Assessment of Professional Competence Training (APC)
Are you thinking of becoming a Chartered Surveyor? Do you want to become a member of the RICS
The route to becoming a Chartered Surveyor is called the Assessment of Professional Competence, also known as the APC. To pass the APC you must have the necessary experience in a Property Job, have an RICS accredited degree and achieved the necessary standard of knowledge and professionalism to pass the final interview . Working on the APC and the RICS accredited degree can be done simultaneously, or the degree can be followed by the property job experience.
Why do it? Becoming a surveyor is the pinnacle for the Chartered Surveyor and should lead to greater earning potential in the property job market.
How to join: choose your route
Choose the route to APC qualification best suits your experience.
Structured training - There are 2 options:
1. 24-month structured training
- You have an RICS-accredited degree but less than 5 years of experience.
- You are studying a part-time RICS-accredited degree and in full-time employment.
- 12-month structured training
- You have more than 5 years of experience and an RICS-accredited degree.
What to consider before committing to becoming a surveyor and when .
Your working life will hopefully be a long one. With that in mind it is important to give considerable thought to what career will work for you and indeed with the property industry having such breadth, it is important to identify your interests and abilities as soon as possible. You will have opportunities to make these decisions when choosing your degree or choosing whether to have a work placement. Further considerations may be what type of degree or work placement and even which first graduate job to go for. In this day and age people change careers more regularly than ever before, so even if you are not working in property, there may well be opportunities to move into the property industry. Take time in choosing the job that works for you, or indeed the first step in the pathway to where you want to be.
Before taking these steps, do your research. If you are thinking of becoming a chartered surveyor, then even before you are eligible to start the APC, you can get a student membership from the RICS. This will enable access to the RICS.org website, and the free information contained in the website. Talk to recruiters and chartered surveyors in the industry and ask them to share their knowledge of the property industry. This will help you understand some of the different options out there; residential or commercial property, industrial or office sector and even whether the public or the private sector is for you. If you are able to get onto a graduate scheme, you are likely to get the chance to try a number of different roles and sectors, which will give you both a wide experience, and also help you find what you are good at and what you enjoy.
Understand the APC is both a process and a test of competence.
It is 24 months of learning on the job as well as logging a diary and providing evidence to show that you are at a suitable level of competence so that the RICS will allow you to become a chartered surveyor. There is a process of writing a diary, getting competences signed off, and producing a piece of work. This must be both a strong report that highlights your core competences, and a presentation with an interview that shows your achievement and professionalism. You need to keep the administration under control and on time. This is down to yourself and needs organisation and fore-thought.
You will need to make sure you have read and fully understand the RICS APC Guides on the RICS website, and these should be re-read regularly as you go through the APC. As this is the criteria that you are being asked to obtain, it needs to be fresh in your mind when you start the competency and looked at again to make sure you have achieved it. There are companies who specialise in supporting candidates through the APC; if you are looking to start your APC, I would suggest investing in their assistance.
Get the right property job.
Part of the criteria for starting and ultimately passing the APC is reliant on being in the right property job. The experience needs to be relevant to the pathway that you have chosen and you can only start your APC if you are employed in a relevant surveying role, gaining the experience expected for the pathway you intend to follow. Ask questions of your prospective employer. What support do they provide to get you through the APC? Have they got a supportive APC process in place? Will they assist in the provision of a supervisor? It is also beneficial if your employer provides a structured training plan. RICS training advisers can assist and advise employers regarding any aspect of the APC process.
Expect to Lead.
It is your APC. Your employer will hopefully assist, but expect to lead with you supervisor and mentor. You will be relying on them and not vice versa; they will have their own jobs to do, so be prepared to get in touch and be the instigator when advice or a signature is needed. Controlling the APC process is also part of the learning curve and proof of professionalism. Don't just think about doing something, pick up the phone and send the email. Start, dive in, do not procrastinate. Keep your diary up to date. Do regular weekly updates so your work is fresh in your mind and any gaps are noticed early on. You can then request tasks to cover any experience gaps. If there is a piece of work that would sit really well with helping you achieve your competences and/or is a good example for a critical analysis, make this clear and see if your employer will let you run with it.
Understanding your competences is like understanding your clients instruction.
When dealing with an instruction you need to know your client as well as understand what they are asking you to do. You may need to ask questions or get clarifications. Knowledge of your client adds context to the instruction, further questions leads to clarification. With that in mind, get to know the RICS codes and competences and their levels. There are 3 levels for each competences, level 1 - Learn, level 2 - Do and Level 3 - Advise. The highest level is achieved when you can advise on the competency. Learn how to do it first, then put it in to action, repeat until you are confident that you can advise on the property competency. You have some choice as to which level you will complete the competences. Choose wisely. To be able to choose wisely, you also need to know the RICS. To do this, find experienced RICS members as well as newly qualified chartered surveyors. This will help both in the wider challenge of being a good surveyor as well as getting guidance from those who are recently qualified with the APC process fresh in their mind. Learn from their APC successes and mistakes. There are also RICS networking and CPD events that can help you meet with people in the property industry.
CPD is both great for learning, but also mandatory.
Structured training candidates need to achieve a minimum of 48 hours of CPD per year. (96 hours of training undertaken during the last 24 months, if you are undertaking 24 month structured training). All candidates should read the APC Candidates’ Guide and fully understand how to record CPD, and differentiate between formal and informal CPD.
You will need to complete a Summary of experience and choose a Critical Analysis / Case Study.
The case study is the opportunity to effectively showcase the key elements of competency knowledge and experience.
- Summary of experience:brief statement for each level of competence required for your pathway. Mandatory competencies (1,500 words) and technical competencies (3,000 to 4,000 words)
- Case study:3,000 words on a recent project that shows your technical abilities. The project should not be older than 24 months.
The case study will become the basis of the 10-minute presentation in your final assessment and the assessors will take time to read and question you on it.
Do not leave everything to the last minute.
You will need to rely on the signatures and support of your supervisor and mentor. You also will be doing this work on top of your day job. Little and often is the key, set reminders in your work diary to update notes, and indeed put deadlines for each piece of writing. Give yourself plenty of time to produce the case study, this will allow time for feedback from other surveyors as well as mock interviews based upon your report. If you are on the 24-month APC training process, start the outline around month 15 and have a final draft by month 18. Ask colleagues to read, surveyors and non-surveyors. This will identify any typos, logic errors and give feedback over style and content. You want to make sure the document you hand has no mistakes in it. After all, if there are mistakes in it, you will have to explain why in the interview.
The APC interview is challenging, the case study needs time spent on it. Do not rush into the APC final assessment.
Just because you have finished the minimum amount of work to sit the APC, does not mean you are ready. Ask colleagues, speak to your supervisor, what do they think? What do you think? If you are ready then great, otherwise defer until you are. And remember to tell the RICS if you are deferring.
Decided to do it?
You must be happy with your case study and know it back to front. From that knowledge you now start developing the presentation. It is 10 minutes. Rremember, it is 10 minutes. Much longer and you may be cut off. Practice it, repeat it, present to colleagues, family, those inside and outside of the property industry. Time yourself. Work out what you need to explain the subject. Hand-outs? Flip-charts? Keep it simple, and make it look professional. Little hint, if you need a flip-chart, get a small one that allows you sit behind it. Have copies of the flipchart pages facing you at the same time. This means you see what they see and it assists in keeping your place. Don't read it as a script, use the points to lead you through the topic, this should help you stick to time. Did I mention it was 10 minutes... Present as a professional. Dress smartly, smile, good eye contact, present to all in the room and sit up or stand up straight.
Basic APC final interview format.
First of all, get there early, you don't want to be stressed by rushing. Ideally familiarise yourself with the place beforehand. On arrival at the APC venue, first find and sign in the at the RICS reception. They will then show you to the waiting room.
There are usually 3 assessors, sometimes 2, including the chairman. The chairman will lead and introduce you to the APC assessment process. After the brief introduction from the chairman, it is time for the 10 minute APC presentation, then its 5-10 minutes of questions related to the presentation and case study. After that it is 30 minutes on questions related to your competencies, these are knowledge and experience based questions. The final part will be questions regarding rules of conduct and ethics. Although that is the last section, the panel may have some further questions on points raised that need clarification or that had not been answered earlier in the APC assessment.
It’s done, but remember…
Be polite and professional from beginning to end, including when you leave. If it went well, smile and be confident as you leave, if you think it did not go as well as you had hoped, smile and be professional as you leave and either way, thank the APC panel for their time, they are not there for the money.
Pass or fail, think about the next steps in your career, either as a qualified surveyor who should be getting a pay rise, or if you have been referred, consider if a different job would help you get through the APC.
If you already have a qualification and are wondering if it qualifies or part qualifies you to apply for your APC, please look at the list below. This is a list of qualifications for those looking to join the RICS using credentials they already have. Below are the routes available and the qualifications considered to exempt you from some parts of the APC.
- You have 5 or more years of experience and a degree, or are already a member of another approved professional body. You can enroll at any time, but must have 12 months of experience post degree or qualification when you apply for final assessment.
Association of Cost Engineers (ACostE) – Member (MACostE)
Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM, formerly known as BIFM) – Member or Certified Member with either the IWFM / BIFM Level 6 Diploma or BIFM Level 7 Diploma
Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE) – C. Build E MCABE designation
Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT) – Chartered Architectural Technologist (MCIAT)
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) – Member (MCIOB) Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) – Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner
Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) – Chartered Member (CIHCM)
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) – Chartered Global Management Accountant
Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) – Chartered Member (MCIWEM)
Energy Institute (EI) – Member (MEI)
Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales (ICAEW) or Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland (ICAS) – Chartered Accountant
Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM) – Full Member (MIEEM)
Institute of Engineering Technology (IET, formerly the Institute of Electrical Engineers)
Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) – Member Grade (MIEMA)
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) – Full Member
Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) – Full Member
Institution of Structural Engineers (ISE) – Chartered Member
Landscape Institute (LI) – Chartered Member
Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) – Chartered Environmental Health Officer
Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA) – Chartered Member
Royal Incorporation of Architects for Scotland (RIAS) – Chartered Member
Royal Geographical Society (RGS) – Chartered Geographer
Planning Institute (RTPI) – Chartered Member
- Your existing professional qualifications or membership of another professional body exempt you from some of the RICs entry criteria.