Career Development

What Does an Estimator Do?

Find out what an estimator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an estimator.

Estimators are responsible for estimating the cost of projects and materials. They use their knowledge of construction, engineering, and other related fields to determine how much it will cost to build a building or install a new piece of equipment.

Estimators may work directly for a company that is planning a large project, or they may work as independent contractors who provide estimates to multiple companies at once. Regardless of their role, estimators must be able to clearly communicate their findings in a way that everyone involved can understand.

Estimator Job Duties

Estimators have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Calculating labor costs for specific jobs, including the cost of materials and supplies needed
  • Reviewing bids from subcontractors for additional labor services that may be needed for a project
  • Preparing estimates based on drawings or verbal instructions from a customer rather than on site visits to the construction site itself
  • Calculating the cost of labor, equipment, materials, taxes, fees, overhead costs, profit margins, and other factors that affect project costs
  • Communicating with subcontractors to ensure that they have the necessary materials to complete a job
  • Reviewing blueprints, sketches, drawings, and other plans for projects to determine what materials will be required
  • Working with architects, engineers, contractors, vendors, or other construction professionals to manage the creation of construction plans and estimates
  • Researching current labor costs in order to provide accurate estimates of labor costs associated with projects
  • Calculating materials costs based on bids from vendors or previous purchase orders from suppliers

Estimator Salary & Outlook

The salary of an estimator can vary depending on a number of factors, including their level of experience, the size of the company they work for, and the type of project they are estimating.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of estimators is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited because many establishments that hire these workers have already implemented efficient processes for estimating projects. However, some new establishments may need estimators to help them set up their operations.

Related: In-Depth Estimator Salary Guide

Estimator Job Requirements

There are a number of qualifications required to obtain a position as an estimator. They include:

Education: Most employers require estimators to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business administration, finance or construction management. Some employers prefer to hire estimators who have a master’s degree in construction management.

Training & Experience: Most employers will require candidates to have at least two years of experience in a related field. This experience can be in a related role, such as a construction worker, or in a different industry, such as a purchasing agent.

On-the-job training is often part of the first few weeks of employment. Estimators will learn about the company’s specific processes and procedures. They will also learn about the software and computer programs the company uses.

Certifications & Licenses: While certification isn’t typically required to qualify for an estimator position, many employers prefer it, and some may even make it a required prerequisite.

Estimator Skills

Estimators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Mathematics: Estimators use mathematics to calculate the cost of materials, labor and other factors that affect the price of a project. They also use mathematics to calculate the amount of materials needed for a project. For example, an estimator might calculate the amount of wood needed to build a deck by measuring the dimensions of the deck and multiplying the length by the width to determine the square footage.

Communication: Estimators often work with other professionals in the construction industry, including architects, engineers and contractors. Effective communication is important to ensure everyone understands the scope of the project and the details of the estimate. Estimators also communicate with clients to answer questions and provide information about the project.

Organization: Estimators use organization skills to keep track of their work and the work of their team. You may use organization skills to create a schedule for your team, organize the materials needed for each task and keep track of the time it takes to complete each task. Organization skills can also help you keep track of the budget for a project.

Time management: Estimators often have multiple projects they’re working on at the same time. This means they need to prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively. For example, an estimator might be working on a bid for a new project while also working on a proposal for a current project. They need to manage their time so they can complete both projects on time.

Problem-solving: Estimators often work with contractors and subcontractors to complete projects. They may also work with engineers and architects to determine the materials needed for a project. When working with others, it’s important to be able to solve problems and find solutions that work for everyone.

Estimator Work Environment

Estimators work in a variety of settings, including construction sites, engineering firms, and manufacturing plants. They may also work in office settings, where they use computers to generate estimates. Estimators typically work full time, and some may work overtime to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful, and estimators must pay close attention to detail to avoid errors. They must also be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines.

Estimator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how estimators work. Estimators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Skills

The construction industry is increasingly relying on estimators who have a strong technical background. This is because many projects now require a more complex set of skills in order to be completed successfully.

Estimators who are able to understand the latest technologies and how they can be used in the construction industry will be in high demand, as they will be able to provide valuable insight into how projects can be completed more efficiently and effectively.

More Collaboration Between Estimators and Project Managers

As the construction industry becomes more complex, the need for collaboration between estimators and project managers will continue to grow.

This trend is being driven by the increasing complexity of projects, which requires both parties to work together in order to ensure that all aspects of the project are being managed properly. By collaborating with project managers, estimators can ensure that their estimates are accurate and that they are providing the necessary information to help manage the project.

Greater Use of Technology in the Construction Industry

The use of technology in the construction industry is growing at a rapid pace. This is due to the fact that technology can help streamline many of the tasks involved in building projects.

As the use of technology in the construction industry continues to grow, estimators will need to learn how to use these tools in order to stay competitive. This includes learning how to use software programs to track time and materials, as well as using online platforms to find jobs.

How to Become an Estimator

An estimator career path can be a great way to start your construction career. As an estimator, you’ll work with project managers and other team members to estimate the cost of building or renovating a structure. This job requires strong math skills and knowledge of building materials and techniques.

To become an estimator, you’ll need to have at least a high school diploma and some experience in construction. You can get this experience by working as a laborer on construction sites or as a carpenter. You can also take courses in construction estimating online or at a vocational school.

Related: How to Write an Estimator Resume

Advancement Prospects

Estimators who are able to produce accurate bids and cost estimates and who have good people skills often are promoted to project manager or construction manager. Some estimators become general managers of their companies.

Many estimators have a background in construction, engineering, or architecture. Some estimators start their careers as office clerks or assistant estimators and are promoted as they gain knowledge and experience.

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