Joseph L. Kenick III
Title: Senior Estimator
Company: Payton Construction Corporation
1. What field are you in?
2. Please briefly describe your job.
As an Estimator, I work with Architects and Owners to create designs within budget.
3. How did you get interested in this work?
I didn't like the unpredictable weather associated with field work and the excuses that come with Project Management. In estimating, I rely on a very small team of assistants and it's up to me to meet the deadlines. No whiney excuses - estimating is all about attention to details and self reliance.
Estimating pays pretty well, too. Many people hate to estimate costs and very few can estimate accurately. If you choose estimating as a career path you can make a very comfortable living. Not as much as a doctor or a lawyer, but estimators don't have to pay huge liability insurance premiums either. There's also a lot of job security because construction firms everywhere in the world are always looking for experienced and reliable estimators.
4. Were there any obstacles to overcome to get into this work?
If so, what were they and how did you overcome them? Good estimators require field experience. If you've never actually built a large construction project, you can't anticipate all the factors that affect the cost. I moved from Project Management into Estimating by being tutored by an experienced Senior Estimator.
5. Describe a typical day at your job.
My job is primarily in an office environment. I visit the site for each project I estimate and then I'm back in the office. Sometimes I'm in Owner's meetings explaining costs and options; sometimes I meet with Architects. I work on a given project for only a few weeks - maybe a few months - and then it goes to Construction. I often work on bids for three or four projects at the same time. The best part is that my work load is always new and unique.
6. What suggestions do you have for middle school kids who are interested in a job like yours?
- Take a lot of math courses. Estimators use a lot of math.
- Also take a lot of English courses. If you can't express your ideas in a professional manner, both written and verbal, no one is going to listen to your input or trust your estimating skills.
- Science courses, especially physics and engineering-related courses.
- Take a plan reading course. You have to know how to read plans!
- Pick a school that offers a degree program in Construction Management or Estimating.
- Get a co-op position in the estimating department of a major construction firm.
- Don't overlook any opportunity to get valuable field experience!