How To Become a Construction Estimator in the USA

6th January, 2021

The US construction industry’s future looks bright, and the need for trained construction estimators is increasing. Not only is there a demand for qualified personnel, but the position is also well-paid. Per the US Bureau of  Labor Statistics, the median pay in 2019 was $65,250.  There are several different ways you can become a construction estimator from going to college, getting a certificate, gaining hands-on experience, or a combination of education and experience. Read on to find out which option is your best choice.

Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management

The top degrees for this position are construction management, building science, construction engineering, architecture, or civil engineering. Although you don’t have to have that type of degree, it does give you an advantage, especially if you’re looking to work for a large company.

These construction-related degrees give you the needed background and cover topics such as:

  • Business
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Math
  • Physics
  • Construction law
  • Cost estimating
  • Building codes
  • Construction methods
  • Construction materials
  • Safety

In addition to classes, some schools offer internships, and often students will take a part-time job at a construction company while attending college. This hands-on experience gives students a boost and lets them know what’s ahead for them in their new career.

Top 10 Colleges For Aspiring Construction Estimators

Some of the best colleges for construction management degrees and certificates are:

  1. Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ
  2. Wentworth Institute of Technology – Boston MA
  3. Louisiana State University – Baton Rouge, LA
  4. Virginia Tech – Blacksburg, VA
  5. Drexel University – Philadelphia, PA
  6. Clemson University – Clemson, SC
  7. Brigham Young University – Provo, UT
  8. Roger Williams University – Bristol, RI
  9. Milwaukee School of Engineering – Milwaukee, WI
  10. Illinois State University – Normal, IL

Construction Estimator Certificate Route

Many people choose the Construction Estimator Certificate route because it focuses on the exact courses you need without anything extra. That saves you so much time and gets you on the job earning a good wage sooner. Certification shows proof of your abilities.

Several colleges listed above offer certificate programs.  Here are a few more, with many offering online classes.

If you’d like to become a Certified Estimate Professional, you can do so through the AACE (Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering). Eligibility requirements include

  • 8 years of industry-related experience or
  • 4 years of industry-related experience and a 4-year industry-related college degree
  • Passing score on the examination

Another option for certification is through SCEA (The Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis). Their requirements are

  • 7 years of industry-related experience
  • 7 years of combined education and experience
  • Passing score on the examination

Construction Experience

Even those with a college degree will need on-the-job training, which consists of working alongside an experienced estimator, which can last for months or even years.

If you’re already in the construction industry, it’s possible that you can move up and become an estimator. Work in the field is invaluable when it comes to knowing how to accurately estimate.

Education and Hands-On Experience

Possibly one of the best options is to have a combination of both education to learn the specific skills you’ll need to estimate and experience working in the construction industry. It’s possible to start with a company and work up to this position while getting the experience and education you need. Many larger firms will help pay for your schooling.

A construction estimator must be knowledgeable in project management, construction management, financial analysis, spreadsheets, and accounting software.  Plus, they must be willing to stay up to date with various software and industry changes.

The future looks bright for the construction industry, and there will always be a need for intelligent individuals who know how to deliver accurate estimates. We hope you’ve found this article helpful and have given you ideas on how you can become a professional construction estimator. Check back often for more items and contact us with any questions or topics you’d like us to cover.

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