How to become a quantity surveyor…

Trainee Quantity Surveyor Glasgow
We chatted with our trainee quantity surveyor Olivia Bibb about her journey to becoming a QS and any advice she has for someone thinking about working in construction.

Olivia is passionate about her studies which started when she was eighteen. Having left school without really knowing what she wanted to do, she has spent the last 5 years working towards her goal of becoming a Quantity Surveyor while juggling family, studies and her commitment to the company.

“I was speaking with a friend who was older than me about what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t sure at this stage what I was going to do having left school and what options were open to me. My friend’s advice was simple. She was a qualified Quantity Surveyor: Quantity Surveying will always be there. I took her advice and thought she had built a good life for herself and I wanted to do the same. I knew I wanted more than a job, I wanted a career. I had no construction experience at this point, which I needed to get my start. I contacted some companies looking for work experience and I was successful to get my foot in the door at NIXON as well as starting my studies.”

“I was eighteen when I enrolled in West College Scotland. Here I completed a year doing an NC in Built Environment. I loved it. I loved construction and I wanted it as my career. From there, I moved on to complete an HND in Quantity Surveying for the next two years at the City of College Glasgow before embarking on my final two years at Heriot-Watt University. I’ve nearly completed this and I’m expecting to graduate in 2021, so I thought what’s next?”

Olivia juggles her studies with raising a family and working at NIXON. She has shadowed Director Dominic MacConnell and experienced Quantity Surveyor Craig Sorley, working on multiple projects including the build of new apartments at The Picture House in Dennistoun, which is due for completion in 2021, and the regeneration of areas in Paisley through the development of residential builds.

“If I was to give advice to anyone looking at how to become a quantity surveyor or paths into construction, I would say go for it. Ask people what quantity surveyors actually do, research the universities offering programmes, and look for ways to find out more about construction and the quantity surveying jobs. Construction is everywhere when you starting looking around and if you want to join the industry, there are opportunities. There are companies like NIXON, a Glasgow-based construction company, who look for trainees.

“And don’t be put off if you’re the only female in the class, this is changing. There were times I was the only one in some of my classes but the numbers of females are visibly rising.”

Now in the final stages of her degree and on track to obtain her undergraduate degree with impressive results to date, Olivia was keen to continue her studies as her ultimate ambition is to be an adjudicator once she has gained years of experience in the industry.

“I’ve just been accepted into Construction Law at Strathclyde University and I can’t believe it when I think where I started. I will be a qualified Quantity Surveyor in the summer and as well as that I get to work on incredible projects here at NIXON. The juggle of work, studying and family has definitely been worth it. It all started with that conversation with my friend and what was I going to do with my life.

If you’re thinking of becoming a quantity surveyor or joining the construction industry, I would say go for it. The construction and built environment are always changing and it is vital to keep upskilling and adding value to what you can offer companies. I’m looking forward to the next challenge as you never know where the next step will take you.

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