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.

Any perks?

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.

Nick Rowling

Age 24
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