Construction Estimators: What They Do and How to Become a One?

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Do you know the construction industry is skyrocketing and is about to touch $8 trillion by 2030?

The big push it expects will be because of the pandemic since it has massively hit the industry.

Not only healthcare but other sectors heavily spend on construction. Since there has been a lot of wastage, shortage of supply, or cashing out the middleman commission, an employer or construction management wants someone with knowledge of construction and who can estimate costs.

And here, the construction estimators come into the picture. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about construction estimators. It will include pointers on what they do, types, skills, roles, and responsibilities, how to become a construction estimator, challenges they face, and tools they use.

Who is Construction Estimator?

A construction estimator is a professional who prepares to estimate an overall project accurately based on drawings, budgets, requirements, and market trends. The estimate includes several project elements, such as fees, resources, and the contractor’s general conditions.

The construction estimators hold a strong knowledge of financial analysis, as well as mathematical and analytical skills. A good communication skills are also important to market your construction business because construction estimators constantly work with vendors, architects, engineers, and other skilled professionals.

Moreover, a construction estimator needs to have a keen eye for project details to create an accurate estimate. They predict the project’s cost and give both the client and the company an approximate estimate and other financial risks.

Calculating manpower, materials, and time is not the only task of a construction estimator. Sometimes he also needs to present the reports and detailed cost proposals in the most convincing and simplified manner to make key people involved in the project understand the particulars.

The construction estimators are very good with statistical interpretation and data analysis as it is the core subject of their work, enabling them to provide valuable suggestions and cost-cutting techniques.

What Does a Construction Estimator Do?

Estimators have to consider every aspect of a project, like material, cost, size, and deadline, to calculate cost estimation. The professional has to set up a cost monitoring system and reporting process.

Multiple duties, such as negotiating, advising on the project, construction management, and ​​evaluating tenders, come under the construction estimator’s profile. Hence, it implies the value and contribution estimator provided by the company.

The construction estimator also works with engineers, architects, subcontractors, project owners, and other contractors to conduct and adjust cost estimates. Moreover, they ensure that work and financial transactions are going as per plan.

Now that you know what a construction estimator does, let’s discuss different types of estimators.

Types of Estimators

The types of construction estimators are divided into three categories. Although the way of how to calculate construction cost is similar, the use of estimation is different for each.

1. Client’s cost estimator

The construction estimator is important from the initial stage of the project. In this category, the primary reasons for estimation are to meet clients’ expectations, negotiate costs, and control the budget.

It is usually applied to smaller jobs like house construction or a block. Eventually, it helps finalize the contract with the best quality and amount. You must also learn how to make a contract agreement to win more clients.

2. Contractor’s cost estimator

In this category, the focus is to fit the contractor’s scope of work and make a profit out of it. Here, the cost estimation is accurate, professional, and competitive. The contractor tries to manage project deadlines along with profit.

It is based on work and resources like man, materials, and machines. The contractor is looking to bid for the work that they can accomplish.

3. Engineer’s cost estimator

The cost estimator is used when the present idea of the engineer does not work out for the project. The estimator helps to manage the project, from the location to logistics. It is a blueprint or draft of the project.

It is also considered an alternative construction method for construction projects.

Once you are clear on types, let’s dive into the skills you will require to become a construction estimator.

Skills Required to Become a Construction Estimator

Being a construction estimator means getting a good amount of pay. But to reach that position, you need to get yourself upskilled.

So what are those skills? Let’s find out.

  • Technical aptitude: To provide precise building cost estimation, construction estimators must be competent in using computers and good at mathematical calculations.
  • Analytical skills: Construction estimators must be capable enough to make cost estimates without all the necessary data and take any variations into consideration when doing calculations.
  • Problem-solving abilities: Construction cost estimators must be able to solve problems creatively and economically in order to provide an accurate estimate.
  • Meticulousness: Construction cost estimators must make accurate estimates, so it’s critical that they pay close attention to every little detail to avoid mistakes that might raise the project cost.
  • Time management skills: When calculating and delivering estimates for construction projects, construction cost estimators sometimes face a tight timeline. Therefore, proper time management skills are necessary to be one of the renowned professional estimators.

Having these skills means winning half the battle. The other half you win when you are aware of the roles and responsibilities of a construction estimator.

Roles & Responsibilities of a Construction Estimator

The construction estimator is entitled to perform certain duties. So let’s understand the job description in detail.

  • Collect imperative documents related to construction project drawings, project specs, and property plans.
  • Study those documents and layouts, meet with different clients, and evaluate construction sites to understand the actual requirement.
  • Sorting out the best possible human resource, construction materials, machinery, and personal protective equipment vendors.
  • Maintain a directory of companies supplying contractors, materials, and equipment.
  • Collecting quotes from different vendors, negotiating, and finalizing one.
  • Prepare proposed project cost and time estimate.
  • Drafting construction project proposals that include labor, material, and machinery costs.
  • Scheduling meetings with potential clients to discuss offers and contract bids
  • Advising on the tendering process.
  • Discuss with contractors, architects, owners, and subcontractors and compile detailed cost monitoring proposals.
  • Preparing construction site progress report.

Below is the step-wise guide to becoming a fully-skilled and highly-paid construction estimator. So, let’s learn how to become a construction estimator in four steps.

4 Simple Steps to Become a Professional Construction Estimator

The construction estimator’s job is to offer the right costing of the project. It means he/she should be well-versed with every single rate related to construction, irrespective of material or labor. And it can be acquired through education and experience.

steps to become a construction estimator

Here we will discuss the process of becoming a professional construction estimator. It will help you stand out from the rest of the inexperienced planners.

1. Get learnings

According to the U.S. U.S bureau of labor statistics, construction employment firms give priority to many construction estimators who have at least a bachelor’s degree in construction management, structural or civil engineering, or quantity surveying.

During your course tenure, you will be trained in various subjects, such as:

  • construction methods and materials
  • mathematics
  • building codes
  • construction law

Employers seek individuals who are good at cost estimating. Or the one who can prepare in-depth proposals.

Useful Information

  • Opt for the bachelor’s degree that makes you learn financial, analytical, and essential construction math skills since it is going to be the demanding one on construction projects.
  • Get training under any construction work to get practical knowledge while you are still learning.

2. Earn while you learn (Apprentice)

As discussed in the above point, you need to start looking for a job at an entry-level position in any construction company to get practical knowledge. You get paid for the role you are assigned. Plus, you also get the exact knowledge about how a construction estimator should act and perform his/her duties in construction firms.

3. Get certificates

Certificates act as proof of the abilities of construction estimators. Employers would want to hire construction professionals that have received certificates in the construction estimation field.

Here are some suggestions for the institutes that can help you attain certification:

You can enroll in The American Society of Professional Estimators since they provide the certificate of Professional Estimator’s designation. This certification requires:

  • 5 years of job experience
  • Good communication skills and technical writing knowledge
  • Workshop participation & completion
  • Attending exam

Another one is through the Association of Advancement of Cost Engineering. You can receive the Certified Estimating Professional certificate. But for this, you need to have:

  • 8 years of work experience or education
  • Should pass an exam conducted by the Association

Lastly, you can also receive certification from the Society of Cost Estimating & Analysis. You are required to have:

  • 7 years of experience
  • Or equivalent experience and education

4. Get a master’s degree

You should not only limit yourself to an undergraduate degree; you must opt for master’s degree to upgrade your skills to the next level. For leveling up or getting a promotion in the construction estimator’s field, for instance, as construction managers, you need either a master’s degree or certifications. It takes about 2 years to advance your construction estimator career path.

Now that you know how to become a construction estimator, let’s also know their duties.

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Common Challenges of an Estimator

1. Primary challenges

Like any other job profile in the construction industry, an estimator’s role is also very demanding as it comes with many challenges every day. The basic challenges involved in an estimator’s work are the constraints of time and budget. Sometimes, clients and designers have impressive requirements with a restricted budget line, making an estimator’s work more troublesome.

2. Rework related issues

He needs to make constant changes in material, quality, quantity, procurement, and rates according to the demand that arises on the site, and that’s how his estimation report works with multiple cost adjustments in one project lifecycle.

3. Problems associated with market

The market never remains the same, and that’s why rates of labor and resources are always fluctuating. When an estimator is first working on a project, he has to consider the latest data and market scenarios which also requires him to stay constantly updated with the market.

4. Other challenges

Another difficulty is the difference between theoretically accounted material and practically implemented material. The unpredictable nature of the construction industry invites sudden changes and quick decisions, which may lead to differences in data between the initial report and the final report. Thus, an estimator needs to consider every shift and break before and during the project to improve accuracy.

Tools Construction Estimators Use

Construction estimators use some beneficial tools to make their daily work more organized and efficient. A large portion of their time is dedicated to calculations and statistical reporting, which can become easier and more accurate with the help of the latest tools.

The first and most common tool used in the estimation department is a spreadsheet. It helps to make calculations and prepare basic invoices. However, if you are looking for a quicker process, construction estimator software like InvoiceOwl would be helpful.

It reduces your paperwork and creates more precise estimates in lesser time.

What is the Average Wage for Construction Estimators?

An estimator’s yearly compensation now averages $67,000 but has a ceiling of $156,000.
State-specific pay scales and a person’s credentials both influence salary. It is advisable to examine the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for statistics on wages before accepting a job. It is because many organizations offer salaries at drastically different rates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will offer recommendations for fair pay and standard earnings and will inform you of what salary should be appropriate for the position.

Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What is a construction estimator?

      A construction estimator is a professional who determines the total cost of the construction project. The estimator calculates and creates an estimation report in the initial stage of the project.

    1. What are the duties of the construction estimator?

      The construction estimator performs the following duties:

      • The estimator prepares and estimates the budget cost by planning and calculating resources.
      • They evaluates what to purchase by site requirements and costing charges.
      • Make a report about the entire construction budget.
      • Analyze and resolve cost differences.

    1. What is the average salary of a construction estimator?

      An entry-level construction estimator earns more than $50,000 per year. And an experienced construction estimator can get a job of more than $70,000 annually.

    1. Is a construction estimator a good career path?

      Yes, the demand for the construction estimator is going to spike in the near future, and it will last long. Even currently, there are many construction estimator jobs available ready to pay a lucrative salary. There is also project management software that makes your work easy.

  1. How to become a construction estimator?

    To become a construction estimator, you can choose from several different routes. You need to be persistent and motivated to advance because most jobs often demand some experience.

We hope that you will find our blog useful in addressing your question on how to become a construction estimator.

Construction estimating is a crucial role due to its nature of being precise and paying attention to every single detail. Plus, this job demands knowledge of certain spheres like accounting, costing, and engineering. Since accuracy is highly prioritized due to invoicing, payments, and credits, taking advantage of technology would be a good deal

A construction quoting software like InvoiceOwl helps you track every single payment, receipt, and credit-related query. and explore how invoicing becomes a cakewalk.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the founder of InvoiceOwl, a top-rated estimating and invoicing software that simplifies the invoicing and estimating processes for contractor businesses. Jeel holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from the University of Toronto, which has provided him with a strong foundation in business principles and practices. With understanding of the challenges faced by contractors, he conducted extensive research and developed a tool to streamline the invoicing and estimating processes for contractors. Read More

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