Estimators in the construction industry compile estimates of costs for services and products. The roles involve working out the likely cost of a project and creating a suitable budget. Different aspects of the project, such as equipment costs, labour fees and quotes from suppliers and sub-contractors, need to be assessed in order to do this.
Estimators work on ongoing maintenance projects as well as one-off projects. Whichever project they work on, the aim is to get the best price to win a contract where bidding is involved. However, the best price is not necessarily the lowest with the quality of service a crucial factor which needs considering.
Tight deadlines are very common in this industry so long working hours is common. Travel is also commonplace as estimators have to visit clients in different locations. The job also involves working in a team rather than individually.
Estimators receive good pay in general, with most positions offering an average salary of about £50,000.
One of the main benefits of estimator jobs is that the work can be very exciting. Having a bid approved after a lot of work is a cause for celebration and very rewarding but high rivalry means there are plenty of challenges to keep estimators busy.
There is currently a good outlook for estimator jobs and despite the effect the recession has had on the construction industry as a whole, estimators remain in demand.
Both private firms and consultancies are always on the lookout for estimators and there is a lot of demand from construction and maintenance companies. Major construction companies are also constantly hiring estimators but tend to select more experienced professionals.
Many estimators build up experience in the industry before they go into estimating. This could involve working as an administrator or a surveying assistant.
Construction and civil engineering degrees are also very relevant because they cover estimating. However, many estimators begin as apprentices and work their way up. Training on the job is common and many estimators work towards various qualifications while working for an employer.
This is a great way to combine academic study with practical experience and ensures you are able to develop the technical knowledge and hands-on skills needed to excel in this industry.
Alongside the above requirements, estimators also need a wide range of qualities to be suited to the job. These include:
- Good commercial judgement
- Good maths skills
- The ability to solve problems with precision and speed
- Good IT skills
- The ability to handle financial analysis comfortably
- Excellent communication skills
- The ability to manage large projects in an organised manner
- Excellent planning skills and the ability to work to tight deadlines
- A thorough knowledge of industry regulations and prices
- Good record-keeping skills
- The ability to understand the needs of clients
- Awareness of health and safety when working on-site