clients they handle and factors such as whether clients are honouring payments requests on time, the progress stage of the projects they are handling, number of employees they have under them, among other factors.

Graduate Quantity Surveyors’ Earnings

Graduate employees in the private sector were earning on average from Kshs. 40,000 to Kshs. 80,000 per month, while technicians earned an average of Kshs. 40,000 per month. It is important to understand that salaries in the private sector are not fixed and depend on the employee’s ability to negotiate coupled with their skills and work experiences.

Public Sector Employees’ Earnings

Unlike the private sector, the public sector salaries for built environment professionals employed by the government are governed by a well-structured job classification devised by the Salaries & Remuneration Commission (SRC). Graduates entering public service according to the SRC salary scales for 2019 earned between Kshs. 63,562 and Kshs. 121,134 per month with the highest-paid professional earning a basic salary of up to Kshs. 406,107 per month. This classification covers all professions in the built environment including those belonging to the quantity surveying profession.

In view of this discussion, it is evident that an individual’s level of experience plays a role in determining how much they will earn if employed as a QS. Registered professionals have more bargaining power as the license gives them the freedom to undertake their own projects as independent consultants or create their own quantity surveying firms. As an independent consultant, your hardwork in soliciting projects and clients has a role in determining your earnings.

However, it is important to appreciate the fact that your monthly gross or net earnings (whether employed in the private or public sector, owning a firm or practising as an independent consultant) are not the same as your individual net worth. The amount of money that you remain with to spend freely is dependent on your expenses and whether you have other external sources of income (not dependent on your work as a QS) to supplement your salary/earnings/profits.


Suggested Texts for Further Reading:

AAK (Architectural Association of Kenya) Salary Survey Report 2019

Salaries & Remuneration Commission – Job Classifications for Government of Kenya Employees

Architects & Quantity Surveyors Act, Cap 525 of the Laws of Kenya – Scale of Fees for Professional Quantity Surveyors