If you like meeting and interacting with people as much as you enjoy working with numbers, a career as an estimator might be great for you.
Apprentice estimators help estimate the cost of providing goods or services to consumers or potential clients.
The estimator’s responsibility is to consider all relevant details about each construction project and calculate how much it would cost to meet the client’s requirements. Because quality is weighed alongside price, the winning offer is sometimes the cheapest. Therefore, estimators must not only give financial expenditures and analyses but also generate a high-quality report.
Estimators may also be referred to as cost engineers or construction estimators. They may be found in a variety of firms depending on their area of expertise or interest. You may be an estimate for a school, a road, a bridge, a business centre, a residential neighbourhood, or sewage works. Estimators may work on little, one-time projects or on larger, multi-year initiatives.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- research materials, equipment, transport and labour costs
- collect quotes from materials suppliers and sub-contractors
- help plan job timescales
- assess the levels of risk on a project
- analyse company data, exchange rates and prices
- prepare and submit quotations and cost summaries for work
- help with bids for new contracts and support buying activities
- monitor the stages of a project to make sure costs are kept in line with forecasts.
- Starting salaries for apprentice estimators are around £20,000.
- Experienced estimators can earn between £25,000 and £35,000.
- Senior, chartered or master estimators can expect salaries reaching £67,000.
Typically, you’ll work office hours Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, on average working between 37 to 40 hours per week. But, as bid submission deadlines loom, some late nights can be expected.
You could work in an office.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice estimator include:
- Level 3 Project Controls Technician – Entry requirements for this level include 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. This qualification takes 36 months to complete.
- Level 6 Project Controls Professional – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification takes 48 months to complete.
- Level 6 Construction Site Manager – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification takes 36 months to complete.
On an estimator apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- maths knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- analytical thinking skills
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- persistence and determination
- knowledge of building and construction
- business management skills
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Estimators tend to be employed within the private sector by contractors or sub-contractors. Some are also employed as consultants.
The main employers of estimators include:
- engineering companies
- consultancy firms
- infrastructure groups
- facilities management organisations
- construction and property development companies
- civil engineering firms
- rail track construction companies
- specialist highway services
- mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) service providers
- carpentry and joinery sub-contractors
- interior fitters.
The highest level of membership in the Association of Cost Engineers is ‘fellow,’ which requires superior responsibility for cost engineering activities for at least six years and association engagement for at least five years.
Although not compulsory, you may choose to pursue postgraduate study. Among the eligible subjects are an MSc in Construction Project and Cost Management, Quantity Surveying, or Construction Management.
Following your apprenticeship, you will often work as an estimator or quantity surveyor’s assistant. You usually require at least three years of work experience before being promoted to the estimator position.
After gaining more years of experience as an estimator, you may pursue development as a project team leader, quality assurance inspector, or contracts manager. In addition, some estimators go into related disciplines like quantity surveying, supply chain management, or general management.