Construction Estimator Career Path

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Construction Estimator Career Path

Construction estimators supervise construction jobs and manage the financial side of projects from initial planning to completion. Construction project manager – learn about this challenging job that involves managing a construction site by overseeing activities such as scheduling, budgeting, subcontractors, and workers. Construction estimator is a career path that can offer a great opportunity for advancement. It’s also one of the few fields where you have the potential to become an expert in your field and make six figures by age 30.

Construction estimators, or cost estimators as they are sometimes called, prepare costs for projects such as the development of a building or bridge. Cost estimators use blueprints, photos, and plans from architects to determine expected costs for construction materials and labor. Based on these findings, cost estimators can help clients make better decisions about whether or not to move forward with construction projects.

1. What Is a Construction Estimator?

A construction estimator is a person who has special expertise in finding out how much it’s going to cost to build something such as a building, road, or bridge. Their work involves studying blueprints and other project plans and then estimating costs for each item that goes into the project.

Construction estimators typically specialize in either residential or commercial buildings. They also may specialize in estimating the cost of materials only, labor only, or both materials and labor. Construction estimators help ensure that projects are completed on time and on budget by providing accurate estimates early in the process. Their work helps architects, engineers, general contractors, and subcontractors avoid costly mistakes.

2. What Are the Responsibilities of a Construction Estimator?

The role of a construction estimator can vary depending on the company you are working for. However, there are some common responsibilities that are nearly universal within this career path. For example, construction estimators may be responsible for:

  • including all relevant costs associated with the project
  • providing an accurate estimate of total costs, which comprises both fixed costs and variable costs
  • managing budgets or overseeing the general contractor’s budget
  • preparing budgets for sub-contractors
  • providing cost analysis reports projecting managers, vice presidents, sales managers, and clients

Estimators in construction prepare cost estimates for building and civil engineering projects, including the costs of labor, materials, and equipment. Construction estimators review blueprints, and other project plans to estimate how much a particular construction or civil engineering project should cost. They also consider factors such as geographical location, labor conditions, and the type of materials involved. Construction estimators prepare reports that estimate the costs of specific projects, often with cost breakdowns by various subcategories. They also send these reports to contractors so they can decide whether or not they want to take on a job.

3. What Is the Average Salary for a Construction Estimator?

The median annual wage for construction estimators was $59,100 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,660, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $101,070.The median annual wage for cost estimators is $64,560 as of 2016.

The average pay for a Construction Estimator is between $60,000 and $100,000.

Construction estimators are typically paid according to an hourly rate or salary. They may also be eligible for bonuses depending on the company they work for.

4. How Do You Become a Construction Estimator?

Typically, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in construction management or engineering to get into the field of construction estimating. Some employers may also prefer that estimators have knowledge of specific project types, such as commercial or residential properties, and they may also expect estimators to be familiar with industry standards and practices for their specialization. A background in mathematics may be required for commercial construction estimators, while residential estimators may be expected to have strong knowledge of building codes and standards.

Individuals interested in becoming construction estimators can prepare by taking classes in mathematics, statistics, and engineering. Many employers also look for applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in construction management or a closely related field. Applicants should be familiar with industry standards for budgeting and estimating costs, as well as the principles of building materials and methods. Finally, cost estimators need to have outstanding oral and written communication skills because they will be explaining their estimates to clients and contractors.

5. Do You Need Any Special Training to be a Construction Estimator?

There are no specific education requirements for construction estimating. Many employers prefer that construction estimators have at least a bachelor’s degree in the construction industry or an engineering field. Classroom instruction for estimators often includes topics such as cost control, risk management, and project planning. Applicants should also expect to receive training on how to prepare cost estimates, which typically involves learning how to work with blueprints, computer-aided design software, and other project documentation.

Construction estimators may be asked to have a professional certification in their field of work, but this is not required by all employers. The Applied Professional Certification (APC) offered through the American Society of Professional Estimators offers certifications for estimators’ knowledge of general building estimating, commercial construction estimating, and residential construction estimating. Applicants may also take the cost estimator certification exam through the Construction Specifications Institute, which was developed by the American National Standards Institute and is recognized as a national benchmark for knowledge and skills in cost estimation.

6. What Does it Mean to be An APC-Certified Construction Estimator?

ASPE’s APC certification program ensures estimators possess the knowledge and skills necessary to produce accurate, high-quality cost estimates for construction projects.

An APC is an industry designation for construction estimators awarded by the American Society of Professional Estimators. There are three different levels of certification, each with increasing knowledge requirements, and each one requires passing a written exam that tests comprehension of currency factors, estimating procedures, and other material specific to the field. The cost estimator certification, which is relevant for commercial construction, is the most difficult and detailed of these three designations.

7. What Are the Skills Needed to Become a Construction Estimator? 

Construction estimating is a challenging but rewarding occupation that requires a successful combination of brainpower and business acumen. A construction estimator’s work typically begins long before any building materials are purchased or equipment rented, as he must first analyze blueprints for a project to determine costs. He will calculate the number of days required for each stage of construction and also examine risk factors in the project. After presenting his estimate to the client, he will work with architects and contractors to make sure that all materials are compatible with current building codes. Finally, the estimator provides ongoing cost updates during construction to assist the general contractor in meeting budgets.

Estimators will need to have excellent oral and written communication skills in order to present their estimates in a clear and concise manner. They should also be able to deal with people in an effective way since they may be working with clients or contractors. Professionals in this role will also use the experience they gain to understand project requirements and communicate with others on how they can be implemented effectively.

8. What Are the Different Types of Construction Estimators?

Residential Construction Estimator

Residential construction estimating is a field that requires knowledge of local building codes, local labor rates, and other factors that can vary by location. Residential estimators may factor in variables such as the distance needed for delivery transportation or truck access to the site to help determine cost projections. They also use an itemized list to estimate costs for each aspect of the project, including sub-trades.

Commercial Construction Estimator

Commercial construction estimating is similar to residential construction in many ways. It also requires specific knowledge of local requirements and standards, but the job entails additional steps such as creating cost estimates for different aspects of the project. For example, the estimator may place emphasis on interior fit-outs and finishes for a retail project while placing more focus on the mechanical and electrical systems for an industrial building. Commercial construction estimating is also more likely to involve multiple trades and complex installations such as flooring or plumbing. The estimator must consider these factors to make sure that costs align with the budget for the entire project.

Heavy Construction Estimator

Heavy construction estimating is typically required for projects such as highways, bridges, and other large-scale structures that require engineering expertise to build safely. Heavy construction estimators will use software modeling programs to estimate costs based on specifications of materials and equipment needed to complete the project. These estimators will also need to understand various construction codes and safety regulations for areas such as airport work, railroad track construction, or oil rig maintenance.

9. What Is the Future Outlook for Construction Estimators?

It is estimated that the construction industry will grow by approximately 9% by 2024. With this increase in demand, it’s likely that construction estimators will have no trouble finding work. While employment for all construction occupations is expected to rise, the need for heavy and civil engineering technicians is projected to grow at an even faster rate of 20%. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that there will be a 12% increase in engineering technician jobs from 2016 to 2026, with most openings due to replacement needs as experienced staff leave the industry. In addition, estimators who possess knowledge of relevant software programs such as Revit may have an advantage over those without this skillset, as they are expected to be in high demand.

10. Are There Any Career Advancement Opportunities?

There are many advancement opportunities for construction estimators. Some may pursue supervisory or management positions, while others may seek out roles that involve more technical aspects of construction, such as drafting or architecture. The need to replace experienced staff in the industry means there is plenty of opportunity for workers who can prove they have valuable skills and adapt quickly to changing conditions on the job.

Construction estimating can be a stepping stone toward other positions in the construction industry. For example, some commercial construction project managers got their start as commercial cost estimators. Some may have been estimators in the past and gained knowledge on the cost estimation process, which allowed them to become managers. In some cases, a construction estimating manager may oversee multiple projects at once while providing direction to other individuals on the team who are responsible for carrying out specific parts of the construction schedule.

11. Top Construction Companies Hiring Estimators in the Job Market

Construction is a never-ending business. There are millions of construction companies in the job market which give plenty of options to interested people. some of them are given below:

  1. Royal BAM Group
  2. Gilbane Building Company
  3. AECOM Technology Corporation
  4. Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.
  5. Balfour Beatty Construction
  6. HDR Architecture, engineering and design Inc.
  7. Carillion plc
  8. Wolpert Inc.
  9. HNTB Corporation 
  10. E G Yee & Associates Incorporated

12. Online Courses for Construction Estimation

Quantity Surveying Building Estimation BBS with Excel & CAD-D

this course is offered by udemy, which covers all the fundamentals of estimating, bidding, and contracts. It also provides a basic understanding of the construction industry.

Apply Now

Quantity Surveying, Cost Estimation, and Bill of Quantities

this course is offered by udemy, which covers all the required knowledge to understand the key elements of quantity surveying.

Apply Now

Construction Cost Estimating and Cost Control

This course is offered by Coursera institution, which covers all the knowledge of estimating, bidding, and contracts. It also provides a detailed understanding of cost estimation in construction companies.

Apply Now


There is no doubt that construction estimators are in high demand, and with the projected growth of the industry, this trend is likely to continue. Those who want to enter this field should consider pursuing a degree in quantity surveying, cost estimation, or civil engineering technology, as these will give you the best foundation for success in this career. It is also important to be familiar with relevant software programs such as Revit as employers are increasingly looking for staff who have these skills. There are many advancement opportunities available for those who prove themselves to be valuable employees, so estimators should aim to develop a broad range of skillsets and stay up-to-date on changes in the construction industry.

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