Opportunities for middle managers are good, and senior quantity surveyors have a good chance of finding interesting work overseas. British-trained surveyors also have a very good reputation abroad. In fact, consultants of all types are highly mobile; consultancy firms tend to be smaller than contractors but you'll find a lot have international offices. In the Far East there are good opportunities for all sorts of professionals – providing you've got around 10 years' experience.
So where should younger, less experienced professionals try their hand?
Try the Caribbean and West Indies. There is less emphasis there on having years of experience and a lot of clients seem to prefer employing single people – maybe because they are easier to accommodate. It can also be easier to cope with work in a hardcore country as a single person.
I once worked in Nicaragua as an engineer – it was quite hard going and would have been difficult to have a family or partner with me.
How important is it to speak your host country's language?
It's likely that a fair amount of your time will be spent dealing with local subcontractors so it is really useful – and sometimes essential – to speak the lingo. A lot of companies will provide some form of tuition to help you get ahead – and there are always teach-yourself books!
How easy is it to arrange documentation like visas, and negotiate flights home?
Visas are always dealt with by the sponsor company and can often be arranged at short notice. You can get a work visa for the United Arab Emirates within 24 hours. The Bahamas is one notable exception – it can take weeks to get a visa and you need to get a police report to prove you don't have a criminal record. As for flights, European-based firms will often have a set amount of flights you can take home during a year, or however long you're staying. Asian companies tend to be more open to negotiation.
How easy is it to arrange to take your partner overseas?
Usually this shouldn't be a problem. But in Saudi Arabia there's no way you'll be able to arrange it if you're not married – you can take a spouse but not a partner. Elsewhere in the Middle East, taking a boyfriend or girlfriend with you shouldn't be an issue.
Which countries have the strongest recruitment markets?
The Middle East continues to offer the most prospects – especially for projects to do with oil and gas. No surprises there! But it's worth noting that there's also a very active leisure sector. More and more countries are looking to develop their tourism industries and hotels are needed for all the foreign workers who go over to work on the big projects.
Where are the developing markets?
In Eastern Europe and Russia (especially Moscow) more companies are looking to break into facilities management, meaning lots of opportunities there. If you're feeling very adventurous, there are major infrastructure projects, mainly funded by the World Bank, in Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and other parts of the developing world. Long-term, China will become a major market for construction professionals.