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Property concerns land, building and their contents. A property graduate career is full of potential, with opportunities all over the UK. As business has become increasingly international property firms have expanded to meet their clients' global requirements. Over recent years property occupiers and investors have looked overseas for growth, resulting in a spate of mergers and acquisitions in the property sector as firms attempt to re-position themselves as the strongest player in a changing marketplace.

Clients with a need for international advice and services include multinationals, investment entities, property lenders and government bodies. For investors a number of factors can make overseas markets attractive, including favourable local market conditions, risk diversification, favourable tenure structures, tax incentives, favourable finance terms and exchange rate differentials.

UK firms have established a presence on the international stage through mergers and formal alliances with local companies. Many have expanded into regions that are familiar in some way to start with, Western Europe in particular. Progress in the USA, however, has been slow. Buy-outs by American real estate companies are the only proven ways of successfully establishing a presence in the American domestic market.

South East Asia has historical links with the UK and English is understood throughout the region. There are established property investors here and high growth markets. China is considered to be the next big region to conquer.

The main players on the international property field are investment banks, venture capitalists, property companies and institutional investors. Working for an international company offers a wealth of possibilities. The main centres within Europe are London, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid, and outside Europe work takes place in New York and Hong Kong. As a new graduate in a big property firm it is likely that you will be involved in international business during your first two years. Currently, the best property graduate career opportunities are in the fields of agency, investment, valuation and consultancy.

Average Property Graduate Salary

Property Graduate Career Path

There are a number of routes to become a surveyor. You can become a chartered or technical surveyor, depending on which qualifications you decide to study. And even if you have already partly or fully completed a degree course, which is non RICS approved or in a non-surveying related subject, you can still convert to a RICS accredited post-graduate RICS approved course later on.

Technical surveyors work as hands on specialists, alongside chartered surveyors – offering support, advice and specialist knowledge. Becoming a technical surveyor will suit graduates who have a vocationally based education, who are task orientated, have tactical skill and a real attention to detail. They will generally be accomplished in specific IT applications and adept at delivering on predetermined tasks to a high standard.

This usually requires a relevant qualification followed by two years' RICS structured training, which culminates with an RICS technical assessment interview. This is known as the Assessment of Technical Competence - or ATC. The length of this structured training can be reduced depending on your precise level of working experience. Once you have gained technical membership you can, if you wish, go on to study for a bridging course to become a fully qualified Chartered Surveyor. 

Chartered property surveyors tend to specialise in one of the following areas: building surveying, commercial property, residential property or rural property. Within these areas there are yet more sub-divisions for surveyors to specialise in. For instance, a commercial specialist could choose to follow a route into property management, investment, valuation or strategic consultancy. In the rural sphere surveyors may get involved with farm or estate management, planning and development for landscaping changes or valuation of rural properties.

After studying for a relevant degree, graduates will then join a firm in order to complete the transition to chartered status. This process will take a number of years and will involve a combination of examinations (APC - Assessment of Professional Competence) and the completion of a diary or a log book which records your training progress. The APC is a competence-based assessment. Each area has a list of competences that must be achieved before you can go forward for your final assessment. Competences range from personal skills (e.g. written, graphic and oral communication) to general business skills and specific professional skills. You are also required to demonstrate detailed knowledge and understanding of a range of RICS matters such as professional ethics and the institution's bye-laws and rules of conduct.

Town planning involves making decisions about the management and development of land for the benefit of people today and in the future. The primary aim of town and regional planning is to find the balance between the conflicting demands for housing, industrial development, agriculture, recreation, the transport network and the environment etc, to allow appropriate development to take place. Town planners are at the heart of urban regeneration initiatives within cities. The need to take into account the views of a wide range of people and interest groups is thus a key aspect of a planner's role. 

There are opportunities to move between local authorities to further careers and progress up the hierarchy, perhaps as far as county planning officer. It is possible to move back and forth between sectors, local authority and consultancies or charities. Within organisations it is possible to specialise or move into management. With greater experience it is possible to join a government inspectorate, work for a quango or in a different, but related industry (market research or recreation management for example). 

Most town planners, over 60%, are employed in local government but the number of those employed in planning consultancies is growing rapidly. Planners also work for house-builders, major retailers, central government, environmental organisations, water companies, tourist authorities, business parks, the Countryside Agency and charities. Many consultancies will do some pro-bono work for community or charitable organisations who cannot afford professional fees. There are also opportunities for planners to work abroad, in Europe and further afield, especially if they are able to offer another language. 

Planners are usually engaged on direct planning work, but training and experience can open up opportunities in industrial promotion, recreation management, market research, property development, resource management and data processing using information technology. Some large organisations merge the planning and developing functions, although planners will usually work as a planner. 

Estate Agency is a wide-ranging title applied to a number of specialisms. Some estate agents specialise in the residential market, but even then, individual homes vary from studio apartments to mansions with acres of land. Some agents specialise in dealing with commercial properties such as office blocks, factories, shops and licensed premises. Others deal specifically with lettings and property management, which involves letting property and dealing with all aspects of the let - which includes in may cases the responsibility for the property on behalf of the property owner. In addition, some estate agents extend their service by offering the specialised knowledge and skills needed to carry out property auctions.

Estate agency is an almost unique form of selling. The estate agent is not selling something which belongs to them, but represents their client - the property owner. Agents act as a representative or intermediary between the owner and a possible buyer, using a mixture of skills to persuade customers to sell and buy.

Estate agents use their expertise and knowledge of local market conditions to decide a price for property or land. They advise on methods of sale, measure the property, write sale details and arrange advertising. They show the property to potential buyers and negotiate the sale on behalf of their clients, who may be the buyer or seller. The work is office-based, in office premises or an estate agents high street shop and they will also spend a good deal of time in clients homes or business premises. Estate agents may work in the Civil Service working in the Property Services Agency. Most estate agents are self employed, or partners in private firms of estate agents. Promotion to management positions may be possible. Demand for estate agents is dependent on the buoyancy of the property market and levels of construction activity. This may vary on a regional basis.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

What proportion of candidates as a percent we place into Property graduate careers and the typical qualities graduate employers look for.

GRB Placements for Property by Degree

Typical Candidate Attributes

Graduates entering the property field are expected to have excellent written and oral communication skills. A property related degree such as property, estate management, land management or investment, planning, surveying or geography will be required. You should be able to understand other people's needs, situations and predicaments. Your CVs and cover letters will need to demonstrate a variety of skills, including your academic strengths, knowledge of the industry sector,  and organisational and presentation skills.

Surveyors should be able to solve problems of a practical and technical nature. They need a detailed knowledge of construction techniques and building regulations. A methodical approach with attention to detail, and the ability to analyse information and understand architectural drawings are important. With some jobs a driving licence may be essential.

Some universities have specialist town and country planning or urban studies degrees, accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) that give you the full planning education in four years (five if on a placement course). This area of work is open to all graduates, although the following degree subjects may improve your chances of entering a career within this sector:


  • land/estate surveying
  • environmental science (physical)
  • landscape architecture/design
  • land/estate surveying
  • environmental science (biological) or ecology
  • politics/government/public administration
  • architecture
  • economics
  • geography
  • geology
  • sociology
  • surveying
  • statistics
  • transportation

One of the essential skills of an estate agent is good communication. Estate agency is a 'people' business - agents have to communicate with many different people - potential buyers and sellers, conveyances and solicitors for example - and they have to be able to communicate effectively. A house sale and purchased is usually the largest single purchase that anyone undertakes and is consequently high on the list of the recognised 'stressors' of everyday life. Good communication on the part of the agent can reduce the stress enormously, can make a sale go through more quickly and efficiently and will ensure that customers come back to the agency with more business. This communication might be face-to-face, either in the office or in people's homes - or it might be by telephone or by letter.

So, the main qualities needed in estate agency are good communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to persevere when things are moving slowly or the market is not particularly favourable.

Whilst academic qualifications are always helpful and applicable, personal qualities and abilities are the most important aspect. You also need to be literate and numerate. Becoming increasingly significant is the number of professional estate agents who have gained qualifications in their field. The increasing legislation means that agents require a good knowledge of the relevant law and it can help to be able to show clients or potential employers that you are a professional with a good knowledge of the business.

A career in estate agency can be challenging and rewarding, but there are also times when agents can find it frustrating. A long day can ensure just after the agent has done the bulk of the work and the process of legally transferring land and/or property starts. Sometimes cancellations can occur at a very late stage, about which little can be done and so those to whom a career in 'selling' appeals may need to think twice about going into estate agency, as the final results can take some time to achieve!

Sources for Further Information

Royal Town Planning Institute
Landscape Institute
Association of Residential Letting Agents
Association of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Specialists
British Institute of Facilities Management