Construction estimators (NOC 2234)

About this job

Construction estimators analyse costs and prepare estimates on civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical construction projects. They are employed by residential, commercial and industrial construction companies and by major electrical, mechanical and trade contractors, or they may be self-employed. People in this occupation:

People in this occupation:

  • need strong math, organization, analytical, writing and communication skills
  • must have good computer skills due to the use of estimating software and document management programs
  • should have an interest in planning, decision making, problem solving, working with people, and the financial aspect of construction
  • must be able to handle stress during busy periods
Common job titles
  • estimator, contractors / trade contractors
  • estimator, electrical
  • estimator, mechanical
  • estimator, plumbing
  • estimator, principal
  • estimator, professional

Duties

Construction estimators:

  • estimate costs of materials, labour and equipment for projects based on contract bids, quotes, schematic drawings and specifications
  • advise on tendering procedures, examine and analyze tenders, recommend tender awards and conduct negotiations
  • establish and maintain tender process
  • prepare cost and expenditure statements and forecasts for a project
  • prepare and maintain a list of suppliers, contractors and subcontractors
  • liaise, consult and communicate with engineers, architects, owners, contractors and subcontractors, and prepare estimates on changes to cost estimates
  • may manage and co-ordinate construction projects and prepare progress schedules

Special duties

Estimators may specialize in estimating costs for structural, electrical or mechanical construction projects.

Work environment

Construction estimators typically work a 40 hour week, with overtime during busy periods. These workers spend a large portion of their day at construction sites; however, they also work in an office.

These workers may be exposed to hazards, including equipment-related hazards, chemicals or toxic materials. Safety precautions and protective equipment are worn to reduce risks.

There is a great deal of competition amongst construction estimator companies, so workers must be able to meet strict deadlines. Failure to meet a deadline can result in the loss of a week of work and preparation.

Industry sources report that construction estimators are increasingly required to understand the conceptual and planning stages of projects (i.e. early or conceptual estimates are increasingly required in addition to traditional detailed construction estimates).

Insights from industry

Most job openings will arise due to retirements.

The Construction industry is tied to the economy. When the economy is booming, typically contstruction activity follows and vice versa.

Qualified graduates entering the job market can expect opportunities. Industry reports there is a shortage of qualified estimators. In particular, smaller companies need highly trained estimators who can also serve as project managers or schedulers.

Individual’s that have experience with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and Public Private Partnerships (P3) will be in higher demand.

Contractors prefer estimators to be employees, due to the sensitive nature of cost information, so a construction boom translates into a demand for estimators employed with companies. When the market is slow, there will be more self-employed construction estimators.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Recent graduates can expect to begin as junior estimators, project coordinators, assistants to project superintendents or other support positions.

With experience, construction estimators can go on to become professional quantity surveyors, and advance to positions that oversee an entire project, such as senior estimator, chief estimator, project manager, risk manager, site supervisor, manager of pre-construction services, or vice-president of construction.

Estimators may specialize in estimating costs for structural, electrical or mechanical construction projects.

Additional resources