Construction Estimator: What Is It and How to Become

Construction Estimator: What Is It and How to Become

Construction estimators play a crucial role in the field of engineering and construction. They are the professionals responsible for finding the most practical and cost-effective ways to complete construction projects. Their work requires strong mathematical and analytical skills, as well as a deep understanding of economics and contracts.

Compared to other professionals in the construction industry, construction estimators often work longer hours and earn a higher salary. This is because their role involves negotiating contracts, making labour and material estimates, and finding the best deals for the contractor’s benefit. The satisfaction that comes with finding the right balance between cost and quality is of utmost importance to construction estimators.

Once you have the educational requirements, it’s time to gain practical experience. Many construction estimators start their careers as apprentices or entry-level technicians, working under the guidance of experienced professionals. This hands-on experience will help you understand the intricacies of the field and develop the necessary skills to excel as a construction estimator.

As you progress in your career, you can take on more challenging projects and eventually become a preconstruction consultant. This role requires a deep understanding of construction contracts, negotiation skills, and the ability to oversee multiple projects simultaneously. With the right combination of experience and expertise, you can expect a high salary and job satisfaction as a construction estimator.

In summary, becoming a construction estimator requires a strong educational background, practical training, and a willingness to work long hours. The role of a construction estimator is of utmost importance in the construction industry, and their work helps ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. If you’re willing to put in the effort and meet the necessary requirements, a career as a construction estimator can be a rewarding and fulfilling path.


Q: What are the educational requirements to become a construction estimator?

A: Most employers prefer candidates with at least a college degree in engineering, economics, or a related field. However, some construction estimators have been successful without a degree, relying on their practical experience and certifications.

Q: How much does a construction estimator earn?

A: The average salary for a construction estimator in 2018 was $64,040 per year. However, this can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and industry.

Q: Why is the role of a construction estimator important?

A: Construction estimators play a crucial role in ensuring that projects are completed within budget and on time. Their work helps contractors negotiate contracts, make accurate cost estimates, and find practical solutions to construction challenges.

Q: What steps are required to become a construction estimator?

A: To become a construction estimator, you need to meet the educational requirements, gain practical experience, and consider obtaining certifications to stand out in the field.

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Educational Requirements

High School Diploma

The first step in the educational progression for construction estimators is obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent. This provides a foundation in general education subjects and lays the groundwork for further studies.

College Training

Many construction professionals choose to further their education by pursuing a college degree or attending a technical school. While not always a requirement, having a degree in construction management or a related field can open up more opportunities and lead to higher-paying positions. Courses in mathematics, project management, and building sciences are particularly beneficial.

On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeships

Experienced construction estimators may also gain valuable skills and knowledge through on-the-job training and apprenticeships. This type of hands-on learning allows individuals to work under the guidance of experienced professionals and learn the ins and outs of the construction estimating profession.


For those looking to enhance their skills and demonstrate their expertise, there are various certifications available in the construction estimating field. The most common is the Certified Construction Estimator (CCE) certification, offered by the American Society of Professional Estimators. This certification validates an individual’s knowledge and proficiency in cost estimation and project management.

Career Progression

As construction estimators gain experience and develop their skills, they can progress into more senior roles such as project managers or senior estimators. These positions typically involve more responsibility and may require advanced educational qualifications or certifications.

Job Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for construction estimators is promising, with a projected growth rate of 6% from 2019 to 2029. Typical career paths for construction estimators include junior estimator, estimator, and senior estimator. With their unique set of skills, construction estimators can also explore other roles in the construction industry such as project manager or construction technician.

Median Salaries for Construction Estimators
Certified Estimators$64,040 per year
Non-certified Estimators$57,860 per year

Skills and Qualifications

To become a construction estimator, there are specific skills and qualifications that are high in demand and even required for the role. These skills are essential to successfully estimating the costs of construction projects and signing contracts with clients. Here are some of the key skills and qualifications you should have to pursue a career as a construction estimator:

  • Advanced mathematical skills: Estimating construction costs requires complex calculations and mathematical analysis. Being able to work with numbers and figures is crucial in this field.
  • Strong attention to detail: Construction estimators must have a deep understanding of the latest building codes and regulations. Paying close attention to even the smallest details is essential to accurately determine project costs.
  • Financially savvy: Estimating costs involves managing budgets and expenses. Knowledge of economics and financial principles is important to ensure projects are completed within the allocated budget.
  • Ability to work under pressure: Construction estimators often face tight deadlines and fast-paced work environments. The ability to work well under pressure is necessary to meet project timelines.
  • Good communication skills: Construction estimators need to effectively communicate with clients, suppliers, engineers, and project managers. Clear and concise communication is important to coordinate and negotiate project requirements.
  • Experience with estimating software: Many construction estimators use specialized software to assist in their calculations and data analysis. Familiarity with estimating software can significantly enhance productivity and accuracy.
  • College training: While not always required, many construction estimator positions prefer candidates with relevant college training or degrees in fields such as construction management, civil engineering, or architecture.
  • Apprenticeship or on-the-job training: Some construction estimators start as apprentices or gain experience through on-the-job training. This hands-on experience helps develop the necessary skills and knowledge in the field.
  • Certifications: The Society of Certified Construction Estimators (SCCE) offers certifications such as the Certified Construction Estimator (CCE) and the Specialist Estimating Professional (SEP) for those looking to further enhance their qualifications and marketability.
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By gaining the required skills and qualifications listed above, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful construction estimator. Remember, learning is a continuous process, and staying updated with the latest industry trends and techniques is key to excelling in this promising career path.

Job Outlook and Salary

Construction estimation is an essential role in the construction industry, and as society continues to develop, the need for experienced estimators will continue to rise. Estimators help contractors figure out how much a construction project will cost and help architects and engineers make informed decisions. The information provided by estimators is key to signing contracts, making it a vital role in the industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for construction estimators is around $65,000 per year. However, this can vary depending on factors such as experience, qualifications, and the size and complexity of projects being estimated. Estimators working on advanced and high-budget projects may earn even higher salaries.

To become a construction estimator, you don’t necessarily need a college degree, but having relevant qualifications and experience will give you an advantage. Many estimators start by working as technicians or on-the-job training, gradually gaining experience and progressing in their career. However, some employers may prefer candidates with college training or a degree in construction or engineering.

Requirements and Qualifications

The specific requirements to become a construction estimator can vary depending on the employer and the level of the role. However, here are some common qualifications and skills that employers may look for:

  • Strong mathematical and analytical skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to work with complex data
  • Knowledge of construction materials, techniques, and industry standards
  • Good communication skills to interact with contractors, architects, and engineers
  • Proficiency in using estimation software and tools
  • Ability to read blueprints and understand construction plans

Some employers may also prefer candidates who have certifications or professional designations related to estimation, such as Certified Professional Estimator (CPE) or Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis (SCEA) certification.

Overall, becoming a construction estimator can be a rewarding career choice with excellent job prospects and opportunities for growth. Whether you pursue a degree from a university or gain practical experience through on-the-job training, your deep understanding of construction economics and estimation techniques will help you excel in this role.

Work Experience

There are several options for gaining work experience as a construction estimator:

  1. Apprenticeship: Consider pursuing an apprenticeship with a construction contractor or estimation service provider. This allows you to learn from experienced estimators and gain hands-on experience in the field.
  2. Colleges and universities: Some institutions offer programs or courses in construction estimation that include practical training. This helps you develop the necessary skills and knowledge for the job.
  3. On-the-job training: If you’re already working in the construction industry, you could seek opportunities within your current role to gain experience in estimation. By working closely with estimators or taking on estimation responsibilities, you can learn on the job.
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Having work experience not only helps you develop the required skills and knowledge for the job, but it also demonstrates to employers that you have a practical understanding of estimation and are financially aware. In the construction industry, estimators play a key role in figuring out costs for projects, including labor, supplies, and materials.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for construction estimators was $64,040 in May 2018. This shows that becoming a construction estimator can be a promising career path, financially as well as professionally.

Overall, work experience is a crucial part of becoming a construction estimator. Whether through apprenticeship, college training, or on-the-job learning, gaining practical experience will help you develop the necessary skills and understanding to excel in this niche profession.


What does a construction estimator do?

A construction estimator is responsible for determining the cost of a construction project. They analyze project plans, takeoffs, and specifications to create accurate estimates of materials, labor, and equipment costs.

What skills are required to become a construction estimator?

To become a construction estimator, you need strong analytical skills, knowledge of construction techniques and materials, the ability to read blueprints and understand construction plans, excellent math skills, attention to detail, and proficiency in computer software programs such as estimating software.

What education is required to become a construction estimator?

While a formal education is not always required, most construction estimators have a bachelor’s degree in construction management, engineering, or a related field. Some employers may also require professional certifications or licenses.

How can I gain experience as a construction estimator?

You can gain experience as a construction estimator by starting as an entry-level estimator or working in related positions in the construction industry, such as a construction project coordinator or assistant estimator. You can also gain experience through internships or apprenticeships.

What are the job prospects for construction estimators?

The job prospects for construction estimators are expected to be favorable, as the construction industry continues to grow. The demand for construction estimators is driven by the need to accurately estimate costs and ensure the profitability of construction projects. Construction estimators can work for construction companies, contractors, or as independent consultants.

What is a construction estimator?

A construction estimator is a professional who calculates the costs of materials, labor, and equipment needed to complete a construction project. They analyze project specifications, review blueprints, and use specialized software to provide accurate cost estimates.

What skills are required to become a construction estimator?

To become a construction estimator, you need to have strong math skills, attention to detail, the ability to read and interpret blueprints, knowledge of construction materials and methods, excellent communication skills, and proficiency in using construction estimating software. Additionally, having a degree in construction management or a related field can be beneficial.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.