What is a Construction Estimator and how do I become one?

Building construction takes the skills and expertise of so many people. We all know about engineers, builders and tradespeople and their roles in construction projects. However, there are dozens of other careers in the construction industry. Construction Estimator is one such example which is less broadly known yet it is super important for the overall success of a construction project.

Whether you’re contemplating a career switch or starting out, Construction Estimator is a career worth considering.

A Construction Estimator is responsible for determining the cost of materials, labour and any other inputs to complete a construction project. The focus is on accuracy and reliability so in that respect, “estimate” can be a misleading term. They will need to define the costs as close to the final figure as possible. Estimators ensure the project is delivered on time, to budget and without any unexpected costs cropping up along the way.

Understanding of laws and building regulations is a requirement of the job. Likewise, the ability to interpret plans and drawings is essential.

You will work with others such as construction managers, architects, surveyors, engineers and suppliers of materials and labour to help establish a budget. Critically you will need to understand the role each of these services in the construction project to provide an overall picture of how they will affect your budget.

You don’t need to have a head for figures to balance the costs and develop accurate financial forecasts. Construction estimators use technology software to compute estimates and produce reports. Estimator’s reports and cost estimates are used in the planning and tendering process by other stakeholders.

How do I get a job as a Construction Estimator?

There are three estimating qualifications offered in Australia:

1. Certificate IV in Building & Construction (Estimating)
2. Diploma of Building & Construction
3. Bachelor of Construction Management

In addition to relevant training, a Construction Estimator will require a whitecard and relevant site safety certification.

Those with experience in the construction industry already, such as Project Managers, Construction Managers or Site Managers may find it a logical lateral career move. For some, the allure of becoming an Estimator can be due to the more office-based hours and work location. Estimators regularly make site and supplier visits but generally they have an office-based role. If you’re used to years of early starts and inclement weather, you might be drawn to the more sociable work hours and office environment.

Often Estimators prefer to establish a niche for themselves such as estimating construction projects in one or two disciplines. This could be retail, medical, residential, commercial or aged care. But there is really no limit to the specialisation you can choose. If someone wants to build, they will need an Estimator!

In capital and metro cities in Australia, having a niche area can be a lucrative career option, particularly if you gain a reputation as being an expert in your field. In other locations, it can be the case that an Estimator has a more varied skill set due to the volume and variety of work available.

What are my career prospects as a Construction Estimator?

The website claims the average annual salary of a construction estimator is $95,576. Anecdotally, the roles we have had advertised on Extiro have paid a lot more than this.

Estimators may work in consultancy firms or permanently within a larger organisation such as construction or property development firm. Short term roles are also an option but are not common. There is also the option for an Estimator to set up their own business as a Consultant Estimator.

As with any role in the construction industry, economic conditions can very quickly change in the construction job market. Because the role of an Estimator is focused on quality and cost control, it is a career that rides the ebbs and flows of construction downturns better than some others.

Clients are often recruiting for Estimators on the Extiro platform. It is one of our more common job roles. This is great news for those hoping to transition to a career as an Estimator, or an Estimator looking for their next role. There certainly seems to be more demand than supply!

For more information about Estimator roles with our network of leading companies, contact us at or 1300 398 476.

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