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Opinion: Surveyor Qualification Confusion

industry opinion

Over the past two years, I have seen a rapid decline in how surveyors treat each other, how the surveying industry (or profession, if you prefer) is respected, and our loss of focus on what matters. It makes me sad, and for someone who loves surveying, it can make it difficult for me to champion the work we do.


Qualification Confusion

Levels of membership and the letters after your name are not the same as being qualified and competent to do the job at hand. You need to learn the technical skills and knowledge to do any technical job. I am increasingly coming across examples of usually AssocRICS surveyors carrying out level 3 building surveys. While this is not necessarily a problem, it is if they have not had enough proper training and mentoring to do so. 

I saw a quote online this week by Oscar Wilde reminding us that ‘Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward’. The lesson must come first when doing a job that could put people's lives at risk. 

The confusion over the difference between AssocRICS and MRICS is as frustrating as it has ever been. Some feel it is a specialism, others a stepping stone to MRICS. I regularly encounter surveyors falling out over it. Tensions are high. RICS members are turning on each other, resulting in poor behaviour as each tries to defend their position.

Ultimately, it comes down to those who set the rules and membership levels to consider the consequences.


Too Many Differences

In my experience, only a few surveyors can explain the differences between RICS membership levels. Some of the most experienced I know are AssocRICS, yet the route to ‘qualification’ is not simple to navigate; that is, ease of navigation and accessibility. Not a qualification is easy to achieve.

The Home Survey Standard provides minimum standards for a wide range of services and innovations to develop. Yet it is not uncommon to hear of a £100s difference in fee quotes for the same survey level. For a sector that is very bad at marketing its services, this is nothing short of a disaster for a consumer trying to find the right support to make a big decision. Yet, there is no accurate data available to confirm how many people actually get a home survey when they purchase a property. At best guess, we are all still quoting around 1 in 4, but we really don't know.

If consumers don't value our work, quite simply, they won't buy it. In changing times due to upfront information, property logbooks, material information and more advanced AVMs, now is not a good time for a consumer to be confused about our worth.


Paying Attention to the Gap

That is the gap between what is happening at the top - where the rules we follow are debated, created and set, and how that plays out for the rest of us just trying to do our best.  Clear communication, timely decision-making at the top, and meaningful engagement with surveyors at the coalface need to be achieved. We need to understand how decisions are made when surveyors are not consulted. We need to share not only our views but also our experiences and the reality of the job at hand.

As the gap widens, we lack trust and confidence in those making decisions and surveyors feel more isolated about their profession. What we need is visible, relevant leadership.


Enjoy this article? You might also like Opinion: Why RICS Regulation Must Act.

Find this content helpful? I'd love to hear your suggestions and recommendations. If you found this article helpful, please share it and show your support by leaving me a Google review, or you can Buy Me a Coffee. Being a small business just like you, it makes all the difference.

Marion Ellis
Founder of Love Surveying, The Surveyor Hub and Women in Surveying
Coach, Mentor and Business Consultant for Surveyors


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Opinion: Surveyor Qualification Confusion

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