Getting on the ladder to chartered status

Associate membership of RICS recognises professional experience and vocational qualifications, offering a way into the profession for those who have not attended university, as one surveyor explains


  • Richard Hookway

21 August 2020

If you were asked what the best preparation for a career in surveying would be, your answers would probably not include IT consultant. Yet I recently attained AssocRICS status, and that is how I began my career.

Back in the 1990s, I was living in Devon with my wife and running my own IT business. In 2006, when we were expecting our first child, I closed the business and we moved to Hampshire to be nearer my
in-laws. I wanted to work in a different sector, so I used the knowledge I had gained from former clients and my family – several relatives are builders and developers – and obtained a job with an independent estate agency. I initially worked in the sales department and then as a relocation agent, helping families who were moving to the UK find appropriate housing and schools for their children.

In early 2007, I trained as an energy assessor in preparation for the roll-out of home information packs, which were launched by the government that August. In addition, in 2008 I started taking high quality architectural and interiors photographs for developers,
high-end estate agents and kitchen manufacturers, which have been published in a variety of international publications. I also provided monthly content for Livingetc and Ideal Home magazines.

"Associate status recognises work-based surveying experience and vocational qualifications in one of RICS’ sector pathways"

A new challenge

However, I wanted a new challenge, so in 2017 I enrolled on the Surveyors and Valuers Accreditation (SAVA) Diploma in Residential Surveying and Valuation. The diploma is a Level 6 qualification, overseen by the Awarding Body for the Built Environment and approved for direct entry into RICS.

The first 12 months of the course were classroom-based, and I commuted to Surrey twice a month for lectures covering valuation, building pathology, construction, law, building services and report writing. There was also coursework to complete each month in preparation for the next lesson, which involved studying in the evenings and at weekends around work and family commitments.

After the classroom lectures came the assessment phase, which involved producing a portfolio of evidence, including HomeBuyer Reports as well as market, residual and investment valuations. I was assigned a mentor – a chartered surveyor who provided feedback and further questioning for each submission – and this stimulated me to study the subject in depth. I found the process highly beneficial, and learnt a lot from my mentor.

I closed my property marketing business in the summer of 2018, and in September started working for a Portsmouth-based multidisciplinary surveying firm as a residential building surveyor and valuer. Working there while training for my qualification was a challenging but fulfilling experience because I was involved in a wide field of work during a particularly busy time for the team. I am now planning to work freelance following a change of circumstance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I chose to qualify as an AssocRICS because I could not afford the time, or the drop in earnings, that full-time college or university attendance would have entailed. Associate status recognises
work-based surveying experience and vocational qualifications in one of RICS’ sector pathways, and provides a stepping stone to full chartered status, which I hope to achieve in the near future.

The qualification begins with the RICS Conduct Rules, Ethics and Professional Practice course. Once candidates have passed this, they must submit a 3,000-word summary of their relevant experience, a 2,500-word case study on a recent project to demonstrate their practical abilities, and proof of 48 hours of CPD during the previous 12 months. On successful completion of APC final assessment and after  passing a peer interview from a panel of chartered members the candidate becomes an RICS associate member.   

All these written projects are overseen by the candidate’s counsellor, who plans the training, monitors the progress and guides the candidates throughout their training period. The candidate’s mentor provides support, offers professional knowledge and occasionally challenges the candidate to ensure their submissions are of the required standard. The counsellor and mentor must be an RICS fellow, member or associate member of at least four years’ standing. If candidates do not know anyone suitable, the RICS Membership team can help find someone.

I would recommend the AssocRICS route to anyone who is considering a career in surveying but needs to continue working while studying. I have benefitted from the varied experience of the mentors and colleagues I have worked with and am looking forward to using, and adding to, that knowledge throughout my career.


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