Job Description

Construction Estimator

Job Description, Salary, Job Requirements and more


What Does a Construction Estimator Do?

A construction estimator is a vital position within the construction and home improvement industries. Construction estimators determine the estimated costs for a construction company to complete a project for a client. The company uses these cost estimates to establish their pricing or bids for the projects that they are competing for.

The job description of a construction estimator changes based on several key factors. These factors can include whether the estimator is focused on new construction projects or their projects are renovations of existing structures. In addition, their roles and responsibilities can change based on how the company they work for is structured. Certain employers may narrow the focus their estimators onto turning out bids. Other companies may require their estimators to incorporate sales or project management duties into their overall jobs. This changes based on how the business is structured.

Estimators who are strictly focused on new construction are required to be able to read and understand plans and specifications. They must be able to complete take-offs of plans and specifications. Take-offs are the process of separating the information needed to develop a competent bid from all of the information found in the plans and specifications. Once the information is gathered, the estimator enters the information into the company estimating system to arrive at a final price for the project.

Construction estimators do not only work on new construction projects. There are many trades that work on existing structures. Projects involving existing buildings require a different approach from new construction. Estimators complete take-offs for renovations to existing buildings by visiting those sites and gathering the needed information. They enter this information into the company estimating system to be able to develop pricing for the project.

In addition to these responsibilities, estimators must also be able to handle receiving quotes for both materials and subcontractors associated with the projects being bid. Estimators must be able to communicate effectively with vendors and subcontractors to receive accurate quotes for materials, equipment and subcontractors related to the job they are estimating. As a result, networking is a critical skill that estimators needed to develop.

Estimators are required to have strong math abilities. Bids and estimates are developed using math skills including simple arithmetic, algebra and geometry. In addition, estimators also need to be very detail oriented. Attention to detail is vital when building a career as a construction estimator. Overlooking key information is a leading cause of projects failing.

There is a lot of information to sort through when developing a construction estimate. Estimators must be able to consider multiple aspects of developing competent estimates including manufacturer requirements, building codes and insurance requirements. Building a successful career as a construction estimator requires candidates to be able to gather the information from the site and design a solution that meets the requirements of the building owner, the building code, the product manufacturer and potentially the insurance company.

Commercial vs. Residential

Construction estimators play a vital role in construction firms whether they are focused on residential customers, commercial clients or have a book of business that includes both markets.

The foundation for both residential and commercial estimating is very similar. Both require successful estimators to be strong in math skills as well as have a very high attention to detail. Without a focus on detail, details are overlooked that can have a severe impact on the performance of the job.

There are differences between residential and commercial. Those interested in building a relationship with the customer and developing a collaborative solution may find it more fulfilling to participate in the residential market. Those who enjoy reading plans and organizing large amounts of information may find commercial new construction estimating a better choice for their careers.

When considering a career in construction estimating, it is best to not only consider residential versus commercial. Also consider the choice between new construction and estimating building renovation projects. New construction residential estimating is much different than commercial building renovations.


Job Requirements


  • Developing estimates and bids for construction projects.
  • Completing take-offs to gather information for bids.
  • Reading plans and specifications.
  • Understanding and navigating building codes.
  • Reviewing sites and gathering information for estimates for work on existing buildings.
  • Designing solutions for customer’s problems.
  • Operating company estimating system to develop bids and estimates.


The qualifications for becoming a construction estimator depend on the specific industry segment (e.g. general construction, electrician, roofing, etc.) that someone is interested in pursuing within construction. In order to become a construction estimator it is important to build the three legs of the career stool – good judgment, experience and education.

To develop your career as a construction estimator, look for opportunities to build your ability to make good judgments. Look for experiences that can help you refine your abilities. And grow yourself through education and training for your chosen field.


  • Strong math skills including basic arithmetic, algebra and geometry.
  • Knowledge of Microsoft Office products with a focus on Microsoft Word and Excel.
  • Strong typing skills.
  • Knowledge of building code.
  • Ability to read and navigate plans and specifications.
  • Good interpersonal and written communication skills.
  • Detailed oriented.

Education Needed

Education requirements will vary from employer to employer and will be trade specific. For example, estimating in heavy highway construction may require an engineering degree. Estimating in carpentry or other specialty trades may only require a high school diploma or equivalent.


How Much Does a Construction Estimator Make?

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Career Path

How do I become a Construction Estimator?

The path to becoming a Construction Estimator is different depending on the specific trade that you are interested in getting into. The key is to understand the Career Stool and the three legs that support the Career Stool. The legs of the Career Stool are:

  • Good Judgment
  • Education
  • Experience

Start out by learning how to exercise good judgment. Study those around you and learn from their mistakes. Practice good judgment with everyday problems that you face and continue to build your skills.

Build your education through a combination of training resources and on-the-job training. Construction estimators in most trades come from the ranks of those who started out working in the field. They have learned and grown their knowledge over time which allowed them to move into the Construction Estimator position.

Gather your experiences. Experiences come from putting yourself into different situations where you can learn something new. Learn from the experiences to help you be better equipped to handle situations as they arise.

A sample career path for an estimator may be:

  1. Construction laborer
  2. Construction mechanic
  3. Assistant estimator
  4. Lead or Senior Estimator



An effective resume can be the difference between you getting a call back for a job opportunity or being overlooked. Our “Resume 101: How to Write a Construction Worker Resume” course provides a helpful tool to assist you in writing an effective construction worker resume.

Career Options

Similar Professions

If you’re interested in this career, you might also be interested in:

Construction Cost Accounting, Construction Sales Representative, Project Manager, Superintendent.