Everyone knows why estimators can hate their jobs. You’ve probably even complained about a few of these yourself—long hours, endless spreadsheets, a ton of number-crunching. Maybe at the beginning it was exciting and challenging, but now it feels tedious and repetitive. So what was it that initially drew you to estimating? What are the things you do enjoy about your job?
We can’t answer that for you, but we can give you some suggestions. In order to truly reignite your passion for work, you’ve got to go back to the basics and focus on the things you do love about your job. That doesn’t mean you should ignore what you don’t like, but by focusing on what you do enjoy, you can start to figure out more ways to maximize time spent on the best parts of your job as an estimator. We could easily write a novel about all the things to love about being an estimator, but for now, we’ll stick to four reasons.
- Exploring new tools and technologies
- Data visualization and storytelling
- Working with all kinds of people
- Complex problem-solving
Exploring New Tools and Technologies
Finally, estimators are in the unique position of being some of the first to get their hands on brand new technology. At many companies, some estimators may even end up tasked with seeking out ways that their preconstruction team can continue to innovate—whether that’s booking software demos or attending industry expos and conferences.
Some estimators find themselves becoming what we call “product champions.” In other words, they find a new solution—like our flagship estimating software DESTINI Estimator, for example—and become so knowledgeable and passionate about it that they’re able to get the rest of their team on board. They’re likely to be the ones involved in rolling out the software and hosting training sessions.
Data Visualization and Storytelling
One of the most exciting things about being an estimator? The ability to bring numbers to life through the power of data visualization. Using models generated by Microsoft’s PowerBI program, estimators can bring context and life to otherwise lifeless numbers. And, outside of data visualization, it’s up to an estimator to discover patterns, understand why they’re happening, and seek to replicate them in order to get the most accurate estimate possible.
Unlike Excel, PowerBI models allow you to provide a much more dynamic look at your estimates. Instead of showing owners rows and rows of spreadsheets, you can instead show them in real time what happens to their numbers when factors like labor, material, or region are adjusted. Most importantly, working with PowerBI models also makes it easier to defend your numbers to the owner.
Working With all Kinds of People
Estimators don’t work in isolation—in fact, they touch almost every department within a general contractor. Outside of their own company, estimators will also have to have frequent meetings with project owners, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and subcontractors. As they continue growing in their career, they’ll also likely interface with city chambers of commerce, university recruiters, and local chapters of industry organizations like ASPE.
Touching so many different departments also means that estimators have a lot more chances to explore other passions. Melissa Love, Project Controls Manager at Sundt Construction, shared in a recent interview that she originally wanted to be an architect and has always had a major interest in design. While she ultimately chose not go down that route, her journey through preconstruction has still allowed her to indulge in her love of design.
What elevates estimating from “just” crunching numbers to a job that offers purpose is the intense problem-solving skills it takes to be a great estimator. Every day, there’s a new question to be answered, a new challenge to be conquered. Data analysis requires a sharp eye and a creative mind, and meetings with project owners require estimators to be quick on their feet. Then there’s formulas to test and develop, as well as estimate templates to create. Numbers are only boring if you let them be!
What Do You Love Most About Your Job?
We hope taking a look at some of the best parts of being estimator inspires you to reignite your passions. And in the meantime, drop us a comment below and tell us what your favorite part about estimating is.