what is an estimator?

An estimator determines the costs involved in undertaking a project before its inception. For instance, in a large construction project, an estimator uses the drawings and specifications to determine the total expenses for the building. When bidding for a contract, a cost planner estimates the expenses for the project and the best quote.

As an estimator, you collaborate with engineers, architects, and suppliers to arrive at estimates. When coming up with a project's cost analysis, an estimator factors in all the aspects relevant to the business, including overheads, contractor's fees, and timelines.

what does an estimator do?

After coming up with a budget, you need to provide recommendations for reducing costs and ensuring the project's timely completion. Sometimes, you are in charge of bidding and finding the best materials at budget-friendly prices. When a project commences, you keep track of the actual costs and compare them with the estimates.

Estimators often work in the construction and manufacturing industries and in various engineering firms and other business sectors. You need exceptional analytical skills, financial acumen and math aptitude to succeed in the profession. These skills help you avoid errors and provide accurate estimates for a project.

Would working as an estimator suit your skill? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an estimator role.

estimator jobs near you

average estimator salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that estimators receive a median pay of $65,170 per year. The average hourly wage for estimators is $31.33. Estimators in the United States earning less than $38,880 fall within the lowest 10% whereas the highest 10% earn over $115,600.

smiling female and male working together
smiling female and male working together

types of estimators

Estimators are classified based on the employers. Some of the types of estimators include:

  • client's estimator: As an estimator for a client, you assist them in making an investment decision for a project. You evaluate the costs at the conceptual stage, help them negotiate the contracts, and introduce cost control measures.
  • contractor's cost estimator: When you work for a contractor, you approximate project costs and provide the information needed for a bid. Before estimating costs, you should understand the project's labor, equipment, and materials. You use the contractor's database to determine the suppliers they need for a project and the discount prices available.
  • engineer's estimator: When you work for an engineer, you create a budget for a project, and the engineer presents it to the client. Sometimes, you have to evaluate alternative construction methods that are budget friendly.

working as an estimator

Want to find out what the daily life of an estimator looks like? Read on for details about the day-to-day tasks and the work environment.


estimator skills and education

To become an estimator, you should aim to obtain a college degree, preferably in fields such as mathematics, civil engineering, construction science, construction management or applied science. If you have a keen interest in business, degrees in finance, economics or accounting could also be beneficial for you. It is crucial to develop strong numeracy skills as they are integral to this profession.

Make sure to pursue a bachelor's degree in mathematics, finance, accounting, statistics or a related field to enhance your qualifications. Additionally, if you have relevant work experience and engineering management or project management training, it qualifies you for this role. Consider obtaining certifications like the Certified Professional Estimator or the Associate Estimating Professional, which are offered by the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE), to showcase your refined skills and expertise in the estimation field.

skills and competencies

  • blueprint reading skills: Understanding how to read blueprints greatly enhances an estimator's success.
  • ability to see the big picture: Visualizing the completed structure and its assembly optimizes accuracy in estimates.
  • strong communication skills: Effective written and verbal communication is crucial for estimators.
  • analytical skills: Estimators should possess analytical thinking to assess complex project details accurately.
  • persistence: A tenacious approach to seeking necessary information leads to accurate cost estimations.
  • multi-tasking: Handling multiple estimates simultaneously promotes sustained growth in the role.
female executive looking at documents
female executive looking at documents

FAQs about working as an estimator

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about estimators.

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