While construction estimating does not receive as much attention as other jobs in the skilled trades, it’s one of the most important roles on any construction site. A good estimator is critical to the success of any construction firm, since the accuracy and timeliness of a bid is a determining factor in which company wins the bid.
And skilled estimators are in demand. Government projections show that construction estimators have strong career prospects across most of Canada, including Ontario, Quebec, and the Prairie provinces.
So what specific skills do you need to find success as a construction estimator? The following five attributes are widely considered essential.
1. Math Skills
Construction estimators must be comfortable working with numbers. Although computers and calculators can help with routine tasks, the ability to perform mental math and analyze numerical data quickly and accurately are enormous assets for estimators.
Strong math skills are required to prepare realistic estimates for materials, labour, equipment, and subcontracts. This really is the foundation of construction estimating for any type of project, including civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical, and mechanical construction projects.
Inaccurate estimates, or mistakes made during calculations, can result in huge losses for the construction company.
2. Analytical Skills and an Eye for Detail
For construction estimators, calculation and analysis go hand in hand. In order to gather the data needed to assess costs for each project, estimators must be able to conduct research and analyze various kinds of documents.
You will need to interpret blueprints, schematics, manual drawings, and electronic simulations and visualize each step of the building process. Estimators must also research historical pricing trends and stay on top of the fluctuating costs of certain materials (like lumber) that can change on the open market.
By paying close attention to detail and conducting thorough analyses, estimators can predict how one change in cost may impact other parts of a project and adjust their overall projections accordingly.
3. Data Management and Organizational Skills
Once the estimate is complete and the building project has begun, it is the estimator's job to carefully monitor costs and make estimating adjustments throughout the entire project lifecycle. This entails setting up a cost monitoring system, preparing summary reports, and creating financial statements to report regularly on expenditures and budgets.
To be effective, estimators must keep track of and record many data points so that each stakeholder stays informed with accurate, up-to-date information as the project unfolds.
4. Excellent Communication Skills
Construction estimating is not just about crunching numbers, analyzing data, and keeping records. Estimators are also important coordinators and liaisons both before and during the building phase. It is the estimator's job to communicate and consult with engineers, architects, owners, contractors, and subcontractors. They must manage and coordinate the construction process and continuously update the progress schedule.
Excellent written and oral communication skills are absolutely essential for this role.
5. Adaptive to Technology
There is a wide variety of construction estimating software that estimators must learn and adapt to, such as CoConstruct, STACK Estimating, and Buildertrend.
These programs offer increasingly sophisticated, automated, and cloud-based tools for managing bids, purchase orders, documents, proposals, change orders, etc.—and easily communicating updates to subcontractors, vendors, customers, and other stakeholders.
Estimators must be comfortable working with these kinds of programs and be quick to learn and adapt to evolving estimating technologies.
LEARN THE SKILLS YOU NEED TO BECOME A CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATOR
Consider Herzing College's Construction Electrical Mechanical Estimator training. The program takes just 36 weeks to complete and is delivered online.
Students learn about each stage of the estimating process and begin developing the fundamental skills needed to succeed in this field. Graduates are prepared for roles as junior estimators, in which they can further develop their skills and experience and eventually take the lead on projects independently.
Visit the program page to get details on courses and admissions information or to chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!