How To Become A Building Estimator


how to become a building estimator

A building estimator provide estimates and costs for construction projects. They are responsible for planning and proposing the budget of plans and projects on building worksites and work closely with managers and contractors to manage quotes and estimates.

If you are already familiar with construction, you probably have heard about or worked with building estimators before. In this article, you can find out if becoming a building estimator is the right career path for you.

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 find out the cost of a building project, and in some cases, then make sure those costs are met and projects stay on target. To do this, the building estimator first assesses and reviews plans, ensuring they meet financial and legal requirements, potentially visiting the construction site, liaising with subcontractors, then finally, giving 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 them to have to start the process all over again.

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

Although they can be responsible for a myriad of things, a typical day for a building estimator can look like this:

  • Gathering proposals, plans, and blueprints to scope a range of estimate ideas
  • Visit worksites to inspect and gather an understanding of costs
  • Compile documents to prepare and calculate a proposal for a client

They may also work on a few different projects at once, especially if they’re working in a government position. They can also be contracted or ‘hired out’ – it simply depends on what position suits you best. This offers a level of flexibility to the role.

Following this, there can also be travel in the day-to-day work. Whether this is visiting construction sites for estimation purposes, visiting subcontractors to get accurate quotes, or meeting with clients to look over budgets.

Skills required for a building estimator

As outlined, a building and construction estimator has a lot of key responsibilities, and a precise set of skills to go along with them. Some of these are acquired with hands-on learning and experience, and other skills can be learned through a formal qualification.

Building and construction knowledge is the first vital skill of a successful building estimator. You’ll need to be able to interpret plans and prepare preliminary sketches, understand legal codes of practice, and WH&S requirements.

A good deal of mathematical literacy is important, as are strong budgeting skills. Some technical skills are also necessary, as you will be using computers and software to complete your job. Whether this is construction software or financial software, there are lots of different platforms managers can expect building estimators to use.

When estimating within budget, you will often have problems that arise and deadlines that need to be met, so problem-solving and time-management skills are important soft skills. Having to work with people a lot will also require communication and leadership skills.

How to become a building estimator

A building estimator course is the first step in securing a position in this role. Most building estimators already have a job in the construction field and are ready to level up their careers as they move into a new and exciting position.

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 units within this qualification will teach you how to develop project plans, calculate project, material, and labour costs, and monitor them accordingly.

This estimating course is online and self-paced, giving an added advantage to those currently working. 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.

You also need on-the-job experience to become a building estimator, as you need to have an understanding of how construction sites work, and what legal requirements and codes of practice are necessary.

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Building estimator salary

With the skills and responsibilities that come with this position also comes a competitive pay rate. Upon completion of the Certificate IV in Building Project Support (Estimator) (CPC40320), you will have the necessary skills to be a great building estimator, with an average salary of $80,000.

With an estimated 11.9% job growth over the next five years*, there is a certain layer of job security in this role, too. Jobs will continue to become available in this field, so becoming qualified now will set you up for success for years to come.


Career pathways in the construction industry

The construction industry is a strong industry constantly growing and withstanding economic concerns. In Australia, it generates over $360 billion in revenue, accounting for 9% of our Gross Domestic Product*. It makes it a strong career choice for those looking at the long term.


Building estimators are a respected role that will see you through many years in the construction industry. A building estimation job is perfect for those wanting to stay in construction but get off the tools. If you like working with plans and numbers, this might be the right career path for you.

If you’re ready to start your career as a building estimator, the Certificate IV in Building Project Support (Estimator) (CPC40320) is your first step to further your career in construction. Enquire now to find out more.