A construction estimator is an individual who prepares cost estimates for residential, commercial and municipal building projects. An estimator must rely on the use of construction plans and his own experience in the industry to prepare and analyse project budgets and spending. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a construction estimator is £39,565.
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Education and Certification
As construction technology grows more complex, employers are increasingly looking for an estimator with a degree in construction management, engineering or architecture. Individuals with a degree in these fields tend to have a strong knowledge of building science and construction processes, which are both critical to successful estimate preparation. Several trade organisations, including the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering and the Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis, offer independent training and certification in this field.
There are a number of skills that are helpful for those in the estimating field. Candidates should have strong math and analytical skills, as well as an eye for detail. As much of the information used in estimating comes from construction drawings, it is critical that an estimator can read and understand blueprints. To help with cost analysis, it is also helpful to have some experience in the industry, especially when it comes to more complex subjects, such as HVAC or electrical systems. Finally, an estimator should have strong communication and interpersonal skills to coordinate effectively with team members.
A construction estimator should have a thorough understanding of computers, especially word processing and spreadsheet programs. He should also be comfortable sending, receiving and attaching large drawing files using e-mail or file transfer programs. Most construction companies use some type of project management software, such as Timberline, Prolog or Primavera. These programs are fairly complex, and some experience with them can be quite beneficial during a job search. It is also helpful to have some understanding of construction scheduling software, such as Suretrak or Microsoft Office Project.
A construction estimator may find jobs with a number of different types of employers. Most estimators work for general contracting firms, where they prepare bids or cost estimates that cover every aspect of a particular building project. Others may work for individual trades, such as plumbers or painting companies. Most architecture and engineering firms hire estimators to help the designers keep a project within a client's budget. Some municipalities or private organisations may hire an estimator to oversee the budgeting and financing on a project and ensure that costs submitted by the contractor are accurate.
Much of an estimator's workday is spent in the office, but there are times when he may venture out to a job site. When visiting a site, an estimator must be prepared for conditions that may be unpleasant or even dangerous. The estimator may find himself examining buildings that are in poor condition in order to gather information on the project. He may also be exposed to general construction dangers from equipment or falling objects. Finally, those interested in an estimating career should be prepared for the pressure and extreme deadlines that are often a part of the job.
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