Rural Surveyor

The Job and What's Involved

Rural surveyors manage the interests of landowners and tenants of rural properties. They may manage one or several estates, and advise on:

  • The law, particularly relating to land, tenancy, agriculture, the environment, planning, buying and selling (including compulsory purchase), valuation and taxation.
  • Rural estate management, including managing of staff, stock and land.
  • Forestry and woodland management.
  • Conservation, building maintenance and extraction of minerals from land.
  • Agricultural matters, including planting, harvesting and pest control.
  • Developing the non-agricultural use of rural land for other business or leisure uses.
  • Accountancy and business management.
  • Mapping and measurements.

Rural surveyors identify the financial, environmental and economic impact of external developments, such as new roads and properties, on the land that they manage. They may be active in ensuring applications for funding and grant entitlements are made. They may also be involved in producing business suggestions and plans outlining new ways for farms and estates to earn money.

Rural surveyors liaise with a wide range of people on a daily basis. They are likely to come into contact with lawyers, accountants, contractors, government officers, landowners and tenant farmers as part of their job.

Working hours vary depending on the needs of the client and may include evenings and weekends. Although surveyors are office based, much of the work takes place outdoors in all weathers, on farms and building sites. Safety clothing, such as hard hats and boots, may be required.

Travel may be required to visit clients, farms, estates, auctions and meetings.

A rural surveyor may start on around £16,000 a year. Some employers provide a pension scheme and a company car. There are also opportunities for free or subsidised housing on some estates, although this is rare.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

The professional bodies representing rural surveyors are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV). About 7,000 of their members work in rural surveying throughout the UK.

Work is available throughout the UK. Most rural surveyors work for private practices. Other employers include conservation groups and charities, local government, private landowners, the National Trust and some government agencies. Employment prospects are good and there is currently a shortage of suitable candidates to fill vacancies.

Jobs are advertised in specialist publications such as Estates Gazette, Farmers Weekly and Property Week. There is also a vacancies section on the website of the CAAV, and it is possible to register with the Rural Practice Appointments Service, details of which are on the RICS website.

Education and Training

To become a qualified rural surveyor, entrants usually need an HNC/HND, degree or similar qualification. An approved degree in rural planning, rural resource planning, land economy, rural enterprise and land management or rural estate management is preferred. It is then possible to work towards RICS or CAAV qualifications to gain chartered status. Many in the profession qualify with both bodies.

For an HNC/HND, candidates usually need at least one A level/two H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications. Entry to a degree course is usually with a minimum of two A levels/three H grades, plus five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or equivalent. Useful subjects include business studies, economics, English, geography and maths.

It is possible to work for the RICS Diploma in Valuation rather than towards chartered status. Candidates need at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English and maths. Equivalent qualifications are accepted. Without chartered status, salary levels are likely to be at a lower level.

Holders of a BTEC HNC/HND or Foundation degree in surveying or construction may be able to work as a surveying technician whilst undertaking further study to become fully qualified.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Rural surveyors may work towards NVQ/SVQ Level 4 in Property Management or Valuation, or towards chartered status.

In order to achieve chartered status, surveyors must gain further practical experience after completing a RICS-accredited degree or diploma. This involves a minimum of two years of structured learning, in employment, leading to a RICS professional assessment interview, known as the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC). Successful completion of the APC entitles the holder to use the letters MRICS after their name. To qualify as a fellow of CAAV, candidates must pass written, practical and oral examinations.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is important for maintaining and updating surveying skills.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A rural surveyor should have:

  • A high level of technical knowledge.
  • An understanding of the issues that affect rural life.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Good communication skills, both orally and in writing.
  • The ability to pay attention to detail.
  • The ability to work with figures and contracts.
  • Excellent organisational and time-management skills.
  • Good valuation skills.
  • Strong negotiation skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Rural surveyors employed by a large practice may have the opportunity to specialise in a particular aspect of surveying such as valuation, estate management or agriculture. It may be necessary to move to another area of the country in order to gain promotion.

To achieve partnership level in a firm usually takes around fifteen years or more, depending on the size and structure of the organisation.

Get Further Information

Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV),
Market Chambers, 35 Market Place,
Coleford, Gloucestershire GL16 8AA
Tel: 01594 832979

Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB),
Englemere, Kings Ride, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7TB
Tel: 01344 630700

Chartered Surveyors Training Trust (CSTT),
Downstream Building, 1 London Bridge,
London SE1 9BG
Tel: 020 7785 3850

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS),
Surveyor Court, Westwood Way,
Coventry CV4 8JE
Tel: 0870 333 1600

Rural Practice Appointments Advisory Board,
Englefield Estate Office, Theale,
Reading, Berkshire RG7 5DU
Tel: 0118 930 2504

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