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Also known as -

Cost planner

Estimators calculate how much construction projects will cost, taking into account labour, material and equipment requirements. They will negotiate with suppliers and gain quotes from subcontractors and use this information to compile detailed cost proposals for a client.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become an estimator

While there are no formal qualifications needed to become an estimator, there are several routes you could take to help you pursue this career. You could complete a university or college course, an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work.

You should explore these routes to becoming an estimator, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


You could complete a Higher National Diploma (HND) or an undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as structural or civil engineering, construction or quantity surveying.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.

College/training provider

In order to become an estimator, you do not need to have any specific qualifications. However, having GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (or the equivalent) in science, technology, IT, English and maths are useful for the role.

Having college qualifications in subjects such as structural engineering, civil engineering or construction can also be beneficial for anyone looking for a job as an estimator.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


An apprenticeship with a construction company is a good way into the industry.

You could apply for an estimating apprenticeship with a building firm and work towards an NVQ in Project Control Levels 3 and 4, NVQ in Construction Contracting Operations Levels 3 and 4, or a Certificate and Diploma in Site Management Level 4.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


If you have previous experience of working in the construction industry, you may be able to apply directly to an employer to become an estimator, or your employer may help you to complete training to work towards this role.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as an estimator. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Core skills for an estimator include:

  • Strong maths skills
  • Highly organised
  • Ability to analyse data
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Good communication skills
  • Technical abilities
  • Excellent time management.


To become an estimator, you could complete a:

  • Level 3 NVQ in Construction Contracting Operations – Estimating
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship in Construction Contracting Operations which includes Estimate

To become an estimator, you could complete a:

  • SCQF Level 6 in Construction Contracting Operations - Estimating (QCF)
  • Scottish Technical Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 9 Construction Contracting Operations Management: Estimating

To become an estimator, you will need:

  • GCSE A*-C

You could complete a:

  • Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Construction Contracting Operations – Estimating
  • Level 3 Apprenticeship in Construction Contracting Operations which includes Estimate

What does an estimator do?

An estimator is responsible for calculating the costs of a project before work commences, covering everything from materials, labour, equipment hire, transport costs and everything in between.

The duties of an estimator may include:

  • Calculating how much a proposed project will cost
  • Researching prices and collecting quotes from suppliers and subcontractors
  • Monitoring inflation and exchange rates
  • Checking the client’s requirements
  • Drawing up bids for work
  • Keeping an eye on projects to make sure costs stay in line with forecasts
  • Drawing up detailed and accurate price lists for everything needed on a construction project
  • Considering risk assessments and health and safety requirements

How much could you earn as an estimator?

The salary for an estimator varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained estimators can earn £18,000 - £20,000
  • Trained and experienced estimators can earn £20,000 - £35,000
  • Senior, chartered or master estimators can earn £35,000 - £40,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options also improve with chartered status.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


 Check out the latest  estimator vacancies:

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As an estimator, you could continue training and become a quantity surveyor.

You could also progress into a more senior role as a contracts manager or construction manager.

Alternatively, you could set yourself up as a self-employed project consultant

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Estimator Work involves calculating the cost of supplying products or services for clients...
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  • Current role Quantity surveyor Calculate & manage the finances for building & maintaining projects throughout t...
    Read more
  • Current role Contracts manager During a construction project, the contracts manager overseas the contracts proc...
    Read more
  • Current role Construction manager Construction managers are required to handle the practical side of managing & pl...
    Read more
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