What Does it Take to Become an Estimator Project Manager?

July 14, 2022
estimator project manager on the job

In order to complete any major construction project, you will need to make sure that you have the right estimates ready. Between both time and cost estimates, being able to properly gauge the scope of a project requires a specialization in and of itself.

The preconstruction process—combined with accurately pricing material and labor—requires a person whose role is known as an estimator project manager. Other titles may include construction estimator, project estimator, or preconstruction manager. This role is competitively paid and works primarily in the office.

According to Zippia, the demand for estimator project managers is going to grow by 9 percent from 2018 to 2028. It’s clear that estimator project managers are in demand, but what do you need to do to become one?

How Much is a Typical Construction Estimator Salary?

If nothing else, a construction estimator salary is incentive enough to consider a career change. The average salary for an estimator project manager is approximately $83,963 per year. This puts it in the top 25th percentile of earners on a nationwide scale.

When paid by the hour, a typical construction estimator will earn at least $40 per hour. How much they get will vary depending on experience and the area where they live.

What Does an Estimator Project Manager Do?

Estimator project managers are the professionals construction teams rely on when it comes to quotes for medium- to large-scale work. This means that a standard workday of an estimator project manager would include:

  • Examining the proposed project and the related design. Certain architectural styles are more time-consuming than others. As a result, managers will often review both proposals and blueprints to get a better idea of what the job entails.
  • Collecting information about specific portions of the project. This can include information as far as reviewing land surveys, determining skilled work rates, and also determining how many people will be required for a specific project.
  • Researching project material costs. This requires up-to-date price lists of materials, which can prove to be difficult to obtain by traditional means, but can be accessed with new software technology.
  • Optimizing the cost of a project. The goal of every project manager is to figure out the most cost-effective way to complete the project. From constructing a brand new hospital wing to an apartment high-rise, or a manufacturing facility. Or maybe your team is tasked with estimating the Dunder-Mifflin floorplan.
  • Presenting cost reports and analyses to clients. The reports can offer suggestions that reduce costs, but in most cases, will include itemized lists showing the cost of each portion of the project with its costs.

How Do You Become an Estimator Project Manager?

There are several different paths that one can take to become an estimator project manager, though almost all will require some degree of on-the-job training. In most cases, a person will need to have some work experience on construction sites as an estimator or project manager.

Having experience with estimating projects, researching project requirements, and understanding a team’s typical work schedule will help create accurate estimates. While having a degree can help, this type of knowledge is often best obtained on the job.

Is a College Degree Necessary?

The most important thing to recognize about estimators is that approximately 60 percent of people who fit this role have a bachelor’s degree, which means that a degree is a smart choice to make—though it is far from mandatory.

If you do not have much construction estimating experience, a college degree (especially one in civil engineering or construction management) can help prove that you have the necessary skills to do the job.

What Skills Do You Need to Have?

Like most other managers, estimator project managers have to be excellent at both verbal and written communication. After all, you may need to negotiate with your suppliers and subs regarding the prices of labor, as well as work with different teams.

Math skills are also an important part of the job, since estimates always require formulas, statistics, and other similar skills. In many cases, college students who want to become estimators will take higher math courses, as well as business and technology classes, to learn the skills necessary for the job at hand.

Do You Need Specific Tools to be a Successful Estimator Project Manager?

The biggest issues that estimator project managers face all focus on accuracy—particularly in terms of material costs. Unlike labor pricing, which remains fairly steady, materials regularly fluctuate in cost. Some raw products, such as oil, glass, and lumber, have seen massive fluctuations in recent years.

Predicting the price of materials and tools can be exceedingly difficult if you do not have software to help track the real-time costs in your region. Tools—like 1build—will offer location-based, regularly-updated materials pricing and add-ons that can help you tailor costs to each particular project you have.

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Learn More About Estimator Project Managers Today

Estimation accuracy is not something all construction crews prioritize, but it should be. There is plenty to learn about how to get better estimates, how to hire the right help, and estimating advice for beginners.

Accuracy is what estimators are focused on providing, and it’s not easy to deliver. Construction cost estimating is a science that is constantly receiving updates on both prices and methodology. The best way to improve estimations for your company is to level-up your estimation tools. Watch a demo of 1build today to see how real-time, local cost data is built right into estimates.

1build provides an easy-to-use integration with construction supplier catalogs and purchasing systems. Get access to millions of construction materials with our API today