Leaving school at 16 hasn’t stopped Nick Rowling from pursuing a career as a building surveyor
Did you take a conventional A-levels and university route into surveying?
No, I left school at 16 and went to work for Kvaerner, an engineering and construction company that was based in the area. I had been planning to go to college but Kvaerner did a recruitment presentation at my school and I thought it looked like something I wanted to do.
Did this allow you to gain a better grasp of working in construction?
Absolutely. It was a tough time as I spent every Monday and two nights a week studying. Ultimately, though, this allowed me to obtain qualifications while I got actual working experience. After working for about four years I decided to go to university and get a degree.
What led you to that decision?
I’d been doing a lot of piping design on Teesside, but the work was getting a bit repetitive. I thought a degree would allow me to do more varied work.
Was it strange going to university a few years after everybody else?
I thought I’d feel a bit older, but I found it quite surprising. There were quite a few older students.
How did you get involved with EC Harris?
I originally joined EC Harris for a work placement in my third year at Northumbria University. I have now started a full-time contract there and will complete the final year of my degree at Northumbria part-time. That will mean I go to university for one day a week for two years. The benefit for me is that I get paid while I complete my studies.
What’s the best thing about surveying?
I think the lifestyle of a typical surveyor is good. Surveying is generally a nine-to-five job but you do get the chance to travel about and I’m out
of the office on a regular basis. I also get the weekends to myself and this allows me to play football every Sunday and pursue other interests.
What have you been doing today?
I was out of the house at 8am and went straight on site for 9am, where I conducted an access audit for a pub in Newcastle. Next week I’m surveying pubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Yeah, we will have a meal there if the survey is still going on during lunchtime.
And after lunch?
I’ll go back to the office to type up my notes and I will create CAD drawings of the survey. I’ve been working with CAD software for about eight years so I can produce a wide range of drawings. I finish work at about 5.30 and either walk home or go into the city.
Employment history Initially worked for Kvaerner after leaving school at 16. Joined EC Harris as a building surveyor in 2003
Qualifications HNC, ONC and City & Guilds qualifications in construction. Is in the fourth year of a degree in building surveying at Northumbria University
Lives Newcastle, with his wife
Hobbies Plays football twice a week