In a pre-apprenticeship construction estimator program, students learn about each stage of the estimating process, and begin developing the fundamental skills needed to succeed in this field.
Topics covered in training include occupational health and safety, computer software for architectural modelling and rendering, performing research and cost calculations, the bidding process, and how to prepare financial reports.
The goal is to prepare students to fulfill the role of junior estimator, during which they will further develop their skills and experience, and eventually take the lead on projects independently.
So, what specific skills can you expect to start building during pre-apprenticeship training, and continue honing throughout your career? The following 5 attributes are widely considered essential in the estimating field, and key to a successful career.
1. Math Skills
Construction estimators must be comfortable working with numbers. Although computers and calculators can help with routine tasks, the ability to perform “mental math” and analyze numerical data quickly and accurately are enormous assets for estimators.
Strong math skills are required to prepare realistic estimates for materials, labour, equipment, and subcontracts. This really is the foundation of construction estimating for any type of project, including civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical construction projects. Inaccurate estimates, or mistakes made during calculations, can result in huge losses for the construction company.
2. Analytical Skills and an Eye for Detail
For construction estimators, calculation and analysis go hand-in-hand. In order to gather the data needed to project costs for each project, estimators must be able to conduct research and analyze various kinds of documents.
You will need to interpret blueprints, schematics, manual drawings, and electronic simulations, and be able to visualize each step of the building process. Estimators must also research historical pricing trends, and stay on top of the fluctuating costs of certain materials (like lumber) which can change on the open market.
By paying close attention to detail, and conducting thorough analyses, estimators can predict how one change in cost may impact other parts of a project, and adjust their overall projections accordingly.
3. Data Management and Organizational Skills
Once the estimate is complete and the building project has begun, it is the estimator’s job to carefully monitor costs and make estimating adjustments throughout the entire project lifecycle. This entails setting up a cost monitoring system, preparing summary reports, and creating financial statements to report regularly on expenditure and budget.
To be effective, estimators must keep track of and record many data points, so each stakeholder stays informed with accurate, up-to-date information as the project unfolds.
4. Excellent Communication Skills
Construction estimating is not just about crunching numbers, analyzing data, and record-keeping. Estimators are also important coordinators and liaisons both before and during the building phase. It is the estimator’s job to communicate and consult with engineers, architects, owners, contractors and subcontractors. They must manage and coordinate the construction process, and continuously update the progress schedule.
Excellent written and oral communication skills are absolutely essential for this role, and a key attribute of successful estimators.
5. Adaptive to Technology
During construction estimator training, students will be exposed to software, such as AutoCAD, to learn 2D drafting and 3D modelling, which is helpful during the estimating process. There is also a wide variety of construction estimating software that estimators must learn and adapt to, such as CoConstruct, STACK Estimating, and Buildertrend.
These programs offer increasingly sophisticated, automated, and cloud-based tools for managing bids, purchase orders, documents, proposals, change orders, etc.—and easily communicate updates to subcontractors, vendors, customers, and other stakeholders.
Estimators must be comfortable working with these kinds of programs, computers in general, and be quick to learn and adapt to evolving estimating technologies.
Consider the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute’s Construction Electrical Mechanical Estimator Training, delivered at both the Toronto and Cambridge campuses.
Visit the program page for a list of courses, admission information, or to chat live with a friendly advisor. We’re here to help!
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