Quantity Surveyor, Construction

Ng Cheng Yee, 2002, 5Sc1

With bad STPM results, I didn’t qualify for any local universities.
But I had no money for private uni’s, so…
I worked as a croupier at a casino in Genting
for 1.5 years to earn money for college.

My Journey

In 2002, I was in 5Sc1. I was 17. I was not mature enough to decide my future. So, I passed on the problem to my parents.

Unfortunately, my parents were not highly educated;
they did not know the best path for me either.  :(

Like many other parents, my mother and father thought that only doctors, lawyers and engineers can make “big money” (an opinion that I don’t really agree with).

My strongest subject was Math; I was not good at memorization and I did not like things that were “fixed”. I liked numbers and liked solving all sorts of math problems. So, I ended up in the Physics stream at F6, Sam Tet.

With my bad STPM results, I did not qualify for ANY of the local universities. It was like the end of the world for me because I had no money for private colleges.

So, I worked in a Casino at Genting Highlands for 1.5 years
to save money for tuition fees in a private college. I gained a lot of
life experience from working as a croupier at Genting.

Source: www.washingtonbrown.com.au

Before I left F6 though, I had a -to- talk with an AMC senior about my future. I told her I would like to develop my skills in an area that is related to numbers, but not in accountancy. She recommended that I do Quantity Surveying. This is a profession within the construction industry that is mainly related to costs and contracts on construction projects.

I finally entered TARC for a Quantity Surveying when I was 21 years old. In TARC, I was one of the eldest students in the course. Tutors at TARC can easily distinguish those who graduated from STPM, vs those who came straight from SPM. Of course it wasn’t because we looked “old” It was because we were more mature.

Most of my course-mates had just graduated from SPM. But it was very sad to hear that many of them did not really know what the course was about.  :?   Some chose the course because their parents asked them to do so, others joined because they were simply following their friends. When I saw this, I strongly realized the difference between those who did SPM vs. those who did STPM.

Sheffield Hallam University (Source: ElectronicsInfoDesk.Blogspot.Com)

I graduated with a Diploma in 2.5 years. TARC has collaboration / partnership programs with foreign universities and institutions. I joined Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) UK to complete a one-semester conversion program for a BSc Hons in Quantity Surveying studies. The 3-month program in the UK cost ~RM30k (very $$$!!!). But I am glad I did it.   In 3 months, you don’t get to learn a lot from books, but the experience living in a foreign country was worth it. The exposure to the culture, the weather, the lifestyle in the UK made it one of the most precious memories of my life.

Today, if an SPM graduate asked me my opinion about further studies, I would strongly encourage them to do Form 6. At 17/18 years old, it’s really hard to know what you want, especially when the school system does not allow or encourage exploration of subjects. The 2 years spent doing STPM will really give you time to grow and mature, so that you can make better informed decisions about your life.

Also, it is very important that you reach out to seniors, and ask questions. I would not have heard about Quantity Surveying if I did not ask that senior for help. :)

No question is a stupid one, and
we have all been in your shoes before.

If you have questions about quantity surveying, finances or my journey, please feel free to contact me. It took me a long time to get to where I am today. And I have no regrets, because what’s most important is the life experience that I have gained, from AMC/F6 to Genting to TARC/UK to Singapore. I hope that I can help students who are still “blur” about their future before it’s too late. I don’t wish to see younger ones take such a long and winding journey like myself.


Cheers! ;)

Cheng Yee


Click here to read about what I do as a Quantity Surveyor!

A quantity surveyor (QS) works in the construction field. A QS estimates the costs of construction materials and labor activities for building projects. The estimated costs provided by the QS will be used by contractors to submit proposals (also known as tenders) for projects.

Developers or owners of the development choose the contractor with the best tender (lowest price and best supporting construction team) to execute and develop the project.

If we are awarded the building project  :D   the QS is involved in the decision making process throughout the project, from initial inception to final completion.

More specifically, the QS helps to manage the project by performing valuations, variations control (make sure nothing is out of the ordinary), administrating formation of contracts / subcontracts and assessment of claims. Occasionally, the QS is also responsible for the collection of operating and maintenance manuals.

Although a QS can be flooded with paperwork, I have never regretted my decision. We all must be responsible for our choices in life.  :)


(Originally published on Sept 23, 2011)


  1. Hi, I’m a diploma student from tarc college. I’m undergoing the last semester of diploma currently. However, I’m bothered if to continue advanced diploma and also the 3 months top up degree in uk. Because sister of a friend of mine ( working in Singapore currently ) saying that the 3 months degree certificate is not recognized by mostly the company in Singapore . Is this a fact? And even some of the company in Malaysia they don’t recognize the degree certificate as ppl study their degree for at least 2-4 years but we get our degree certificate with only 3 months time. Any advise could be provided? Thank you :) :)

  2. Hi Vivienne, sorry for the late reply.
    Not every firm and company will recognize our degree certification in Malaysia and Singapore. As I know, most consultant firms don’t recognize the cert. Not to worry too much, as all your certificates will be most ‘valuable’ during your first job interview session. For the rest of your working life, employer will only looking into your working experience, attitude, etc.
    The 3 months top up degree really can’t learn much about theory but you will learn something that you wouldn’t able to get it from book. Everything also have its pro and con, and it really depends on what you really want. In my opinion, if your family’s financial is able to support you for the 3 months in UK, just go ahead to enjoy your life! It will be great memory for your life!

  3. Hi, I’m currently doing A Level at Tenby consisting 3 subjects, which are Mathematics, Economics and Accounting. I like calculation and job which isn’t “fixed”, which is the reason why QS would be under consideration for my path after A Level. However, the subject requirement would be the concern base because I have zero background for physics. Could you tell me more about QS course? Thank you. :)

  4. I also want to continue study at oversea under tarc within 3months for degree, but i have problem about financial, can i get ptptn loan or whatsoever? Is it difficult to get loan?

  5. Hi Cheng Yee, my son(TARC studying Business & Investment) will be leaving for Sheffield Hallam U this early June ’13. As a mum, I kinda worry abt it coz this is the 1st time he board a flight to a faraway land. Could you kindly brief slightly about the (1)do’s n don’ts and also (2)what to look up/explore while there? Is there any posting/blog where I can look up in regards abt yoiur 3 months there?
    Tks alot

  6. hi! I would like to ask the pathway of taking QS after stpm… Do i straight continue my degree?

  7. hi!I am a F6 student,I am also having the difficulty to study in sc cls..i am so struggle!
    actually,I like Math so much,my teacher had told me about QS,but because i dun knw what the course is…so i decide to ignore it..till now i feel regret tat i didnt chose my fav sub but the weak sub i had chose :(

  8. Hi.. im tarc student..im taking degree qs ..but now im so stress..some prob on final project,.. can u help me?

  9. Cn i ask about qs this course at tarc in setapak whether wil transfer to other branch of tarc??

  10. I am also in your case. I had no career orientation before. I chose my last graduation from a job that suits me

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