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  • Writer's pictureSydney Estimator

What Is A Construction Estimator And What Do They Do?

Updated: May 8


What Is A Construction Estimator

Construction estimators play a critical role in the success of any construction project. They are responsible for estimating the cost of materials and labour for a project. Without an accurate estimate, it can be not easy to budget and ensure that a project remains on track financially. In this blog post, we will explore what exactly a construction estimator does and how it helps projects run smoothly. We will also discuss the education and experience required to become a construction estimator.


What is a construction estimator, and what does it do?


What is a construction estimator? This is becoming a popular question, especially among construction companies. A construction estimator is a professional who estimates the cost and resources needed to complete a construction project. They also keep track of any changes in materials or labour costs during the project.


Construction estimators must have a thorough knowledge of building materials, labour costs, and construction methods to accurately estimate costs. They often work closely with architects and engineers to ensure that all factors are considered. To become a construction estimator, it is typically necessary to have a combination of education and experience in the field. Many construction estimators have a degree in construction management or a related field.


Construction estimators work with contractors, architects, and engineers to determine the cost of materials and labour for a construction project. They use their expertise in building materials, pricing trends, and labour costs to accurately estimate a project's overall cost. They may also consider factors such as equipment rental and disposal fees to ensure that all expenses are accounted for in the estimate.


Construction estimators gather and analyze data from blueprints, surveys, and on-site visits to create an accurate estimate. They also consult subcontractors and vendors to obtain pricing information for materials and labour. Once the estimate is completed, contractors can use it to set a budget and negotiate contracts with clients.


Becoming a construction estimator requires a combination of education and experience in the construction industry. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in construction management or a related field and prior experience in the industry. However, some may also consider candidates with an associate's degree and ample on-the-job experience.


Overall, construction estimators play a vital role in the success of any construction project. 


Accurately estimating the cost of materials and labour they help ensure that projects stay within budget and on schedule. If you're interested in becoming a construction estimator, consider obtaining a construction management degree and gaining industry experience.


What they do during the pre-construction phase?


  1. Gathering and analyzing data from blueprints, surveys, and on-site visits is an essential everyday task that estimators must perform to accurately assess the project's cost.

  2. Consult with subcontractors and vendors to obtain pricing information for materials and labour: Estimators often have a network of trusted subcontractors and vendors with whom they work. These can provide them with accurate and up-to-date pricing information for materials and labour.

  3. Provide a project estimate to the contractor or client: Once all necessary data has been gathered and analyzed, estimators can accurately estimate the project cost. This helps contractors set a budget and negotiate contracts with clients.


What they do during the construction phase


Here are ten roles that construction estimators may take on during the construction phase:

  1. Monitor project expenses and update cost estimates as needed

  2. Track material orders and deliveries to ensure they are on schedule

  3. Coordinate with subcontractors to ensure their work is completed within budget

  4. Negotiate contracts and purchase orders for materials and labour

  5. Assist with project schedule by identifying potential delays and finding solutions

  6. Resolve any discrepancies between actual costs and estimated costs

  7. Monitor compliance with building codes and regulations

  8. Track changes to the project scope or design and update cost estimates accordingly.

  9. Attend meetings with clients, contractors, and subcontractors.

  10. Prepare progress reports for the contractor or client.


Overall, construction estimators may be involved in various aspects of the construction phase to ensure the project stays on budget and schedule. They work closely with contractors, subcontractors, and clients to identify and resolve potential issues affecting the project's cost and timeline.


Beyond these specific tasks, construction estimators may also have additional duties or responsibilities depending on the particular job role and company. Construction estimators need to stay organized and communicate effectively with all parties involved in the project.


Essential skills for a construction estimator

  1. Strong math and analytical skills: Construction estimators need to be able to analyze data and make calculations in order to estimate project costs accurately.

  2. Attention to detail: Attention to detail is crucial in this job, as estimators need to thoroughly review plans and gather all necessary information for an accurate estimate.

  3. Strong communication skills: Estimators often need to communicate with various parties involved in the construction project, including contractors, subcontractors, and clients.

  4. Time management and organization: Construction estimators may need to handle multiple projects simultaneously, and strong time management and organizational skills can help them stay on top of their tasks.

  5. Knowledge of construction and building codes: Familiarity with local building codes and regulations can assist estimators in ensuring that the project is compliant.

  6. Experience in the industry: Having prior experience in the construction industry can be beneficial for estimators, as they may have established connections with subcontractors and vendors and a better understanding of the industry. However, some companies may provide on-the-job training for individuals without previous industry experience.


Overall, being a construction estimator requires a combination of technical skills and soft skills in order to successfully estimate project costs and assist with the overall construction process.


How to become a construction estimator?


To become a construction estimator, you will need a combination of education and experience in the construction industry. Many employers prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree in construction management or a related field and prior industry experience. However, some may also consider candidates with an associate's degree and ample on-the-job experience.


In addition, it's important to have a strong understanding of building materials and pricing trends and the ability to gather and analyze data from blueprints, surveys, and on-site visits. Communication skills are also valuable in this role, as construction estimators often consult with subcontractors and vendors to obtain pricing information.


Working as a construction estimator can be a rewarding career, as it allows you to play a crucial role in the success of building projects. If you're interested in becoming a construction estimator, consider obtaining a construction management degree and gaining industry experience. With dedication and hard work, you can thrive in this dynamic and important role.


The benefits of being a construction estimator

Working as a construction estimator offers many benefits, and here are 10 of the top ones:
  1. Job stability - As the construction industry continues to grow, there will always be a demand for skilled construction estimators. Provided that you keep offering quality work and stay current with industry trends, job stability is likely.

  2. Variety - Construction estimators often work on a range of projects, including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. This can offer variety in the types of projects you work on and prevent work from becoming monotonous.

  3. Room for growth - As a construction estimator, there is room for advancement and potentially becoming a project manager or starting your own construction company.

  4. Satisfaction - Being able to accurately estimate the cost of a project and being part of the successful completion can bring job satisfaction.

  5. Good pay - Construction estimators often earn competitive salaries and may also receive bonuses based on the success of projects.

  6. Opportunities to travel - Construction estimators may need to visit job sites in different locations, offering opportunities for travel.

  7. Flexibility - Many construction estimators have the option to work remotely or have flexible schedules.

  8. Variety of industries to work in - Construction estimators may work in industries such as residential home building, commercial construction, civil engineering, and more.

  9. Networking opportunities - In this role, you have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with a range of professionals including subcontractors, architects, and project managers.

  10. Being part of something bigger - As a construction estimator, you have the opportunity to be part of building projects that can improve communities and have a lasting impact.


Being a construction estimator offers numerous benefits and can be a fulfilling career choice for those with a passion for the industry. If you're interested in becoming a construction estimator, consider obtaining a degree in construction management and gaining experience in the field. With dedication and hard work, you can thrive in this dynamic and important role.


Salary for construction estimators

In Australia, the average salary for a construction estimator is $85,688 per year. Salary can vary based on experience level and the industry in which you work. The pay that they get is worth it for the stress and pressure that they have to deal with on a daily basis.


They are responsible for making sure that projects stay on budget and within their allocated funds. Any mistake in their calculations can result in major problems for the entire project. This job also requires them to constantly gather pricing information and stay current with industry trends, making it a demanding but rewarding career choice.


What kind of software do they use for their work?


Construction estimators often use software such as TurboBid, ProEst, and Sage Timberline to aid in their estimating processes. These programs can help with tasks such as compiling material and labour costs, generating reports, and managing data. It's important for construction estimators to stay current with technology and be familiar with various software programs to succeed in their roles.


The importance of accuracy in estimating construction costs


Accuracy is crucial in the role of a construction estimator. They are responsible for ensuring that a project stays within its allocated budget. Other reasons why accuracy is essential while going through cost estimation can be explained by these seven reasons:


  1. Avoid cost overruns: It can be disastrous when a project goes over budget, and estimators play a vital role in preventing this from happening.

  2. Maintain good relationships with clients: Inaccurate estimates can lead to client dissatisfaction and damage the construction company's reputation.

  3. Ensure competitive bids: Accuracy in estimating helps construction companies stay competitive when bidding for projects.

  4. Keep the project on schedule: If the estimated costs are inaccurate, it can result in delays and potentially missing deadlines.

  5. Meet legal requirements: Accurate estimates help ensure that all necessary permits and regulations are considered during the building process.

  6. Make informed decisions: Having accurate cost estimates helps project managers make crucial decisions throughout the building process.

  7. Maximize profits: Accurate cost estimation helps construction companies maximize profits and minimize losses on a project.


Accuracy is crucial for construction estimators to ensure a project's success and maintain relationships with clients. They need to stay current with industry trends and be familiar with various software programs to accurately estimate construction costs.


Overall, the job of a construction estimator can be demanding but rewarding as they play an essential role in ensuring the success of building projects.


Some potential challenges for construction estimators

There are several potential challenges that construction estimators are faced with, and here are 8 of them:


  1. Meeting tight deadlines: Most construction projects operate on strict timelines. This can be challenging for estimators who must gather and analyse data to provide accurate cost estimates.

  2. Dealing with changes or revisions: Changes to a project's scope or design can result in the need for revised cost estimates, adding extra pressure for construction estimators.

  3. Working with a limited budget: It's the estimator's responsibility to ensure that a project stays within budget, which can be difficult when limited funds exist.

  4. Obtaining accurate pricing information: Accurate pricing information is crucial for construction estimators, and they must stay current with industry trends to gather this data. Also, they may need to negotiate prices with vendors and subcontractors.

  5. Identifying potential risks: A construction estimator's job is to identify and plan for them regarding budgeting, scheduling, and safety measures.

  6. Comparing bids from different contractors: Construction estimators may need to review and compare bids from various contractors to choose the best option for the project.

  7. Staying current with industry trends: Construction estimators need to stay informed about changes and advancements in the industry to provide accurate cost estimates.

  8. Managing multiple projects simultaneously: Construction estimators may be working on multiple projects simultaneously and must juggle their tasks and priorities effectively.


The job of a construction estimator can be challenging but rewarding as they play an important role in the success of a project. They must have strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to stay current with industry trends and technology.


Can construction estimators work independently, or do they typically work for a company?

Both options are possible for construction estimators. Some may work as part of a team at a construction company, while others may be self-employed and contract their services to various clients. Construction estimators must stay organized and have strong communication skills, whether working independently or as part of a larger team.


Frequently Asked Questions


Here are 7 frequently asked questions about construction estimators:


1. What education or certification is required for a career as a construction estimator?


Ans: While there is no specific degree or certification required, it’s important for construction estimators to have education and experience in the field, as well as strong analytical skills and familiarity with industry software and technology.


2. Is construction estimating a stable career?


Ans: The demand for cost estimators is expected to grow 8% from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. This growth may be due to an increased focus on cost efficiency in the construction industry.


3. What are some common challenges that construction estimators face?


Ans: Some common challenges that construction estimators may face include dealing with changes or revisions, working with a limited budget, obtaining accurate pricing information, identifying potential risks, comparing bids from different contractors, staying current with industry trends, and managing multiple projects simultaneously.


4. How does a construction estimator stay organized and prioritize tasks? 


Ans: A construction estimator may use project management software, develop a system for organizing and tracking information, prioritize tasks based on deadlines or importance, and regularly reassess and adjust their plans as needed.


5. How does communication play a role in the job of a construction estimator? 


Ans: Strong communication skills are important for construction estimators as they may need to communicate with various parties, including clients, contractors, and project managers. They may also need to present cost estimates and offer explanations or justifications for their calculations.


6. Can construction estimators work remotely? 


Ans: Some construction estimators may have the flexibility to work remotely, especially if they are self-employed or contract their services to multiple clients. However, they may sometimes need to visit job sites or attend meetings in person.


7. What are some ways that a construction estimator can advance their career? 


Ans: A construction estimator can advance their career by obtaining education and experience in the field, staying current with industry trends and technology, networking, and building professional relationships. They may also pursue certification or specialize in a certain type of construction.


Let's Wrap It up


Overall, being a construction estimator can offer job satisfaction and potential for growth. It's important for those interested in this career path to obtain education, experience, and strong organization and communication skills. The demand for cost estimators is expected to grow in the coming years, providing opportunities for advancement. Moreover, as technology and industry trends evolve, construction estimators must stay current and willing to learn and adapt in their jobs continually.

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