What Does a Construction Estimator Do?

Date: 23 Nov 2022

Did you know that the U.S. construction industry was valued at nearly $1.4 trillion? Due to the rising population and aging infrastructure, there are many projects that need construction or refurbishment. Some of these projects include roads, bridges, homes, schools, and hospitals.

When you think of the construction industry, the builders and workers might be the first people that come to mind. However, the estimation phase is just as important, as this phase determines the budget and schedule. The person in charge of this process is often called a construction estimator.

If you want to learn more about the construction estimator job description, keep reading.

What Does a Construction Estimator Do?

construction estimator, who may also go by the title of cost estimator, estimates the time, money, materials, and labor required for a project. At the beginning of a project, they are responsible for establishing the budget. This estimate could be used to bid for a project so making an accurate projection is essential.

During the project, a construction estimator might have to update their project based on unforeseen factors or new work tasks that arise on a project. They also help ensure that a project stays on budget.

The estimates are performed with software and using comps for items like labor and materials. Most of the work is done in an office environment but sometimes a construction estimator must travel to a worksite.

What Are the Education and Experience Requirements?

Most estimators have a bachelor’s degree in a closely-related field, such as construction or engineering. In some cases, working in construction might negate the need for a degree. Regardless of their educational background, prospective construction estimators almost always receive on-the-job training.

Experienced engineers and construction professionals, especially individuals with management experience, could make the career change with minimal additional education.

Both individuals with and without experience in construction wishing to work as an estimator can consider professional certification. The American Society of Professional Estimators offers a nationally recognized credential. To earn it, you need to pass several online courses.

Who Do Construction Estimators Work With?

While these professionals can interact with the rank-and-file construction personnel, much of their time is spent with managers and other higher-level personnel. Construction estimators can work across disciplines, interacting with construction professionals and engineers, but may also work with financial and purchasing professionals.

Depending on the corporate structure, a construction estimator may report to a project manager or director. Senior-level personnel may report to a vice president or even a chief executive.

What Types of Skills Must Construction Estimators Have?

Construction estimators are detail oriented and observant. They have to be adequate self-checkers as a mistake can be costly. Since much of the job is crunching numbers, having good mathematical skills is a plus.

Being experienced with certain software programs will also be beneficial. Being fluent with spreadsheets is essential, as this program is used throughout the industry. Because this profession is closely-related to engineering and construction, having experience with computer-aided design or building information modeling is also beneficial.

Individuals who are seeking a senior position within construction estimating need good management skills. Significant experience is also a must.

What Type of Salary Could You Expect as a Construction Estimator?

Salary expectations vary significantly by the industry you work in. Civil engineering and heavy construction typically offer some of the highest salaries. Construction specific to buildings is another industry that pays well. As with any profession, experience is the other major factor that dictates compensation.

Where Are Construction Estimator Jobs Found?

Unsurprisingly, the states with the most construction estimator jobs are often the most populated. This makes sense when you consider that rising populations correlate directly to the need for housing and other infrastructure. The states with the largest number of cost estimators are California, Florida, Texas, and New York. Other states with large numbers of estimators include Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia.

What Is the Job Outlook For Construction Estimators?

With this job tied to the construction industry, you’ll be happy to know that the construction industry is growing. In 2022, the industry was showing monthly gains of more than 60,000 jobs.

Even with this figure applying to the construction industry as a whole, the outlook for these professionals can also be tied to engineering. The engineering industry, including civil, is predicted to have a positive outlook well into the future.

How Do you Find a Construction Estimator Job?

There are large construction and engineering companies that often list their openings. However, for a specific job like estimating, it may be prudent to seek the assistance of a recruiting firm.

Recruiting firms often focus on a single industry and handle job openings that are not listed in job search engines or other tools. With these jobs, they list the requirements and you can usually apply online. These recruiting firms may also take resumes and actively try to place you.

Are You Ready to Start Your Career as a Construction Estimator?

Now that you know what a construction estimator does, are you ready to work toward this career? Unlike some careers, there are multiple paths to becoming one. The right path will depend on your education, work experience, and background.

The outlooks for both construction and engineering look good for the next decade. Most of the jobs are found in the larger states and the salary has a large range.

If you’re ready to get started on the path to this career, contact us for help with your career search.

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