From carpentry to quantity surveying

Richard Miller
  • Quantity surveyor, Mainzeal Property and Construction Ltd

Graduating in Quantity Surveying from the Open Polytechnic has helped Richard Miller change his career from carpentry to quantity surveying.

“I wanted a recognised qualification that would give me good career opportunities within the construction industry. I worked as a carpenter since I left school so I had a good level of background knowledge, along with my studies, to help me in my new role as a quantity surveyor for Mainzeal Property and Construction Ltd,” says Richard.

As part of his role, Richard is working on a $35 million project. “I’m responsible for the finances of the project, letting of subcontract packages, pricing variations, submitting payment claims, liaising between client, architects and subcontractors, negotiation, as well as many other tasks,” he says.

Distance learning the right choice

Completing the qualification in four years, Richard says distance learning was the right choice for him and gave him the ability to continue working while raising a family.

“I could fit it in between working and do it in big bursts. I tended to do my study in the weekends and my wife was great as she would take our two kids out so I could have time to study. My family was very supportive, that was the key.”

Studying had its challenges, however, and finding the self motivation to keep going sometimes proved difficult.

“There were periods of ups and downs, for example, it was a bit more difficult when you’d want to ask a question. You just have to get into the mood and groove and get through it.” If Richard needed help at any time, he could contact his tutor through email or by calling them on the free-phone number.

Study benefits work

A benefit of working while studying, Richard found, was that much of what he was learning matched what he was doing at work.

“All of the papers had their own benefit. I have a lot more understanding of the other trades now and I can apply myself to higher levels. There are definite benefits to studying as you think more about your job and your vision of understanding increases, which has a huge impact.”

Richard's advice

His advice to other students is to remain positive especially when studying becomes difficult.

“In order to progress with my study I always had two to three courses on the go concurrently. I found that this way, I did not have time to wait for a response or assignment marks as I always had something to do and no excuse not to do something. But if you feel you need a wee break, take it, as you will come back refreshed.

“The rewards upon completion of your study are worth all of the hard work.”


All of the papers had their own benefit. I have a lot more understanding of the other trades now and I can apply myself to higher levels.