Contract Administrator vs Building Estimator Career Guide


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

Contract administrators and building estimators are important in any construction work site. While both are in demand, they play different roles in managing and overseeing 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 discover which construction pathway is right for you.

What is a contract administrator?

A contract administrator manages and handles contracts within a construction site. They understand contracts, 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 obligations within the contract are met
  • 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 to each site to negotiate, oversee sites to ensure they meet contract obligations and work with a team until project completion.

What skills do I need for contract administration?

To be a contract administrator, you need various interpersonal, professional, and hands-on skills. Some of these will come from your experience, but 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 do I become a contract administrator?

Contract administration might be the right path for you if you’re working in construction and ready to progress in your career.

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 develop your hands-on skills and gain your formal qualification at your own pace.

Upon completing this course, you’ll have the necessary skills to work as a contract administrator with an average salary of $124,000. This role also has an expected job growth of 9.3% in the next five years, making it adverse to job uncertainty and offering plenty of opportunities for the long term.

What is a building estimator?

A building estimator estimates 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:

  • Assess and review plans
  • Visit potential construction sites
  • Liaise with subcontractors
  • Give an estimate

The job of a building estimator doesn’t always end there. When budgets are finalised, construction 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 and commercial to government projects. It is a mix of working independently and with many stakeholders and managers.

What skills do I need for building estimation?

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 work health and safety and the ability to uphold them
  • Strong communication and leadership skills
  • Knowledge of specific building regulations
  • Time management and ability to work under pressure

Your Career in Construction Management

Do you want to learn more about construction management skills employers demand, emerging job roles and salaries, and recent industry insights? 

Discover your career in construction management. 



How do I become a building estimator?

The building estimator pathway is perfect if you enjoy working in a construction job with people and budgets and enjoy 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 work on-site and gain experience as you work at your own pace to secure this qualification.

Upon completing this estimating course, you will have the necessary skills to be a great building estimator with an average salary of $85,000 and an expected job growth of 11.9% 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 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 GDP. 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. 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.


Discover your career in building and construction

Explore courses designed to help you take your career to the next level!

If you’re ready to expand your career, building estimator and contract administrator courses can help make that happen.

View courses