The Difference Between a Land Surveyor & a Quantity Surveyor

Quite a number of people often confuse the terms Land Surveying and Quantity Surveying. Young people at times might end up following the wrong career path simply because they think these two are the same. In some cases, companies list vacancies in a classifieds section as they might be in need of a Quantity Surveyor but when one takes a close look at the job description and requirements you find out that this is a Land Surveyors work or vice-versa.

In this post, we are going to clearly state and outline the differences between these two professions and also the duties performed by each.

Land Surveying

Surveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them. A land surveying professional is called a land surveyor. Surveyors use equipment like total stations, robotic total stations, GPS receivers, etc.

Quantity Surveying

A Quantity Surveyor  is a construction industry professional with expert knowledge on construction costs and contracts. Services provided by a quantity surveyor may include cost planning and commercial management throughout the entire life cycle of a project from inception to post-completion; value determination; risk management and calculation; tender analysis and agreement of the contract sum. This occupation is more like a combination of architecture and business.

Depending on which part of the region you come from, you will actually notice that each profession has its own professional body that govern the professions conducts and you will even notice that these are independent of each other when it comes to these two.

Career Path & Development

For young individuals, if you are thinking of a career in Land Surveying you should consider courses like Spatial Science, Geospatial Science, and Engineering in Surveying.

As for Quantity Surveying you should  consider Construction Management as an undergraduate course or a postgraduate course.

In most regions now most institutions have managed to have Undergraduate programs which are specifically meant for these two professions and hence it should be quite easy and straight forward to chose. But as for individuals undertaking short courses, you should consider taking the short courses aligned to your field of interest.


Since these two are different that also means the duties and responsibilities expected from each profession are also different with a few similarities of course.

The duties and responsibilities of a Land Surveyor include and are not limited to:

  • Prepare and maintain sketches, maps, reports, and legal descriptions of surveys in order to describe, certify, and assume liability for work performed.
  • Verify the accuracy of survey data, including measurements and calculations conducted at survey sites.
  • Direct or conduct surveys in order to establish legal boundaries for properties, based on legal deeds and titles.
  • Record the results of surveys, including the shape, contour, location, elevation, and dimensions of land or land features.
  • Calculate heights, depths, relative positions, property lines, and other characteristics of terrain.
  • Prepare or supervise preparation of all data, charts, plots, maps, records, and documents related to surveys.
  • Write descriptions of property boundary surveys for use in deeds, leases, or other legal documents.
  • Plan and conduct ground surveys designed to establish baselines, elevations, and other geodetic measurements.
  • Search legal records, survey records, and land titles in order to obtain information about property boundaries in areas to be surveyed.
  • Coordinate findings with the work of engineering and architectural personnel, clients, and others concerned with projects.
  • Determine longitudes and latitudes of important features and boundaries in survey areas, using theodolites, transits, levels, and satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Compute geodetic measurements and interpret survey data in order to determine positions, shapes, and elevations of geomorphic and topographic features.

and whereas…

The duties and responsibilities of a Quantity Surveyor include and are not limited to:

  • Conducting feasibility studies to estimate materials, time and labour costs
  • Preparing, negotiating and analyzing costs for tenders and contracts
  • Coordination of work effort
  • Advising on a range of legal and contractual issues
  • Valuing completed work and arranging for payments
  • Drafting contract conditions
  • price/forecast the cost of the different materials needed for the project
  • prepare tender documents, contracts, budgets, bills of quantities and other documentation
  • track changes to the design and/or construction work and adjust budget projections accordingly
  • procure or agree the services of contractors and/or subcontractors who work on the construction of the project
  • measure and value the work done on site
  • pay subcontractors
  • liaise with the client and other construction professionals, such as site managers, project managers and site engineers
  • select and/or source construction materials
  • write reports.

Hopefully after this discussion you now have an insight of the two and this will help you and your organization select the right career path or the right person for the job.