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How to become an Estimator

estimator careers

What does a Estimator do?

Estimators, often known as cost engineers, work for manufacturing, engineering, construction and service companies. They deal with the preparation, processing and submission of tenders for contracts by calculating the costs involved in supplying a product or service that meets the client’s technical specifications.

When making estimates they take into account factors such as material costs, cost of operating or hiring plant or specialist equipment, transport costs, labour and other overheads such as rent, administration, electricity and other services. Estimators also have to build into their bids risk identification, inflation and exchange rate variables, projected timescales and allowances to cover contingencies.

In putting bids together, data is gathered from internal company records, stock figures, price indices, industry journals, quotations from suppliers and sub-contractors, and transport and hire companies. Estimators may specialise in one area such as time, labour or transport, and on large projects a team of estimators may be involved.

It is commonplace for estimators to make use of specific IT software to compile, process and report on technical and commercial data. Senior staff will also be expected to analyse the effectiveness of software and make recommendations on which application to use for a particular costing project.

Estimators work closely with other professionals including quantity surveyors, buyers, construction managers and planning engineers.

What's the working environment like working as a Estimator?

Estimators work between 37 and 40 hours, Monday to Friday. However, overtime may be required when working to tight deadlines.

The work is usually office-based but estimators working in construction or engineering may be required to work on-site. In these situations protective clothing may be needed.

Travel to clients’ premises is often required, so a driving licence would be helpful.

What does it take to become a Estimator?

To work as an estimator you need:

  • strong numerical skills
  • good analytical skills and to be able to pay close attention to detail
  • excellent communication and presentation skills
  • good computer skills
  • good commercial awareness
  • an awareness of data confidentiality
  • the ability to work on your own and as part of a team
  • to be well organised and able to work to deadlines
  • an awareness of external factors such as legislation, trends in prices and exchange rates.

Where appropriate, an understanding of engineering or architectural drawings and principles will be required, as well as detailed knowledge of manufacturing or construction processes and costs.

Estimator Career Opportunities

Prospects are good as jobs are available in many sectors: light and heavy engineering, manufacturing, process industries such as oil and chemicals, public utilities, transport and construction.

Many larger companies have estimating departments. Opportunities to progress to project leader, section manager and estimating department manager may become available. With experience and further training, promotion may be possible to more senior roles, such as cost engineer. Larger firms may have positions working on overseas contracts.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Estimator that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

SEMTA (Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
Watford
Hertfordshire
WD18 0JT
Tel: 0808 100 3682
www.semta.org.uk

CITB-ConstructionSkills
Bircham Newton
King's Lynn
Norfolk
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
www.citb.org.uk

Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB)
Blue Court
Church Lane
Kings Langley
Hertfordshire
WD4 8JP
Tel: 01923 260000
www.ecitb.org.uk

The Association of Cost Engineers
Lea House
5 Middlewich Road
Sandbach
Cheshire
CW11 1XL
www.acoste.org.uk

The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC)
www.uk-spec.org.uk