Learn a time tested electrical estimating system that will equip you with the skills and confidence to prepare tender estimates. You will identify scope of work with scaled drawings and professional design specifications, perform a material takeoff, measure labor units and calculate a bid price for the project.
While formal qualifications are a necessary part of the job, many companies value field experience on top of that.
Having a journeyman electrician certificate or an electrical engineering degree is one thing, but gaining the key attributes of estimating is another. Those attributes are called soft skills, and they include communication, leadership qualities, project management ability and teamwork potential. Having strong written communication skills is important, as estimators prepare tender documentation and receive and respond to queries from clients.
Those looking to pursue a career as an electrical estimator can choose from a variety of courses. The course curriculum can range from a short certificate program to a full-blown bachelor’s or master’s degree in cost estimating. The program choice should be based on career goals and the amount of formal education already acquired, says the research resource site Education-Portal.
A good starting point is taking a foundational course such as the Introduction to Electrical Estimating. This live, interactive online training covers the basics of preparing an estimate using drawings and specifications. It also teaches line-item estimating, in which each individual component or assembly is listed on a pricing sheet, such as the one pictured above. For example, a duplex receptacle would include a box, plaster ring, switch and cover.
The course is complemented by a free estimating software package, which the instructor provides to each student upon completion of the course. The student is also provided lifetime access to the lessons.
A good electrical estimator has the ability to accurately estimate all areas of a project, including labor costs and equipment. However, he or she also needs to understand the nuances of electrical construction. This includes understanding how the NECA Manual of Labor Units applies to specific projects, and knowing the types of materials used in specific types of wiring.
There are a number of ways to take an electrical estimating course. One way is to enroll in a certificate program at an online educational institution. This is often offered as part of a larger degree program in electrical systems cost estimating, electrical technology, or construction management. Another option is to find an estimating class at a local community college. These courses are typically taught by experienced estimators.
Taking an electrical estimating course can help prepare students for careers in this field, or for a new job as a professional estimator. Many students who complete an estimating course are able to advance in their current career, or start their own businesses. These positions offer lucrative salaries and benefits, making them an attractive career choice for many people.
While gaining experience as a journeyman electrician or completing an electrical estimating course can help students learn the necessary skills, there are some key attributes that they must acquire on their own. These aspects resemble both hard and soft skills, and they include things such as communication abilities, leadership qualities, and teamwork potential.
While gaining experience as a journeyman electrician or completing an electrical engineering degree is one thing, acquiring the key attributes to work as an electrical estimator is another. These traits include project management skills, teamwork potential and leadership qualities. These are not something that can be taught or acquired from a book, but rather through on-the-job training from senior colleagues and assigned supervisors. This also includes learning the processes followed by your company to prepare price estimates for a project.
In addition, you must learn how to read blueprints, organize a material takeoff and understand labor units. A key component of estimating is transferring the takeoff to pricing sheets. For example, a power socket, including the box, plaster ring and switch, must be broken down into individual components to create a list of pricing. This is why many estimating courses offer instruction in reading and using blueprints, including an introduction to the NECA Manual of Labor Units.
Some electrical estimating courses are offered by colleges and universities. They can be a great way to add academic credibility to your career and to expand your knowledge of the field. Some of these programs are also available to those with prior construction and estimating experience, who can earn a certificate in electrical-system cost estimating or construction management. National University, for example, offers an undergraduate certificate in electrical-system estimating that requires three prerequisite courses and completion of four course modules.
Electrical estimating is the process of taking a construction drawing and turning it into a dollar price for installing all the electrical systems in a project. It’s a critical function that if performed poorly, will negatively impact the quality of the projects a business delivers to clients and ultimately their profit.
Most people who choose to be an electrical estimator will have formal training either through an apprenticeship or in an in-house training program within a business that has a dedicated team of estimators. They’ll often also complete a certificate or degree program to lend academic credibility to their knowledge and experience in the field. For example, National University offers an undergraduate certificate in cost estimating — a four-course curriculum that is a great way to gain skills that can be applied immediately upon completion. Other programs such as the one offered by Carr Consulting Service, a national electrical estimating company based in Ventura, California, provide comprehensive online certification courses that offer hands-on estimating training, from taking a takeoff to developing a material list to applying labor units.
Successful estimators are often clear communicators and highly process-driven. They know to double-check scope of work documents and specifications and to ensure they ask any questions that may require clarification. They also understand that if they’re going to deliver an accurate and thorough estimate, it will require time to make enquiries of subcontractors and manage the process of getting quotes back on time for inclusion in tenders.