GLEN’S SOAPBOX – ESTIMATING AS A CAREER
In my article How to Mentor Younger Estimators, I talk about how many estimators enter the field via TAFE or university study.
But what about before that? How do you know if all of that study is worth the investment? Or what if you’re thinking about transitioning from another field—will estimating be the right choice for you?
Here are 5 reasons why estimating might be a great career choice for you.
You’re good with detail, but you can still envision the big picture. It’s an estimator’s job to get entrenched in the fine-print then work back up from there. Whether comparing quotes from subcontractors or cross-checking take-offs, you need to be able to build the project in your mind.
Good maths skills are a must, but the best estimators can also multitask and communicate well, because gathering data for your estimate requires juggling different types of information and talking to all sorts of suppliers.
It’s not just skills, you need the right mindset. Persistence is key, because so much of estimating is learning from past experiences. You also need to be humble. Confidence is wonderful, but a classic mistake in estimating is not getting someone to review your work.
Double check yourself by all means, but utilise your network of estimators or project managers as a second set of eyes. A good reviewer will be able to note the details without getting lost in them, and match them up to the big picture. Everyone makes errors, but good reviewing processes will help catch them. Arrogance will not.
3. Challenge and Variety
The ultimate goal of estimating is to win the bid and make money on the project. Every estimate presents its own unique challenge, and this variety keeps the work from becoming repetitive. Roads, bridges, mines, runways—estimators must build the project in their mind, cost and present it, then move to the next thing. A new challenge is always just around the corner.
4. Earning potential
In Australia, Seek estimates the average annual earning capacity of a building estimator to be between $75-$95K (citation: https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/role/building-estimator).
That’s not too shabby, but this line of work has the potential to earn even more. Highly skilled estimators might earn up to $200K per annum. To compare, an experienced project manager might earn similar, but if your skills and abilities align with estimating, there’s some serious coin to be made.
5. Future Prospects
But what about the future? Circumstances change; people want to take their career in a different direction. Some people say it is easier to switch to project management from estimating than back the other way, because similar principles apply, but the timeline slows down.
If you like strategy, consider business development as an option. If you are enthusiastic about what your company builds, think about bringing that energy to sales. The ability to understand detail while appreciating the concept as a whole will transfer well to other areas. Estimating skills apply to more than just estimating.
Now you have a better understanding about what makes estimating great, you can decide if it is a great career for YOU.
Want to upskill as an estimator? Check out our online training courses!
Glen Townsley is the founder of Pronamics, and has spent over 30 years building estimating software after a successful career as a civil estimator and project manager.