Contract Administrator vs Building Estimator: Which is right for me?


contract administrator vs building estimator - which is right for me?

Both a contract administrator and building estimator play an important part in any construction work site. While both offer the same level of demand, they both play different roles in the management and oversight of a construction project.

Figuring out what role is best for you might seem like a difficult task, but by understanding what each job requires, the benefits of each, and matching up which skills suit you best, you can know which construction pathway is right for you.

Contract Administrator

What is a contract administrator?

A contract administrator is responsible for managing and handling contracts within a construction site. They have an understanding of contracts and their legal requirements, and how to draft them for construction projects.

Contract administrators also negotiate with project managers and stakeholders, oversee the duration of the contract, ensure the obligations within it have been met, and usually oversee the delivery of goods and services relating to the contract.

Contract administrators can travel too – if they are working with subcontractors they may travel out to each site to negotiate, oversee sites to ensure they are meeting contract obligations, and work with a team up until project completion.

Skills required for contract administration

There are a handful of interpersonal, professional, and ‘hands-on’ skills required to be a contract administrator. Some of these will come from your own experience, and many can be learned through a formal qualification.

The top skills required for a successful career in contract administration are:

  • Knowledge of the construction industry
  • Financial understanding of construction costs
  • Understanding of legal codes relating to construction workplaces
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving
  • Stakeholder management

How to become a contract administrator?

If you’re working in construction and ready to progress your career, contract administration might just be the right path for you.

CAL’s Certificate IV in Building Project Support (Contract Administrator) (CPC40320) will teach you the pragmatic and fundamental skills you need to further your career in a contract administration role. When studying with CAL, you’ll enjoy the benefits of flexible online learning, allowing you to work and develop your hands-on skills, whilst also gaining your formal qualification at your own pace.

Upon completion of this course, you’ll have the necessary skills to work as a contract administrator, with an average salary of $115,000.* This role also has an expected job growth of 8.8% in the next five years, making it adverse to job uncertainty and offering plenty of opportunities for the long term.


Building Estimator

What is a building estimator?

A building estimator is responsible for the estimation of costs regarding building and construction plans and projects. Their job is to plan the costs of a building project, and in many cases, ensure those costs are met throughout the project duration. To do this, the building estimator will first assess and review plans, visit potential construction sites, liaise with subcontractors, and finally, give an estimate.

The job of a building estimator doesn’t always end there. When budgets are finalised managers may change the plans for a project, leaving a building estimator to start the process all over again.

Building estimators work on a range of construction sites, from residential to commercial, government projects, and everything in between. It is a mix of working independently, to working with many stakeholders and managers.

Skills required to be a building estimator

There are many skills you need to be a great building estimator. Some of these may be skills you already possess through your experience in the building industry, and some may be skills you can learn through formal education.

The skills required for a successful career as a building estimator are:

  • Budget management
  • Building and construction knowledge
  • Mathematical literacy
  • Understanding of WH&S and the ability to uphold them
  • Strong communication and leadership skills
  • Knowledge of specific building regulations
  • Time management and ability to work under pressure

How to become a building estimator

The building estimator pathway is perfect for you if you enjoy working in a construction job and working with people, budgets, and making plans happen. Along with your construction experience, the next step to becoming a building estimator is to complete your formal qualification.

CAL’s Certificate IV in Building Project Support (Estimator) (CPC40320) will afford you the skills you need to excel in a career as a building estimator. The convenience of flexible, online learning is that it allows you the chance to still work on-site and gain experience as you work at your own pace to secure this qualification.

Upon completion of this estimating course, you will have the necessary skills to be a great building estimator, with an average salary of $90,000. According to Seek, the building estimator position is expected to have job growth of 8.6% over the next five years. This makes it a relatively safe career choice for long-term success.

Career pathways in the construction industry

The construction industry is a strong industry, constantly growing and withstanding economic stresses. The National Industry Insights Australia states that the industry generates over $360 billion in revenue, accounting for 9% of our Gross Domestic Product. This makes it a strong career choice for those looking for long-term options.

There are also plenty of chances for growth in the building and construction industry, with many pathways available. While you might be working in an entry-level construction job right now, after completing your certificate, you will be qualified to handle either contract administration or estimator responsibilities. From here, there are also managerial positions within building and construction that can allow you to grow even further.

Both contract administrators and building estimators are highly sought-after and respected positions in the construction industry. Whichever you feel meets your needs and skills, you can be confident that the construction industry is full of possibilities.

You can find out more about both the Certificate IV in Building Project Support (Contract Administrator) (CPC40320) and Certificate IV in Building Project Support (Estimator) (CPC40320) courses or learn more about the current construction qualifications available to you at the College of Adult Learning.