How Essential Skills Profiles can help you!
The essential skills profiles can:
- Help determine, based on skill sets, which career may best suit a particular individual.
- Assist job seekers to write a résumé or prepare for a job interview.
- Help employers to create a job posting.
Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Construction estimators analyze costs of and prepare estimates on civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical construction projects. They are employed by residential, commercial and industrial construction companies and major electrical, mechanical and trade contractors, or they may be self-employed.
- Read warnings, precautions and instructions on construction signs placed on buildings and equipment. (1)
- Read short messages from clients, colleagues, co-workers, and supervisors. For example, they read clients' and supervisors' notes on quotes and drawings. They read e-mail such as co-workers' updates on projects and responses to queries. (2)
- Read safety precautions and hazard warnings on Workplace Hazardous Material Information System labels and on Material Safety Data Sheets. They need this information to ensure that they are using the correct protective equipment during site visits. (2)
- Read short reports. For example, they read general contractors' monthly project reports to stay current on projects, review activities and to determine if follow-up action is required. (2)
- Read descriptions and explanations on construction drawings, specification lists and architectural design reports to understand the scope and financing of construction projects. They also note special procedures, materials and challenges that may affect project costs. They must understand industry and legal terminology to accurately interpret the information. (3)
- Read contractors' quotes and proposals . They review the quotes to determine what work and materials are included and excluded. On large projects, they need to read and integrate information from many quotes to ensure that the work and materials are listed without duplication. (3)
- Refer to government legislation, regulations and subsequent bulletins. For example, they read and interpret code standards for the installation of electrical wiring. They must be able to argue knowledgeably when they feel that materials do not meet code. Failing to correctly interpret codes can cost their companies time and money. (3)
- Review trade publications to stay current on new products, estimating techniques, trends in their industry and the construction industry as a whole. For example, they read articles about new products and cost analysis research in trade magazines. They use their specialized expertise to evaluate the information for relevance and may incorporate the information into estimating or costing procedures. (4)
- Get specific pricing information from pricing tables, lists or databases. (1)
- Scan photographs and sketches of buildings and equipment to evaluate damage to estimate repair costs. (2)
- Scan tables in codebooks and manuals to locate specifications such as pipe or wire size. (2)
- Review and verify information from a variety of forms such as purchase orders and service requests. They review the forms to determine if additional details or follow-up actions are required, verify accuracy, and ensure overall consistency. (2)
- Complete estimating and administrative forms. For example, they enter values, prices, quantities, dimensions and brief descriptions and explanations onto job quotes, building permits and insurance forms. They summarize information from other documents such as site drawings, specification sheets, costing and rate tables and project schedules and tracking forms to complete these forms. (3)
- Complete tracking and quality control forms. For example, they enter scheduling, budget and operational data onto tracking forms. They summarize information from the tables, lists and textboxes of the document, as well as other forms such as financial and work progress reports to complete their entries. They provide dates, times, locations and work details for daily and weekly schedules, and to date work summaries and associated costs for ongoing project status. (3)
- Review construction drawings such as engineering and architectural drawings to determine physical dimensions, material specifications and equipment requirements when costing project proposals. The drawings are often complex with multiple sections and detailed information on the specific material and methods of construction. (4)
- Write notes and short memos to remind themselves, co-workers, supervisors or clients about tasks, confirm requests and to respond to questions. For example, they write brief notes and comments on specification sheets and drawings to indicate changes, record questions or highlight specific points for bid analyses. (1)
- Write short memos and e-mail to co-workers, supervisors, contractors and clients. For example, they write estimation instructions to junior estimators. They give advice and share technical information with colleagues, clients and co-workers. They request approval on discounted quotes from supervisors. They write e-mail to clients to request changes to project timelines. (2)
- Write detailed letters to supervisors, contractors and clients. For example, they outline deliverables and work completion directives in letters of understanding provided to contractors. They write cover letters to outline details of construction bids. They often have to explain and justify changes to the original bids or project specifications. (2)
- Write technical instructions and explanations for co-workers and contractors. For example, they write detailed installation instructions and tool requirements for installing modified equipment. (3)
- Prepare reports, which address a variety of operational matters for supervisors and clients. For example, they write detailed progress reports, which describe work progress, detail work delays, outline corrective action taken and recommend follow-up actions. They submit the reports to financial institutions to release project funds. (4)
- Draft recommendation reports for actions such as the purchase of new equipment, change of product and supplier, or to modify installations, and then submit to management or clients for approval. These lengthy documents generally include a cost analysis and justifications for the various options they have selected. For example, their recommendations may include a health and safety assessment; description of all specifications, and modification details; or the evaluation of several suppliers and a justification of the supplier chosen. (4)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
- Calculate travel expense amounts using established rates such as per kilometre travel rates. They total the dollar amounts on expense sheets before submitting for reimbursement. (2)
- Prepare invoices for completed jobs. They calculate labour and equipment costs at hourly rates and add material costs. They apply price mark-ups, appropriate taxes and total the amounts. (3)
Measurement and Calculation Math
- Schedule payments and orders so that cash flows provide maximum benefits to their companies. For example, they order supplies near the end of the month to reduce billing periods and receive discounts for paying within fifteen days of receipt. (3)
- Perform cost-benefit analyses for equipment and materials. For example, an electrical estimator tracks the initial and follow-up costs of two switches. The estimator determines the more expensive switch is more cost-effective when he factors in follow up labour and part replacement costs into the analysis. (3)
- May establish and monitor schedules for long-term multi-phased projects. They establish critical timelines and schedule the activities of staff, consultants and contractors. In addition, they coordinate tasks with other departments and companies, including multiple specialty trade contractors. Many factors such as sub-contractor, material and equipment availability, construction difficulties, and extended wet weather have a large impact on project schedules and require constant monitoring. As a result they continually adjust schedules to ensure project time lines are met. (4)
- Determine and monitor budgets for large and small concurrent projects. They consider labour, material, equipment, contractor and auxiliary equipment costs using established costing rates and profit mark-ups. They monitor expenses to ensure projects are within budget, and adjust schedules and budget lines to accommodate unexpected delays and costs. Project costs are often in the range of twenty thousand to on hundred thousand dollars but may run to millions of dollars for multi-phased projects. In addition, they may prepare financial summaries to monitor profits and losses. (4)
Data Analysis Math
- Take measurements using a tape measure during site visits to verify quantities of material. For example they may measure lengths of wiring. (1)
- Calculate missing dimensions on scale drawings so they can accurately determine quantities. Construction estimators must take measurements from scale drawings and calculate areas, perimeters and volumes, and may have to create a new scale drawing to determine the missing dimensions. (3)
- Calculate material quantities for jobs involving complex and irregular shapes. They set up equations to calculate height, depth, angles and degree of curves using principles of geometry and trigonometry. They insert these dimensions into formulae to determine the volume of material required to bring sections of roadways up to grade level. (4)
- Average labour and material costs to guide future estimates. (2)
- Analyze monthly data on labour and material performance to identify problem areas and depict trends over time in quality, defects or efficiency. For example, they monitor product failures and replacement costs to draw conclusions about the cost effectiveness of products. They analyze project costs such as labour costs versus budgeted costs and equipment downtimes to determine if there are areas in which they can improve efficiencies. (3)
- Estimate the time needed to complete construction projects. They consider factors such as the complexity and size of the projects, the weather conditions expected during construction, equipment and materials needed and special requirement for particular types of jobs. (2)
- Estimate profits. They consider factors such as potential variations in cost and charge rates, potential project delays and possible cost overruns. Most factors are known but fluctuations can occur within plus or minus two percent. (3)
- Interact with co-workers and staff to share routine information, to provide direction and to coordinate work. For example, they provide brief job quote instructions to junior estimators and share job progress with co-workers. (1)
- Talk with clients, sub-contractors, competitors and suppliers for the purpose of exchanging information about construction progress, upcoming projects and to confirm availability and project timelines. They use these interactions to build and maintain their network and partnerships. (2)
- Speak regularly with clients, government officials, staff and contractors to provide and receive technical information, and respond to questions. For example, they speak with clients and supervisors to outline project modifications. They speak with ministry officials to negotiate the use of alternative materials and construction methods that meet the required codes and regulations. They speak with senior co-workers and supervisors to discuss particular pricing or quantification problems. (2)
- Negotiate the terms of agreements with contractors and suppliers. For example, they negotiate prices and delivery timelines with suppliers; services, terms and conditions of agreements and project timelines with contractors; and contract adjustments with clients when inaccurate information and drawings create the need for additional work. (3)
- Participate in weekly project meetings with staff to discuss topics such as productivity, project updates, scheduling, employee health and safety. At these meetings, they may present progress reports, make recommendations on production and procedures and assign tasks to staff. (3)
- Instruct junior estimators on estimating procedures such as completing difficult and complex sections of project costing analyses. They must communicate clearly to ensure there is a clear understanding of the processes. Miscommunications can lead to costly errors and additional training time. (3)
- Speak with architects, engineers, general and specialty trade contractors. For example, they speak with these professionals to discuss building and equipment options, seek clarification on drawings and specification sheets and to develop an understanding of particular construction procedures and specifications that may impact on costs. (3)
- Interact with clients to discuss and resolve construction problems such as code requirements being overlooked by architects. Clear and diplomatic communication is critical to reaching positive outcomes for the client and the company. (3)
- May make presentations to various levels of management to outline project proposals. The ability to organize, interpret and present ideas and to answer questions is important to winning contracts and achieving project approval. (3)
- Face clients who are upset because of inconveniences during construction such as the lack of an access road to sites. They take corrective action by building temporary driveways to enable the clients to reach the sites during construction. (1)
- Encounter cost overruns or project delays due to weather, slower progress then expected, contractors not being available when required, and materials and equipment not arriving as scheduled. For example, they discover that critical materials are on back order from the manufacturer. They identify alternative material and speak with clients to obtain approval. When possible they speak to the clients to explain the unforeseen situation and to try to reach shared cost compromises. (2)
- May encounter unexpected physical obstructions or problems during construction. For example, they may find that roadway construction designs will result in the uneven seaming of connecting roads. They speak with project managers and technical experts to determine alternative constructive methods that will remain within budget. They obtain approval from clients to continue. (2)
- May experience faulty work completed by contractors. For example, they discover incomplete installations of safety straps around inground gas tanks. They identify the deficiencies and have the contractors redo the jobs. They adjust work schedules to accommodate resulting delays. (3)
- Face owners and general contractors exerting pressure to resume work before receiving engineering approval. They emphasize the legal and cost implications of proceeding prematurely. (3)
- May experience increases in service calls. They investigate the calls to determine causal factors such as equipment or components breakage, worker carelessness and faulty equipment. They make recommendations for corrective action such as replacing components, changing component brands and providing training to servicing staff. (3)
- Decide which contractors and suppliers to use. They adapt and use standard evaluation criteria and price points when awarding contracts and accepting supplier's terms. Legal implications make decisions difficult to reverse. (2)
- Make product-purchasing decisions. Their decisions have a large impact on profit margins. For example, they decide to purchase generic brands rather then name brands to increase profit margins. They decide to purchase products that are more expensive but have lower malfunction rates over time. (2)
- Decide to bid on projects. In addition to set decision procedures they consider the amount of work they have confirmed, project timeframes, costs, equipment and human resources availability, and their chances of winning the contract. Decisions usually can not be reversed due to bidding deadlines and binding contracts. Deciding which estimate requests to respond to is an important business skill. (3)
- Decide how to deal with contractors who fail to show up for jobs or do not complete work to specifications. They may withhold payment until completion of work or reduce payments to offset work delay costs. They consider past relationships with the contractors and the cost implications to the project when making their decisions. Binding contracts can limit how they deal these situations, and their decisions must be geared towards motivating the contractor to meet their contractual obligations with minimal impact on overall project timelines and costs. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
Own Job Planning and Organizing
- Evaluate the feasibility of completing projects within clients' proposed budgets and timeframes. They consider timelines, season, equipment and human resources availability, complexity of project, including unknown factors. (2)
- Regularly evaluate the quality of construction materials and equipment by studying specifications, speaking with colleagues about their experiences, reading user reviews on supplier websites, and monitoring malfunctions and breakages. (2)
- Evaluate the quality of quotes using standard procedures. For example, they review costing procedures used and compare prices and work details with specifications to ensure accuracy and overall consistency. In addition, they use their knowledge and expertise to interpret and assess more subtle information not implicit in the bid and make suggestions or modifications that will enhance the quality of the bid and their chances of winning. (3)
Construction estimators organize their tasks to complete research, estimate project bids and manage project contracts for their employer or client organizations. They usually work on multiple projects, which can vary in length from one day to two years depending on the size and scope. Job tasks and priorities are project driven, but they decide the priority of tasks. They plan their daily, weekly and long term schedules to fit in activities, which may include: meetings, site visits, quote estimations, presentations, project management and quality control and productivity analysis. Their daily activities can vary widely from day-to-day. They work in fast paced environments in which they must be able to determine which projects and issues take priority. They must always be willing to reorganize their work schedule to deal with problems and situations as they arise to ensure projects stay on schedule. They interact with supervisors, contractors, colleagues and clients often in a coordinative role to integrate their tasks with others.
Planning and Organizing for Others
Construction estimators are often involved in operational and strategic planning by virtue of their job. Based on their understanding of an organization, they identify and complete estimates for a wide range of construction projects. They may plan and monitor project budgets and schedules depending on their level of experience. They coordinate the overall project work plan and provide operational and quality control recommendations and directives. They identify and establish staffing and contractor requirements. They may coordinate activities and tasks to complete projects. Senior estimators are responsible for assigning and monitoring the work of junior estimators.
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember codes and prices of materials to speed up pricing.
- Remember installation procedures for parts and components.
- Remember frequently used part numbers and phone numbers of contact persons.
- Remember technical terminology or acronyms specific to different trades to correctly interpret information in documents.
- Remember building layouts when completing job estimates.
- Remember content experts and contractors to know who to call for different problems or when hiring for different tasks.
- Locate pricing information for construction materials by searching internal and online supplier databases. (1)
- Identify and consult with content experts and co-workers to get their opinions on pricing and estimating details. (2)
- Locate technical information from past projects, professional publications, co-workers, supervisors and colleagues to evaluate specific products, procedures and contractors before deciding what to buy, who to hire and what to quote. (2)
- Draw on information from drawings, reports, timesheets and repair and replacement reports to monitor and improve project efficiencies and productivity. (3)
- Locate estimating information from bid specifications, codebooks, drawings, technical reports, costing and material databases and manuals. They use technical expertise to integrate the information to complete costing estimates. (3)
- Use graphics software. For example, they use graphics software such as Power Point to create presentations. They use importing and presentation features such as fadeouts. (2)
- Use the Internet. For example, they complete searches for technical information such as information relating to a specific construction procedure. They access and download information to obtain and send bid drawings and specifications using file transfer protocol. (2)
- Use word processing. For example, they write and format letters, memos and reports. They use functions such as page numbering and table of contents. They may set the final layout, embedding illustrations and graphs within the text. (3)
- Use databases. For example, they use software such as TOPS, Easyset, and Estimateur General to enter and obtain detailed information for quotes and to update databases. They use advanced features to set queries to input and access information and to enter commands to update data. (3)
- Use spreadsheets. For example, they use software such as Excel to generate cash flow, resource and labour tables and graphs. They use formatting features to embed formulae to links columns, rows, cells and pages. (3)
- Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, they prepare detailed summaries of project costs by creating cells to input data and embed calculation formulae into the cells. (3)
- Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, they modify architectural drawings and add details to drawings. They may zoom, rotate, enlarge and import drawings. (3)
- Use communication software. For example, they use Outlook Express to receive and send e-mail and attachments. They also use Outlook features such as address books and group listings, calendars and reminder alarms. (3)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Construction estimators may work as team leaders when coordinating estimation activities and constructions projects, and work independently when preparing quotes and job proposals. Others may spend most of their time working independently providing quantity and project estimates to companies. When preparing quotes, proposals and reports they work independently on specific activities such as touring job sites, reviewing drawings, calculating costs and writing. They coordinate tasks and activities with contractors and general contractors. When working as team members they integrate and coordinate tasks, schedules and resources to conduct multiple projects simultaneously. (3)
Construction Estimators learn daily as part of their job. They are not required to have estimating licences but may be required to maintain specific certificates such as Technical Standards Safety and Authority certificates, and workplace hazardous materials information system certificates. They learn through their day-to-day work, consulting with colleagues, and referencing professional and trade newsletters, and publications. They attend construction, estimating and quantity surveying seminars and courses offered by community colleges, provincial and national associations to continually build their knowledge base. They are responsible for staying current on construction products, practices and code changes. In larger organizations, supervisors may authorize courses as part of estimators learning plans. They speak to and build networks with content experts, suppliers and colleagues. (3)