Estimators work across a variety of industries. They have a wide understanding of the elements that build-up a successful project and how to value them. An estimator needs to liaise with suppliers to get accurate quotes and then add these to the fair estimations of the company’s existing talents for a project.
What is an estimator?
An estimator provides cost estimates to clients, potential clients or heads of department for upcoming projects or service uses. Estimators must research the product or service they are estimating to provide an accurate quote.
Estimators work in a range of different industries. Traditionally, estimators are thought of in relation to construction, known as construction estimators, mechanical estimators, electrical estimators or cost engineers. Despite this, estimators work in industries including accounting, research and development, engineering and business, though construction is the most common - however, you may require a CSCS card to visit some construction sites.
The general estimator salary in the UK largely depends on who you are working for and where.
Estimators are often used as a means of tendering for specific estimating jobs. Generally, an estimator tries to walk the fine line between providing an affordable job cost to a potential client and an offer that will not lose the company money.
The responsibilities of an estimator will depend on the company you work for and the industry you work in. Generally, the responsibilities for an estimator are:
- Briefing quantity surveyors.
- Calculating costs of work.
- Compiling necessary information to create and submit bids.
- Dealing with client inquiries and issues.
- Ensuring the bid takes the needs of the client into account.
- Keep an eye on inflation rates.
- Liaise with clients.
- Liaise with department heads.
- Liaising with site managers.
- Present bids and other findings to clients.
- Reading and aiding with the design of blueprints.
- Visit construction sites.
These responsibilities can extend further once you move into more senior roles. At a senior level, you will be responsible for training other estimators, managing budgets and the tendering process.
The general estimator salary in the UK largely depends on who you are working for and where. The qualifications you have can also impact the salary you can earn too.
To begin with, the starting estimator’s salary is usually around £30,000. This salary can rise as high as £42,000 with the appropriate experience. A senior estimator salary can be as high as £61,000.
A degree is not a requirement for this role but is useful. A degree is also starting to become more of an industry requirement, though it may take several years before this is an industry-wide requirement, and it will still largely depend on the company you apply to.
Most companies will handle your training and development in-house, but you will also be responsible for your own training.
Generally, a higher national certificate (HNC), higher national diploma (HND) or BTEC will be enough. Those who wish to study these courses or an undergraduate degree at university would be best studying subjects such as:
- Accounting degrees
- Building degrees
- Civil engineering degrees
- Construction management degrees
- Finance degrees
- Mathematics degrees
- Quantity surveying degrees
These degrees can also be studied at a postgraduate level. Postgraduate degrees are also not required for the role, but they will help immensely when applying for roles.
Training and developments
Most companies will handle your training and development in-house, but you will also be responsible for your own training. Generally, it is recommended that you register with industry organisations such as the Association of Cost Engineers, Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) or Go Construct, which will have in-depth training courses for you to explore, as well as apprenticeship opportunities, job listings, work experience placements, estimator jobs and internships listed.
Work experience is not essential for this role but is recommended.
Generally, regulated industries require those in the industry to complete a continuing professional development (CPD). A CPD is not always needed for this role, however, as you may be working in a regulated industry, your company may ask you to complete a CPD. If this is the case, registration with one of the above organisations can be very helpful, as they will also have CPD training and support available for those who need it.
You will require several important skills to succeed in this role. The main skills needed for an estimator are:
- An ability to work alone.
- An ability to work in a team.
- Commercial awareness.
- Excellent mathematical skills.
- Excellent negotiation skills.
- Excellent problem-solving skills.
- Leadership skills.
- Project management skills.
- Project management skills.
- The ability to work deadlines.
These skills can be further honed through training and development. It is also possible to pick up other skills when on the job, such as efficiency and time management.
Work experience is not essential for this role but is recommended. Employers tend to prefer applicants with experience in the industry or with experience estimating in other or related industries.
Generally, you will need to find a work experience placement. This may mean that you have to forgo the estimation side of things. Picking up valuable experience in other areas of construction or business can prove invaluable, especially since estimators need to have a good understanding of many different areas of a company when making their estimates.
The career prospects for an estimator can lead to some very interesting jobs. Many estimators typically start off as assistant estimator or junior estimators (or trainee estimator) and then work their way up to becoming fully-qualified estimators from there.
An estimator provides cost estimates to clients, potential clients or heads of department for upcoming projects or service uses.
Once you have become an estimator, the potential for new and exciting roles opens up further. Many estimators move into roles like quantity surveying, in which they will be responsible for managing all elements of a construction project and will be required to manage estimators, architects and site workers.
Estimators do not have to stay in construction-based roles, however. It is possible to move into areas of business management or to work in areas of finance, either in credit control, accounting or finance management. These roles do require more specific qualifications; however, your experience as an estimator will be greatly appreciated. Areas such as supply chain management or contracts management are also possible.