How to become and Electrical Estimator

In Electrical Contracting Articles, Electrical Estimating Articles, ramblings by David Parden

Have you ever considered becoming an electrical estimator? You may wonder how do I even start? I am asked that question frequently. The answer may not be as difficult as you think and here is how.

You will need to have some theory behind you. Hopefully you have gone through some formal training as an electrician apprentice. A two-year vocational school should expose you to all the theory you need or if you have ever studied for, taken, and passed a journeyman electrician’s exam you will definitely have it. In addition to theory you also need to know your way around the National Electrical Code and you will be expected to be able to interpret bid documents such as plans and specifications. “Means Electrical Estimating” is a great book for getting some practical estimating theory.

You will have to be computer savvy with a working knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel. You must also be able to send / receive emails with attachments, understand how to manipulate zip files, and manage files on the hard drive.

Do not be concerned that you do not understand how to use an estimating program for a entry level position because there are so many different estimating programs out there that chances are even if you were a seasoned estimator you would not know how to use the software your potential employer uses. They will train you to use their software.

In my opinion the greatest asset an estimator can possess is the ability to see the work in his or her head. If you have field experience even if it’s only for a very short time you likely possess this skill. You also need to have descent math skills and the ability to think on your own / reason out problems.

One thing that many field hands do not anticipate when making the transition to the office is how stressful it can be. You will always be working against a deadline and it is not negotiable! You will most likely have an 80% failure rate and you can expect to work at least 50 hours a week and many weekends. When you are successful at winning a job one of your first thoughts may be “what did I miss in order to get the job”?

The good news is that the job is gratifying if you have the right frame of mind. You get to work in a climate-controlled environment. You will have the satisfaction of knowing you played a part in the company’s success and that you have helped your co-workers hang onto their job. You can also do this job much longer than you can working as a field hand. My absolute favorite part of the job is closing the deal. How many people do you know that have ever negotiated a million dollar deal or even a one hundred thousand dollar deal besides maybe their mortgage?

Once you are comfortable that you possess the skills mentioned above put together a resume and place it on a job search website such as Monster. It will not take long before a head-hunter employment agency finds you and they will actively help you search for a job. This service will not cost you anything! You can also search Craigslist in the major cities for openings.

You can do this if you really want to and the jobs are there to be had! I have companies calling me regularly inquiring if I know of someone that can estimate. If you have drive and are willing to relocate you will find work and it will not take months. After you have landed that first job but before you actually start it would be a great time to contact us here at DBP Electrical Consulting LLC to take one of our two-day training seminars to help you be better prepared for your new career. Good Luck!