The accuracy of the cost estimation process can make or break project success. The role of an Estimator is often one of the most crucial steps in a project life span and often one of the most important roles within a company.
However, since the UK recession ended and the construction industry benefitted from a significant boom, there has been an increase of the number of people undertaking Quantity Surveying, meaning in some cases there are more surveyors than there are jobs and leaving that all important gap in the role of an Estimator.
What is the difference?
Although very similar in pay scale and in skills, the common perception is that QS is the more appealing job out of the two. However, we would argue that it is the role of an Estimator who has the better job and generally enjoys what they do more.
If you believe that Estimators – who are sometimes referred to in the trade as ‘bean-counters’ – are just sitting in an office number crunching, you’d be sadly mistaken. As Estimator has the luxury of getting to know the client, understanding their requirements, working with budgets, researching products, managing risks and expectations.
We would go as far to say that the Estimator gets to do the fun part of the job and the QS it is left to deal with the the conflicts that can occur after it is passed on. This is the part of QS training that they don’t tell you about!
Change of career?
Unfortunately estimating is an area that you could say demonstrates where academia is out of touch with industry. With the majority of qualifications focusing on Quantity Surveying, it leaves those who could be excellent Estimators perhaps struggle at the wrong job for them.
We would encourage any Quantity Surveyors who are considering a career change to seriously think about becoming an Estimator. We would also say to any tradesmen who are mathematically minded to also consider a career in estimating. Our own Managing Director came from a joinery background and moved onto Surveying then finally Estimating. Other members of staff have come from studying QS at University or come from the building site.
What makes a good Estimator?
Estimators must be self starters, good forward planners and are often required to make judgments or assessments in relation to budget costs from limited information. As an estimator you would work closely with other professionals including construction managers, planners and design teams, so team working skills are essential. Communication is key to being able to confidently communicate with clients and suppliers from the get go would be to your advantage.
If you are interested in a career as an Estimator, with some experience but more to learn we would like to hear from you.