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What Is an Estimator and How to Become One

What Is an Estimator?

An estimator is a professional, often in the construction trade, whose job it is to deliver an accurate estimate of the cost of work requested by a potential client, usually to bid for a project. Estimators must understand the full scope of the project, as well as the material and labor costs, to provide an accurate estimate of costs. Estimators are good with math, have a sense of the common problems which may arise during a project, and can account for variances in materials and labor costs to provide accurate estimations.

How to Become an Estimator

To become an estimator, you must have first-hand experience in the building field. While there is no formal degree program currently provided to become an estimator, there are courses which will teach you ways to calculate project cost, as well as give you training in the particular field that you are focusing. Experience in the trade, as well as working with contractors and purchasing supplies for the project, will help to inform you on estimating jobs for that industry. Additionally, being proficient in estimating software is beneficial to becoming an estimator.

How to Be a Good Estimator

To be a good estimator, you must be able to see the “big-picture”, ask questions about a project, and understand the average productivity of the labor. Knowing as much about the requirements as possible will allow you to provide a more accurate quote. Construction estimating is often made in a range, with contingencies; however, good estimators are extremely familiar with the costs of goods and services for their particular industry and can calculate for common challenges that may arise during a project.

Estimator Job Description Sample

With this Estimator job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember though, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for their Estimator position.

Job Summary

We are seeking a skilled, motivated estimator to join our growing team. In this position, you will be responsible for surveying projects, estimating labor and materials costs, and communicating financial cost and project timelines to customers. You must have a keen attention to detail and skills at estimating projects from a bird’s-eye view to set our client’s expectations accurately.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Fulfill client appointments in a timely manner
  • Assess projects by identifying project requirements, regarding time, labor, and material costs
  • Read blueprints and analyze all other applicable documents to prepare estimates
  • Collaborate with contractors, engineers, and architects during estimate creation to ensure overall accuracy
  • Act as the final say in the calculation, analysis, and adjustment of estimates
  • Present estimates to clients in a timely and polite manner
  • Recommend cost-reduction options
  • Assist sales team in final project preparation transactions
  • Maintain thorough records of all project documentation, including estimates, sales receipts, and project completion documentation

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred; background in mathematics required
  • Voluntary certification in the field is a plus
  • Previous on-the-job training is a big plus
  • Ability to operate independently or with a crew
  • Interpersonal communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Critical thinking, analytical, and organizational skills
  • Time management skills