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How to Become a Construction Cost Estimator

Construction estimators need a strong set of technical, mathematical and analytical skills. They also need to stay up to date on the costs of materials and labor.

Getting into the field typically requires a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject like building science, construction management, engineering or civil engineering.

Education and Training

The first step on the path to becoming a construction cost estimator is gaining relevant education. This can include a college qualification, like an associate or bachelor’s degree in construction management, structural engineering, civil engineering or quantity surveying. GCSEs or equivalent qualifications in science, technology, IT, English and maths can also be helpful.

The type of education that you need to become a construction estimator will depend on what industry you want to work in. For example, manufacturing companies typically require a degree in engineering, physical sciences or mathematics. Construction estimators with a background in accounting, finance or business can also work in the field. Regardless of your preferred area, getting hands-on experience by shadowing a veteran construction cost estimator or undertaking an apprenticeship can be a great way to learn the ropes.

Once you have the qualifications necessary to enter your desired field, it is important to gain relevant experience. You can start this process by working as a junior estimator, assistant project manager or similar entry-level position in the construction industry. In addition to this, you can also seek out training courses or seminars related to construction cost estimating. These will help you to refine your skills and improve the accuracy of your estimates. This will ultimately lead to a more productive career and reduce the risk of costly mistakes.

Work Experience

Construction estimates can make or break a project’s financial success. Having an accurate estimate at the start of a project saves money by eliminating the need to manage budget overruns midway through the construction process. It also makes the job of a construction manager easier because it allows them to focus more on getting projects to completion without jeopardizing their bottom line.

To become a successful construction estimator, you need to gain experience in the industry. This can be done by completing an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as structural or civil engineering, construction, and quantity surveying. Alternatively, you can take up an apprenticeship with a construction company to receive on-the-job training and gain the necessary work experience.

Once you have the necessary skills, you need to practice on a variety of different projects. This will help you perfect your skills and learn the ins and outs of construction estimating, such as reading architectural plans and understanding how design impacts the cost of materials and labor. It is also important to stay up to date on current material costs and labor rates so that you can create an accurate bid estimate for each project.

You should also invest in estimating software to make the job of preparing estimates more efficient. Having this type of software can save you hours of time and improve your accuracy significantly. It can also help you avoid costly mistakes like rushing the estimation process and underestimating overheads.


Most employers prefer that cost estimators have at least a bachelor’s degree. For those who work in construction, this should be a degree in either engineering, architecture, construction science, or management. Those who work in manufacturing will usually have a degree in physical sciences, business, math, statistics, operations research, and/or engineering management. English courses with a heavy concentration in writing are also helpful as this is a career that requires good communication skills.

There are a variety of certifications available for construction estimators, so it is important to find one that aligns with your individual career goals and levels of expertise. The CCE/A is a comprehensive certification that covers both cost estimation and analysis, while the CCP focuses on cost control strategies.

Aside from these certifications, you should aim to gain as much field experience as possible to learn the intricacies of the position. This will help you develop the skills necessary to read blueprints and create accurate estimates.

You should also be able to identify the best human resource, construction material, and machinery vendors. You should be able to collect quotes from each vendor, negotiate the rates, and prepare a proposal for the project’s costs. Having these skills will give you the competitive edge to win bids and become a successful estimator in the industry. In addition to this, obtaining certification will increase your value in the job market and boost your career progression.

Advanced Roles and Responsibilities

There is a lot more to being a construction estimator than creating a list of costs and deliverables. The job requires a holistic analysis of the project scope and a lot of careful and thorough work to estimate all the indirect and hidden costs, such as labour, plant hire, supervision and materials.

A skilled estimator will use a cost guide, an industry database or their own knowledge and experience to produce accurate estimates. Using this method, they can compare different quotes from different contractors and suppliers to select the best value option. They are also able to create and maintain a comprehensive pricing database by inputting and backing up data as they work on projects.

In addition to preparing estimates, they will communicate with clients and stakeholders about their progress and any issues. They will also work closely with construction supervisors to ensure the accuracy of their calculations and reports. They are usually based in an office but may spend some time visiting construction sites.

They will also perform quantity take-offs from drawings and prepare CSI formats. They will complete RFIs and analyze, evaluate and distribute responses. They will also prepare cost reconciliations between two or more estimates and explain variance cost drivers. They will use estimating software to help improve productivity and increase accuracy. They will also update their technical knowledge through educational workshops and review technical publications.