Document Detail

Title: RS253-1 - Estimating as a Competency in Capital Projects
Publication Date: 9/1/2011
Product Type: Research Summary
Status: Supporting Product
Pages: 36
Discusses the imminent shortage of qualified cost estimators in the construction industry and the industry's urgent need to recruit, train, and retain a new generation of these professionals. Identifies the 23 core competencies of estimators, categorizing them as skills, knowledge, or personal attributes. Describes the development and use of the Estimating Competency Assessment and Training Recommendations tool. Further discusses the uses of the tool and the reports it generates on individual estimators' competency gaps. Distinguishes three categories of professional estimators, recommending recruitment, training, and retention strategies for each category.

NOTE: Actual tool included with IR253-2.
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Cost estimating is a critical function for successful capital projects, and reliable estimates depend heavily on the competency of cost estimators. Tools that aid the estimating process cannot replace the judgment and experience of a competent estimator. The greatest challenge facing the cost estimating community over the next decade will be the loss of the knowledge and experience of the highly experienced estimators who will be retiring. A large percentage of experienced estimators are now either retiring or planning retirement, and there is an acute shortage of qualified cost estimators to replace them in the engineering and construction industry.

CII Research Team (RT) 253 was chartered to find solutions to both issues: the short supply of competent estimators and the loss of knowledge and experience of retiring estimators. RT 253 confirmed that there is indeed a serious shortage of cost estimators, now and for the immediate future, and that there are growing concerns about the gaps in the estimating competencies of junior estimators. For this study, the research team conducted four independent surveys and collected extensive data to accomplish the following objectives

  • Identify cost estimating competencies and investigate the gaps between the current and desired level of cost estimating competencies.
  • Identify effective methods to recruit, attract, and retain cost estimators.
  • Identify effective methods and strategies to transfer estimating knowledge and skills.
  • Develop plans to educate and train new estimators.
  • Identify career paths for cost estimators.


The team also identified effective solutions to fill these gaps. The solutions identified in this study include the following:

  • more effective and targeted recruitment methods
  • more effective methods to attract and retain cost estimators
  • efficient methods to transfer estimating knowledge and skills
  • development of ideal career paths.


The team produced the following deliverables:

  • Research Summary 253-1, Estimating as a Competency in Capital Projects
  • Implementation Resource 253-2, Estimating Competency Assessment and Training Recommendations
  • Research Report 253-11, Estimating as a Competency in Capital Projects.


The findings in this study can be used as a set of practical guides when designing and developing recruitment and retention plans for cost estimators, cost estimating training programs, and a long-term career development plan for cost estimators in the engineering and construction industry.