How Do I Become a Construction Estimator?
I get that question a lot because construction estimating is viewed
as a very well paying job in the construction industry and it has a
certain sense of security to it. It would seem that estimating
could be a possible natural career progression for someone who has
worked in the trades (carpenter, electrician, etc.) and is now getting
to the stage of life where the tools are a bit heavier and the ladders
several rungs taller.
The interesting thing about the construction estimating profession is
that there are no set qualifications. It would be nice if you had
an engineering degree but I know many very successful estimators with
little more than a high school education. It would be nice if you
had 10 years of field experience but I know very successful estimators
A lot of what you need to do to become an estimator will depend on
what you want to estimate. If you are looking for a job estimating
carpentry or concrete work the requirements will be less demanding than
if you want to estimate the cost of $100 million high rise towers or
nuclear power plants.
Employers interviewing estimators will look for three (3) specific
areas of credentials to satisfy: Education, Experience, and how you
Education: If you have a degree in construction
engineering, civil engineering or architecture then you have a big
advantage to start with. If you don't have a construction related
degree then try to complete a Certificate Program in Construction
The graphics to the right of this article represents the the courses
that make up the Certificate in Construction Estimating.
You can achieve this certificate at SDSU, Bucks County CC, American
Society of Professional Estimators and CIWDC. See registration
options for more info.
Experience: Either you have it or you don't. Field
experience doing the type of work you will be estimating is very good to
have. Experience producing successful estimates is the gold
standard. If you don't have experience then make darn sure you
satisfy the other two requirements listed here (Education and
How you Present Yourself is important on several levels.
The personality traits of good estimators are considered by some to be
at least as important as education. Estimators must have an eye
for detail, they must understand the value of money, they must be
competitive and they must have an aptitude for mathematics. They
must be analytical, adaptable, and technically oriented.
Estimators often meet with clients and company management so they need
people skills too.
I hope this brief article helps to answer the question you have
posed about the path to becoming a professional construction estimator.
Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistic for more information about the
estimating profession at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/cost-estimators.htm