The tragic collapse of a To Kwa Wan building in January 2011 has triggered debate on building maintenance and safety, leading to calls for building surveyors who can take charge of building redesign and renovation.
Indeed, Arthur Cheung, associate director at Ample Surveyor Services, anticipates bright prospects for the sector as the number of infrastructure and urban renewal projects in Hong Kong grows.
"There are plenty of career options. The Housing Authority, Urban Renewal Authority, surveyor firms, developers, project management companies and building consultant firms are all seeking surveyors," he says.
To work as a surveyor, one needs a degree in surveying. Local universities such as the City University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the University of Hong Kong offer relevant programmes.
The first rung on the career ladder is assistant building surveyor. After two years of work experience, and completion of the Assessment of Professional Competence by the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, a surveyor will become a member of the institute, the industry's accreditation body. With another year, a surveyor can become a registered professional surveyor.
Newly hired assistant building surveyors mainly work on operational duties such as on-site surveying and writing reports. After gaining professional qualifications, they can become a building surveyor, meeting with clients and contractors.
Building surveyors advise clients on design and need to monitor the work of contractors to make sure they meet deadlines and are adhering to the design plan. "It is a people's job. You need to enjoy talking to people as surveyors talk with clients all the time to create designs for them. Building surveyors often visit construction sites and visit clients' offices," says Cheung.
"One has to pay attention when looking for defects in buildings. A passion for architecture is certainly an advantage," he adds.
A senior building surveyor handles managerial duties and finding business. Those with more than 10 years' experience can move up to associate director level, handling management and business development. Directors usually have more than 15 years of experience.
Newcomers start on HK$12,000 to HK$17,000. Registered professionals can earn HK$35,000 with HK$42,000 for senior surveyors.