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Top Traits of a Great Estimator

Posted: September 28, 2018

Conley Smith, Sr. Business Writer

Let’s say you’re a landscaping contractor who needs an additional construction estimator. With an admin surfing plan rooms for projects to bid, you want someone with strong estimating skills to help you scope and bid the best projects for your business.

Not so fast. Beefing up your pre-construction game isn’t that simple. While a new AGC survey showed that 80% of contractors are having a tough time hiring hourly workers, it also noted that another 56% are struggling to fill salaried positions like cost estimators. In high demand, this position recently ranked No. 12 on Indeed’s Top 25 Best Jobs list with an average base salary of $78,052.

While some construction firms may opt to hire talent right out of college and invest in their training, others prefer to draft estimators from their ranks, preferably from the field. Either way, it’s critical that they have the skills to handle the high-pressure demands of construction estimating.

To help in your hiring efforts, On Center has developed a great, new interactive Infographic, Anatomy of a Great Estimator detailing seven traits you should look for in an estimator. Here are three things you should look for when hiring a new estimator:

Technology Driving Demand for New Skills

  1. Field experience. More and more, contractors are looking for estimators with field experience—even if from summer jobs. Understanding how a project is put together, the time and labor required, helps to provide insight into areas where projects have hidden profit. Our survey showed that more than 70% of estimators have 15+ years of experience.
  2. Ability to conceptualize. Successful estimators can not only easily read and interpret drawings and specifications, but also visualize what is not apparent and take efforts to mitigate any potential risks. In fact, 65.5% of estimators we surveyed say this skill is critical for success.
  3. Detail-oriented and organized. Great estimators must keep track and document large volumes of drawings and specs, along with client communications, to ensure accuracy. Calculations, along with the latest subcontractor prices and area multipliers, can change in the blink of an eye. Estimators must be organized and capable of tracking down missing details to ensure the technical accuracy of all cost estimates.

As with everything in construction today, roles are changing—especially for the cost estimator. It’s no longer just about returning a set of plans with a number. With rising client expectations, today’s owners have a lot riding on costly change orders and delays.

As a result, it’s essential that estimators have the know-how to use tech tools like estimating software to analyze historical cost data and pinpoint a range of prices based on different scenarios. To no one’s surprise, this means a great estimator has evolved from being someone who is good at math to being good at a lot of things.

Ready to see all seven traits of a great estimator? Check out our new infographic, Anatomy of a Great Estimator, now to learn more. To help you attract top talent in a competitive hiring market, On Center Software has also created a How to Hire a Great Estimator Guide. You’ll get step-by-step advice on everything from writing a winning job description to identifying top candidates. Download How to Hire a Great Estimator Guide now.

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