What’s next for your career when you’ve been working as an electrical estimator for a while?

For some, becoming an electrical estimator is the ultimate role. Maybe they move from estimator to senior estimator, taking on more responsibilities and earning more money. Most of us here at Countfire have an electrical estimating background and we love the role!

But, for others in the industry, there comes a point in their career where they look for another way to progress. Where can you go from estimating? We’ve looked into it. Here are your
potential options:’

What sort of professional development might you pursue? Download here

Professional development

Training and professional development can and should continue once
you’ve landed in your electrical estimator role. The estimator role itself doesn’t generally require formal qualifications; as we’ve found through interviewing many people in the role, in the UK, most tend to have come from an electrician role. Formal qualifications can help in terms of moving to a higher pay grade in some companies, or to branch out with additional skills.

Some examples of how electrical estimators are advancing their professional development here in the UK include:

  • Certificate and Diploma in Site Management Level 4
  • NVQ in Project Control Levels 3 and 4 
  • NVQ in Construction Contracting Operations Levels 3 and 4.

There are also various types of cards under the Construction Skills Certification Scheme that electrical estimators may qualify under. These aren’t required by law, however many companies set their own rules that require people on their job sites to hold them. It’s certainly worth looking into them if you don’t hold one already, as they can provide a foot in the door with some companies.

Another thing that any electrical estimator with three or more years of experience should look at is professional association memberships. In the UK, we have The Association of Cost Engineers, which includes roles such as risk managers and contract engineers, as well as estimators from all fields of the construction industry.

Professional memberships are good to have because they immediately indicate a certain level of experience and required knowledge. They also usually have opportunities for broadening your network and giving you access to resources that can broaden your knowledge.

Some estimators also opt to complete some post-graduate level study. For example, they might complete a Master’s degree in a field such as Construction Project and Cost Management, Construction Management or Quantity Surveying.

Electrical estimator
Electrical estimators should consider the benefits of a professional membership Click To Tweet

Other job roles

There are a number of job roles that might be a natural progression for electrical estimators, depending on what their interests and career goals are. You might choose something adjacent to electrical estimating: Countfire founder Will worked as an electrical estimator before partnering to create our takeoff software.

Here are some other job roles that electrical estimators might move into:

Project team leader

A project team leader has overall responsibility for ensuring that a construction or electrical project gets completed on-time and within budget.  This can include a range of tasks, depending on the employer. For example, some project team leaders will take a more hands-on role, where they help on the tools too, while others take a more supervisory role.

Project team leaders may get into the role by having some kind of relevant experience (such as electrical estimator work), by working their way through an apprenticeship and other roles first, or by undertaking qualifications. Such qualifications usually include specific, construction-related undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.

The project team leader must be an excellent communicator, organiser and motivator. They organise rosters, delegate work and monitor deadlines. They might be involved in checking and signing off work as well as pitching in where they are needed. The project team leader may or may not have client contact, depending on the size of the company. A larger company will usually have team leaders in the field who liaise with other client-facing management roles.

The team leader should also monitor the performance of team members and ensure they are following correct policies and procedures. A big part of the role can also be anticipating needs – the team leader knows where the project is at in terms of the expected timeline and can ensure that the correct equipment, materials or personnel are available for the next step.

The salary range depends on your level of experience and responsibility. A very new project team leader has an average salary range of £19,000 to £25,000, while a senior project team leader averages £35,000 to £40,000. This may not be very different from an electrical estimator salary, however it may be a move to broaden career experience and lead toward more senior management roles.

Quality assurance manager

There are a huge number of standards to meet and maintain in the construction world and doing so is a key goal of the quality assurance manager role. This goes for all of the company’s services and activities – it’s up to the QS manager to carry out inspections and record detailed evidence that will show those standards are being met.

Depending on the company, you may require some qualifications to get the quality assurance manager role. Related courses include those that directly deal with construction or engineering quality assurance, or adjacent qualifications such as business administration or product management.

In some areas, apprenticeships exist that cover the quality assurance job role. You might also come into the role due to related experience, such as working in an electrical estimator role. This gives you exposure to the construction site and the requirements of projects.

The key skills required of quality assurance managers include strong analytical skills, mathematical aptitude and knowledge of quality requirements. There will be some client contact, mainly to help determine exactly what their needs are. This means a quality assurance manager should have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, too. Report and technical writing are also key parts of the job, so clear written communication is a must.

In terms of salary, it really depends on the employer and location. Salaries are approximately on-par with what electrical estimators can expect at the various levels of skill and experience. Newly trained quality assurance managers have an average salary range of £25,000 to £30,000. An experience manager can expect something in the range of £45,000 to £60,000.

Contracts manager

The purpose of the contracts manager role is to identify appropriate projects for the company, secure the contract and project, and often, manage the project as well. As a main point of contact for clients, contracts managers must have excellent interpersonal skills, including communication and negotiation skills.

The job involves assessing and improving the contract process, as well as dealing with any contractual issues that may arise during the project. This also means heavy involvement with the crews doing the work, often going between the job site and an office. 

Other skills include managing the budget and being able to make agreements with clients if anything needs to change budget-wise. The contracts manager also plays a role in agreeing to the timeline with clients and will usually be involved in conversations with the client if anything is going to affect the timeline for delivery.

Developing project proposals is a major responsibility of the contracts manager and really is a skill strongly associated with the estimating role. In both cases, the job holder needs to have a strong background knowledge of how the project operates and the skills and materials involved. 

In terms of salary, the contracts manager role might be seen as more of a sideways move, depending on where you already sit on the pay scale. Newly-trained contracts managers tend to earn a salary range of £25,000 to £35,000, while senior, chartered or master contracts managers have an average salary range of £45,000 to £70,000.

Electrical estimator
Download potential professional development options here

Final thoughts

If you’re exploring what your next moves might be as an electrical estimator, this has provided a few common options.

Another we could add here is that many estimators stay in estimating as a profession. Some companies specialise in estimates as their sole service, for example Southdowns Estimating Consultants, a client of ours.

For anyone wanting to grow their estimating career, working on gaining more experience on estimating different projects is a good idea. Accuracy and precision while turning out timely work are skills that are only enhanced with time.