The Challenge of Hiring Estimators in the Construction Industry: Tips for Finding and Retaining Talent

The construction industry is booming, but one critical role remains notoriously difficult to fill: the Estimator. Estimators are the backbone of any construction project, responsible for assessing costs, resources, and timelines, making them indispensable for ensuring project feasibility and profitability. However, finding and retaining talented estimators is a challenge many construction firms face. Let’s explore why this is the case and how you can attract and keep the best talent in this crucial role. 


The following article provides insights into:

  • Why hiring Estimators is so challenging, 
  • Different strategies for finding great estimators, 
  • What you can do to retain talented estimators, 
  • And ways to look at career paths for estimators so they stay with you for the long haul. 


“They have their minds in the weeds of details, which is exactly where I need their focus. A successful estimator is one that finds and brings as much detail to their estimate as humanly possible as a ‘job well done’.”  ~ Adam BeBard, President of Global Modular, Inc


Why Hiring Estimators is So Difficult


High Demand, Low Supply: 

The construction industry’s growth has outpaced the availability of skilled estimators. As projects become more complex, the need for accurate and detailed estimates increases, but the pool of qualified candidates hasn’t kept up.

Technical Expertise Required: 

Estimators need a unique blend of skills, including deep knowledge of construction processes, materials, and costs, as well as proficiency in specialized software. This combination of technical expertise and practical experience is rare.

Experience Over Education: 

While formal education in construction management or engineering is beneficial, on-the-job experience is often more valuable. This means that seasoned estimators are in high demand, and those with years of experience are hard to lure away from their current positions.

Stressful Job: 

The estimator’s role is high-pressure, as it involves significant responsibility for a project’s financial success. The stress of ensuring accuracy under tight deadlines can deter potential candidates.


Strategies for Finding Talented Estimators


Leverage Professional Networks: 

Tap into professional organizations and industry groups where experienced estimators may be members. Networking events and industry conferences can be fertile ground for finding talent.

Offer Competitive Compensation: 

Given the high demand for estimators, offering a competitive salary and benefits package is crucial. Consider performance bonuses tied to project success to attract high achievers.

Highlight Career Growth Opportunities: 

Show potential hires a clear career path within your organization. Estimators who see opportunities for advancement are more likely to join and stay with your company.

Utilize Recruitment Agencies: 

Specialized recruitment agencies like ParkerBeth, that focus on the construction industry can be invaluable in finding qualified estimators. They have the resources and expertise to identify and attract top talent.


Retaining Talented Estimators


Provide Ongoing Training: 

Invest in continuous education and training opportunities. This not only helps estimators keep up with industry changes but also shows them that you are invested in their professional growth.

Foster a Positive Work Environment: 

A supportive and collaborative work culture can significantly impact job satisfaction. Encourage teamwork, recognize achievements, and create a positive atmosphere.

Implement Work-Life Balance Initiatives: 

Given the stressful nature of the job, initiatives that promote work-life balance can help retain estimators. Flexible working hours, remote work options, and wellness programs can make a significant difference.

Career Path Design: 

Map out a clear and achievable career path for estimators. Start with entry-level positions such as Junior Estimator, and provide opportunities for progression to roles like Senior Estimator, Estimating Manager, and ultimately, Director of Estimating or Chief Estimator. Highlighting this trajectory during the hiring process can attract ambitious candidates.


The Career Path of a Successful Estimator

A well-defined career path can be a significant draw for prospective estimators. Here’s what a typical career journey might look like:

  1. Junior Estimator: Entry-level position focused on learning the ropes, assisting with basic estimates, and supporting senior team members.
  2. Estimator: With a few years of experience, taking on more complex projects, leading estimating efforts, and starting to specialize in certain types of construction.
  3. Senior Estimator: Leading large-scale projects, mentoring junior estimators, and taking on more strategic responsibilities within the company.
  4. Estimating Manager: Overseeing a team of estimators, managing multiple projects, and working closely with other departments to align estimating practices with overall company goals.
  5. Director of Estimating/Chief Estimator: Executive-level role responsible for the entire estimating department, setting company-wide estimating standards, and playing a key role in strategic planning and business development.


By clearly defining and communicating this career path, you can not only attract top talent but also keep them engaged and motivated for the long term.


The difficulty in hiring estimators in the construction industry stems from a combination of high demand, required technical expertise, and the stressful nature of the job. However, by leveraging professional networks, offering competitive compensation, providing continuous training, fostering a positive work environment, and designing clear career paths, construction firms can successfully attract and retain talented estimators. Investing in your estimators not only ensures project success but also builds a strong foundation for your company’s future growth.


If you would like to discuss how ParkerBeth, an expert in Construction Recruitment, can help you find your next Estimator, click here to schedule some time to chat with Jen Viley, ParkerBeth’s CEO and Estimator Whisperer.