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APC series: The APC and your career

Written by: Jen Lemen
Published on: 7 Jul 2020

Jen Lemen takes a look at the factors to consider when weighing up career and pathway choices.

Most APC candidates will have at some point asked themselves the following questions:

  • How can I ensure that I am getting the right experience?
  • How can I make the most of my current role?
  • How can I best plan for the future?
  • What if I cannot secure sufficient experience during my structured training?
  • How can I tackle challenges faced in my current role that may be affecting my chances of APC success?

We will look at four common issues that candidates face throughout their careers and give suggestions and solutions to overcome these.

1. How your choice of educational qualifications may affect your APC in the future

If you are not yet enrolled on the APC and are considering how to become a property professional, your choice of education qualifications at the outset will have a major effect on your future career progression.

Before applying for final assessment, candidates must meet the eligibility requirements set out by RICS:

  • Relevant experience and an RICS-accredited degree – generally requiring a 12- or 24-month period of structured training;
  • Five years’ relevant experience and any bachelor’s degree (ie this can be non-cognate and non-RICS-accredited) generally requiring a preliminary review submission rather than structured training; and
  • 10 years’ relevant experience if within a senior professional, specialist or academic position.

This essentially means that if you are keen to sit your APC after the minimum period of structured training, then it’s important to ensure that your degree is RICS-accredited. That said, many candidates continue training beyond the minimum structured training period to ensure they have sufficient relevant experience and feel confident to sit their final assessment interview.

Alternatively, candidates who are coming into the property profession from a non-cognate degree will need to be aware of the requirement to gain a minimum of five years’ experience, while candidates with substantial senior professional, specialist or academic experience may need no degree at all.

Candidates should also be aware of the AssocRICS qualification, which is a major achievement in its own right. It is growing in popularity for commercial property candidates, although it has traditionally been pursued by residential candidates, particularly those undertaking secured lending valuations.

AssocRICS requires:

  • One year of experience and a relevant bachelor’s degree;
  • Two years’ experience and a relevant higher/advanced/foundation qualification; or
  • Four years’ relevant experience and no educational qualifications.

RICS has also recently announced changes to the Chartered Surveyor Degree Apprenticeship to include all levels of RICS-accredited qualifications, including undergraduate, PGDip and master’s-level qualifications. Previously, only undergraduate degrees were recognised.

This will widen access to apprenticeships for non-cognate degree-holders on three apprenticeship pathways: building surveying; quantity surveying; and project management and property (ie aligned to the following APC pathways: corporate real estate; commercial real estate; land and resources; planning and development; residential; rural; and valuation).

Seeking early advice from a university or those already involved in the industry will be invaluable if you are considering your future career path. Getting it right at the start can make your route to chartership a lot smoother – although there is always likely to be something unexpected around the corner.

2. How being in a niche role may affect your pathway and competency choice

Chartered surveyors are found in many different markets, sectors and companies. This means that no one surveyor will have the same experience as another.

Although many candidates will be in general practice roles with wide-ranging experience, others will be in far more niche or specialist roles, markets or sectors.

The APC, however, can be adapted to each candidate’s specific experience and role. There are 22 APC sector pathways, including lesser-known ones such as corporate real estate, management consultancy, property finance and investment, research, taxation allowances, and valuation of businesses and intangible assets.

Each pathway follows the same mandatory competencies but will have a different set of core and optional technical competencies. This means that it is vital for candidates to select the right pathway, competencies and levels to match their role and experience. Being aware of the range of pathways available will help candidates to make an informed decision about their APC journey.

3. How the size of your firm may affect your APC

Candidates’ firms may range from working for a single chartered surveyor to being employed by a global consultancy. This will affect the experience that APC candidates will be able to gain.

Typically, in a smaller firm candidates may experience a narrower, but deeper, scope of experience. This may be due to a niche focus of the firm or specialism of more senior staff. Alternatively, within a larger firm candidates may be involved in departmental rotations. These will provide a wider breadth of experience but may limit the time spent in each area of practice or department.

In terms of the APC, candidates need to make sure that their experience meets the required competencies and levels. In a smaller firm or a niche role, candidates may wish to seek secondment opportunities, eg within a valuation department, or ask to shadow or assist with a wider range of instruction types. In a larger firm, candidates may need to ensure that they keep their knowledge base across the various competencies current and sufficiently in-depth, particularly for competencies covered in rotations earlier on in their training.

4. How can you plan ahead to seek APC success within your career?

Taking all of the above issues and concerns into account, candidates need to plan ahead to ensure that they experience an enjoyable APC journey. This will allow for sufficient experience to be gained in the required areas and for candidates to explore their potential future career direction. It is a good idea to be open to opportunities (often unexpected) that may arise and to gain as much varied experience as possible early on. This will help candidates to decide later where they may wish to specialise or focus on in terms of sector, market or instruction type.

Ensuring that wide and varied CPD is carried out can also be a great way to explore future career choices. It is also an essential part of the APC, with at least 48 hours required per year.

Jen Lemen BSc (Hons) FRICS is a co-founder of Property Elite, a chartered surveyor, a registered valuer and an APC assessor

Top assessor tips

Ryan Dunphy, senior surveyor and registered valuer at Barnsdales:

“Get off to a good start. I genuinely believe that first impressions pave the way to a successful or unsuccessful assessment. My top tip here is to record yourself in full, and whenever you are in the car, play it. Listen to it. Even speaking along with it can work wonders.

“Relax! Easier said than done. It’s important to remember the assessors are humans as well. Composing yourself and talking clearly (critical!) will do you no harm. Rushing through answers will come across as chaotic, even if you know what you’re talking about. My top tip is to practise with people you’ve never met. Ask them to sit a mock interview with you. It is the best way to replicate how you will feel in the real thing.”

Top candidate tips

Lucy Anne Johnson MRICS, chartered surveyor at Carter Jonas:

“It may not be as easy to organise mocks as when you’re in the office, but practise reading case studies and answering questions over Skype to become familiar with the communication and visuals online. My colleagues and I set up daily questioning during the week to get used to answering over camera.”

Claire Adcroft MRICS, rural chartered surveyor at Batcheller Monkhouse:

“Remember to answer each question as ‘I would’ rather than ‘We would’.”

Harry Broadbent-Combe MRICS FAAV, chartered rural surveyor at Batcheller Monkhouse:

“If you can’t remember something you know you do, be sure to make a note of it and come back to it at the end.”

Professional guidance alert

  1. From 1 June 2020, private residential landlords in England are required to carry out periodic five-yearly inspections of all electrical installations.
  2. ICS has published its Beyond Covid-19 Reopening Guides.
  3. Further guidance from RICS on Covid-19.

Further reading and resources

The quick quiz

1. What did S Franses Ltd v The Cavendish Hotel (London) Ltd [2018] UKSC 62; [2018] EGLR 4 relate to?

a) Break options
b) Lease renewal – ground f
c) Lease renewal – section 27 notices to quit

2. Is it true or false that Scotland has different quarter days to England?

a) True
b) False

3. What did CRAR replace?

a) Law of distress
b) Forfeiture
c) Money protection scheme


ANSWERS: 1. (b) Lease renewal – ground f; 2. (a) True; 3. (a) Law of distress