what is an estimator?

As an estimator, you collect and analyse the information necessary for estimating the materials, labour, time and cost for manufacturing a product, providing a service or constructing a building. For instance, if a company is manufacturing cars, your job is to break down the costs associated with the manufacturing process. As an estimator, you also analyse a project's current manufacturing or construction costs and find ways to optimise expenses and stick to the original budgets.

Companies are always in search of cost-effective production methods and accurate cost estimations. Hence, cost estimators should be attentive to details and analytical to provide correct cost projections. As an estimator, you help the company determine whether producing or purchasing a product is more cost effective. The cost projections also assist managers in deciding on subcontractors and price determination.

As an estimator, you can work in various industries that require cost estimation to optimise expenses in the production process. For instance, most estimators work for manufacturing firms like vehicle and equipment manufacturing plants or construction sites. Other estimators work in engineering firms or mining companies to estimate the cost of mining processes and find ways to optimise costs.

estimator jobs

average estimator salary

An estimator earns an average remuneration package of $92,000 annually. The salary usually depends on skills, qualifications and experience. Hence, estimators joining the field start with an entry level salary of $70,000 annually, which increases gradually as their expertise in the role improves. Skilled estimators take home over $100,000 per year. While benefits and allowances aren't part of the employment contract, some companies provide benefits like car and house allowances or medical insurance in their remuneration packages. You also receive additional pay for working overtime or in the form of annual bonuses.

how to increase the salary of an estimator

An estimator's salary is tied to their experience level and expertise. When you have over five years of experience, your expertise in the role improves your salary prospects. Your qualifications are also an important consideration when determining the remuneration package. Having additional qualifications boosts your salary prospects and gives you bargaining power. Where you live impacts your earnings as an estimator. Working in metro areas correlates to a higher salary due to the high cost of living and the demand for estimators.

close up, smiling woman
close up, smiling woman

types of estimators

Some of the common types of cost estimators include:

  • construction estimators: as a construction estimator, you estimate the cost of construction projects. For instance, if your employer is building a commercial building, shopping centre or bridge, you estimate the expenses involved in the construction. Your job consists in analysing the raw materials required, labour costs and duration of the construction process.
  • manufacturing estimators: as a manufacturing cost estimator, you assist the production team in optimising costs by determining the expenses associated with manufacturing or redesigning a product. You gather information on materials needed and evaluate cost-effective production methods. You also assess the profitability of the manufactured products.

working as an estimator

An estimator provides valuable information on the costs of producing a product or completing a construction project. Hence, you assist managers in decision-making and help the construction or manufacturing team to optimise project costs. Other duties and work settings of estimators are explained below.


education and skills

Some of the academic qualifications of an estimator include:

  • certificate or apprenticeship: to become an estimator, pursue a certificate or diploma in estimation. Typical courses include Certificates in building and construction (estimating). Alternatively, join a relevant apprenticeship with a registered practitioner and gain hands-on experience.
  • work experience: most employers require work experience from estimators. You can gain experience from internships and entry-level jobs in the construction industry. You also need a White Card to work on any construction site.

estimator skills and competencies

Important qualities for estimators include:

  • maths skills: as an estimator, you rely on mathematical skills to calculate the costs of materials, labour and other pricing considerations. Maths skills also help you with measurements and estimating dimensions from blueprints.
  • communication skills: as an estimator, you work with various professionals and make presentations to managers. Communication skills help you pass information clearly and ensure everyone from the construction team understands the project's scope. Communication skills also help you write reports and present estimates in simple terms that clients can understand.
  • organisation skills: as an estimator, you rely on organisation skills to keep track of your work and team. You create a schedule that prioritises tasks and avoids project delays. Organisation skills also help you track the budgets and expenses of a project.
  • problem-solving skills: as an estimator, you resolve problems during manufacturing or construction. You rely on your problem-solving skills to find solutions that optimise costs.

FAQs about working as an estimator

Here are the most asked questions about working as an estimator:

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