Construction estimators analyze costs, and prepare estimates on construction projects. In some cases they may be self employed, and in smaller organizations, estimators may also perform other tasks.
Careers in Skilled Trades: Construction estimator
Are you analytical and organized? Do you have strong math skills? Could you review plans and specifications to accurately determine material and labour requirements? Could you make accurate allowances in your estimates for errors, breakage and weather conditions? Do you have field experience in the construction industry?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Construction Estimator could be right for you.
Construction estimators analyze the costs of and prepare estimates on construction projects. They may specialize in estimating costs for civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical construction projects; or they may specialize in estimating costs for one construction trade in particular, such as electrical.
They are employed by residential, commercial and industrial construction companies and major electrical, mechanical and trade contractors. In some cases they may be self employed, and in smaller organizations, estimators may also perform other tasks.
As a Construction Estimator, your duties may include the following:
- Prepare estimates of probable costs of materials, labour and equipment, and subcontracts for construction projects based on contract bids, quotations, schematic drawings and specifications
- Advise on tendering procedures, examine and analyze tenders, recommend tender awards and conduct negotiations
- Establish and maintain tendering processes
- Set up cost monitoring and reporting systems and procedures
- Prepare cost and expenditure statements and forecasts at regular intervals for the duration of a project
- Prepare and maintain a directory of suppliers, contractors and subcontractors
- Liaise, consult and communicate with engineers, architects, owners, contractors and subcontractors, and prepare economic feasibility studies on changes and adjustments to cost estimates
- Manage and co-ordinate construction projects, and prepare construction progress schedules
The standard workweek for construction estimators is 40 hours (8 hours a day, 5 days a week). As with many careers in construction, there are peak periods that will require you to work overtime. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next.
Construction estimators work in offices, but spend some time on construction sites reviewing progress and meeting with project stakeholders. They work with construction supervisors and managers to ensure accurate and up-to-date reports.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Estimators are trained to work safely and wear personal protective equipment such as hard hats, gloves and steel-toed boots whenever they are on construction sites.
Training and Certification
The Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS) is a good source of information on courses and training providers for this occupation. The institute offers training courses in construction estimating, and also awards (in conjunction with regional associations) the Professional Quantity Surveyor and the Construction Estimator Certified designations to estimators who meet their certification requirements. For more information visit www.ciqs.org
The Canadian Construction Association awards qualified people with Gold Seal Certificates for several construction occupations, including the Gold Seal Certificate – Construction Estimator designation. For more information, visit www.goldsealcertification.com
The American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) is another great resource for those looking for information on training providers for this trade. ASPE also awards a certification in estimating to those who meet the requirements. For more information visit www.aspenational.org.
Completion of a college program in civil or construction engineering technology is normally required, or several years of experience working as a qualified tradesperson in a construction trade.
Specific skill requirements include the following:
- Prepare estimates of labour and material costs
- Estimate pre-contract costs
- Prepare and maintain a directory of suppliers and contractors
- Read and interpret blueprints, drawings and specifications
- Provide economic feasibility studies and preliminary estimates for proposed projects
- Operate CADD systems
Certification by the Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors may be required.