Estimator

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Jason Lewis is a quantity surveyor working in Birmingham for a private quantity surveying practice. He is responsible for working out the quantities of materials used in large-scale building projects and monitoring the costs.

How would you describe your work?

At present, I am managing the establishment of a restaurant chain for a large company. I am the first link in the chain between the client and the other organisations involved in completing the project. In addition, I prepare budget costs and regular reports to help us monitor how the money is spent.

My main objective is to make sure that the project is completed on budget and within the deadline, or if costs rise, to give advice to allow alternative measures to be considered.

How do you use maths?

I deal with figures all the time so I do need to have a basic knowledge of maths. For instance, I need to be able to calculate areas and volumes and do basic geometry in order to calculate the amount of material we need. Occasionally, I use algebra.

Do you need to use any special equipment for this?

I use various pieces of computer software to generate information, in particular, spreadsheets, which I use every day. Also, I need to be able to use a scale rule and a scientific calculator.

What personal qualities and skills do you need to be an estimator?

Being a team player is the key personal quality. I need interpersonal skills because I need to talk to clients, consultants and other team members on a daily basis.

What is the best thing about your work?

I like the satisfaction that comes from solving a problem. This job can be quite complicated at times because you are trying to keep things running smoothly and on time. It is nice being in the position to help identify and sort out any potential financial problems on behalf of clients.

What are your challenges?

To deliver better value for the client, to be seen as playing a positive role in getting a project completed with the minimum amount of fuss and difficulty, and to manage people at all levels, including more experienced individuals.

Jason's route to becoming an estimator

  • Went to school and college in Malaysia and gained a Certificate in Building Science.
  • Worked for building contractor in Malaysia for more than three years.
  • Moved to the UK to do a quantity surveying degree.
  • After graduating, trained with two quantity surveying firms and recently gained chartered status with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Jason's tips

  • Talk to someone within the career sector your are interested in before committing yourself.
  • Try to work in the industry part time or during your holidays to get some first hand experience.

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Salary of an Estimator

  • Graduate first salaries vary from about £15,000 to £22,000.
  • Senior quantity surveyors can earn between £31,000 and £37,000.
  • Top salaries can exceed £60,000.

Getting in

  • You can train for professional qualifications in quantity surveying either by fulltime study, followed by experience and assessment, or by combining employment with part-time study.
  • You can obtain a general business degree and learn the surveying aspect of the work on-the-job or work towards a surveying qualification and then obtain the business experience.
  • A Modern Apprenticeship with a construction company studying for NVQ/SVQs, or entering the industry as a graduate trainee, are other possible entry routes.
  • The work is very maths and accounting related so qualifications in that area would also form the basis for entry.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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