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Career change to estimating3/7
I have been a woodworker for 25 years and would love to modify my career switching to estimating. I've had my own shop design/building custom furniture, millwork, cabinets for residential clients. I have essentially no experience in commercial work. I have been reading used text books and studying on the web for a few months learning all I can, and have experience over the years of working up Excel sheets for my needs. Although all my jobs are more or less one of a kind and typically challenging technically (a few pics attached show this). Can you give suggestions in how I might proceed with this goal?
For large commercial companies, the estimator is nearly the most critical staff member they have. Hopefully you are in a position to accept a starting position with an appropriate wage based on experience. You may have to start in a CAD position to get to the estimator path. My suggestion would be to set a meeting with HR in a big company and discover their requirements for the position you desire. You could also contact the Architectural Woodwork Institute and ask for guidance there.
In my experience (AWI), commercial estimators become Project Managers and are the whipping boys of the business. If they do well, they are whipped to keep it up. If they do poorly on a job, they are whipped as punishment. Could just be my experience, but estimating alone is better than being a project manager. Better shops avoid the whip, though.
No so sure I'd want to be an estimator. I'll assume that job would also be the person putting together the bid package. No longer an estimate but a fixed price. Seems like you would need to be very familiar with the methods, machines, etc. to get a good $#, or if all those #s have been put into the bid program then you are just counting door knobs.
You might want to check in with shops using Keytrix, Alan used to cite some amazingly accurate predictions/estimates
Strikes me that a bid program is only as good as the #s that have been put in, that relate to that specific business's costs.
AWI does estimating seminars, check with them its good basic training for labor and materials based estimating.
Unit based pricing should be developed from labor and materials IMO.
Unit based pricing doesn't always scale well.
Some Key skills for a commercial estimator.
Then you need to be able to identify and cost the scope.