Excellent opportunities for professionals
From planning, construction, maintenance, preservation and restoration, surveyors have an integral role to play in the different aspects of the environment. With the land and building surveying profession closely linked to Hong Kong's property market, the industry has felt the pinch from the global economic downturn, but not as heavily as other industries.
However, according to an industry expert, the surveying profession is proving to be more resilient than expected.
'Of course we have noticed the impact caused by the financial crisis but, overall, the industry is in fairly good shape,' said Francis Leung Lap-ki, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors (HKIS), a multidisciplinary institute with expertise in general practice, building surveying, land surveying, property and facility management, planning development and quantity surveying. The Institute has about 7,000 members including students.
Mr Leung said, while surveying companies had been affected by the construction slowdown in Dubai and Macau, there were continuing construction projects and property transactions in Hong Kong that were keeping many members busy. He also expected government-initiated infrastructure projects, and the administration's drive to improve neglected and dilapidated properties, to sustain demand for surveyors.
According to Zhou Yong, vice- chairman and chief executive of China State Construction International Holdings, the strong market demand for quantity surveyors is because construction companies, consultants and subcontractors need quantity surveyors to assist in tendering, provision payment and valuation.
Mr Leung said: 'We have a wide range of projects in Hong Kong that require the expertise of qualified professional surveyors.
'The nature of the work may range from the design of large, multimillion-dollar structures to modest adaptations and repairs, to property sales and licensing requirements in bars and restaurants.'
Sometimes the job includes working with buildings of architectural or historical importance.
Surveyors are also required to ensure projects are completed on time and within budget, and to prepare scheme designs with costing, programmes for completion of projects and specification of works.
Mr Leung said the majority of work was centred around general practice surveying, which involved the management, valuation, buying, selling and development of land and property.
Mr Zhou said demand for quantity surveyors would remain high at China State Construction, with new construction and infrastructure projects in Hong Kong, the mainland and the Middle East slated to start.
'We are now recruiting construction staff in Hong Kong, especially contract managers and quantity surveyors, at all levels to join our operation in the United Arab Emirates,' Mr Zhou said.
The company employs about 300 quantity surveyors who are mainly responsible for cost management, consolidating bulk-subcontracting materials, salary calculation and auditing for subcontractors, and valuation of construction projects.
To become a qualified surveyor usually requires acquiring a bachelor's degree in a surveying discipline. These are offered by the University of Hong Kong, City University and Polytechnic University.
This is followed by at least two years of supervised work with a recognised surveying company before sitting the professional assessment competency test and interview by the HKIS.
In addition to looking after members' professional development needs and promoting best practices, the HKIS requires members to complete 60 hours of a recognised professional training programme. Mr Leung said: 'We are committed to lifting the professional benchmark of our profession and expanding awareness of the wide choice of career opportunities.'
According to Robin Howes, managing director at Kenward Consulting, in addition to qualifications and professional skills, the most important attribute required to build a successful career in surveying is a passion for the built environment.
'It is also vitally important surveyors keep up to date with relevant planning laws and building regulations. They should also be aware of environmental requirements and sustainable building initiatives,' he said.
Employment prospects for surveyors are excellent in Hong Kong, with many companies offering staff good career advancement opportunities.
Mr Zhou said: 'We provide a clear career path based on continuous professional development. Experienced staff and those with the necessary skill levels are often promoted to contract manager or senior contract manager where they focus on business and contract management.'