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Career change: from HR --> Construction/Estimating

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  • May 27th, 2019 3:41 pm
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[OP]
Newbie
Aug 15, 2018
52 posts
24 upvotes

Career change: from HR --> Construction/Estimating

Hi everyone,

I would be glad to hear from people who have done a career change in their 30's or beyond.

Basically I have a HR Degree with 8 years HR experience. I work for a large construction company and have developed an interest in the cost estimating role (quantity surveying) - but have no experience in this field.

Of course I would need to get appropriate education before changing my job and as far as I know, these are my options:

- Diploma or Degree: full time only so this means 2 to 4 years without income. Unfortunately not an option for me.
- College Certificate: continuing learning, evening classes so I can study and have an income in the same time.

Several colleges in the Toronto area propose construction management degrees as well as cost estimating certificates.

My main concern is: what are the chances someone gets a job when changing his/her career and showing only a college certificate as education?
I am not from Canada so not very familiar with the education system yet. While I understand a certificate prepares you for a new job, I am concerned it might not be high enough.

I would welcome anyone who could share their thoughts or experience.

Thank you!
Last edited by mattnew on May 23rd, 2019 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
17 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
27374 posts
13331 upvotes
Ottawa
mattnew wrote:
May 23rd, 2019 3:11 pm
Hi everyone,

I would be glad to hear from people who have done a career change in their 30's or beyond.

Basically I have a HR Degree with 8 years experience. I work for a large construction company and have developed an interest in the cost estimating role (quantity surveying).

Of course I would need to get appropriate education before changing my job and as far as I know, these are my options:

- Diploma or Degree: full time only so this means 2 to 4 years without income. Unfortunately not an option for me.
- College Certificate: continuing learning, evening classes so I can study and have an income in the same time.

Several colleges in the Toronto area propose construction management degrees as well as cost estimating certificates.

My main concern is: what are the chances someone gets a job when changing his/her career and showing only a college certificate as education?
I am not from Canada so not very familiar with the education system yet. While I understand a certificate prepares you for a new job, I am concerned it might not be high enough.

I would welcome anyone who could share their thoughts or experience.

Thank you!
You can't apply internally based on experience?
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 15, 2018
52 posts
24 upvotes
vkizzle wrote:
May 23rd, 2019 3:18 pm
You can't apply internally based on experience?
Sorry I should have mentioned, I work in the HR department, not estimating. So my current experience is different and I will need education.

I edited my post so it's a bit more clear - thanks for making me notice.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
27374 posts
13331 upvotes
Ottawa
mattnew wrote:
May 23rd, 2019 3:22 pm
Sorry I should have mentioned, I work in the HR department, not estimating. So my current experience is different and I will need education.

I edited my post so it's a bit more clear - thanks for making me notice.
No need to apologize, as I understood what you meant.
I was assuming being in HR you would be well versed of all the policies and procedures of the company, including details of roles and responsibilities which would help you at least be considered as a junior estimator and work your way up?
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 15, 2018
52 posts
24 upvotes
vkizzle wrote:
May 23rd, 2019 3:32 pm
No need to apologize, as I understood what you meant.
I was assuming being in HR you would be well versed of all the policies and procedures of the company, including details of roles and responsibilities which would help you at least be considered as a junior estimator and work your way up?
That would be the ideal situation and I already spoke to my supervisors about my intention to switch. I could be considered for a role in another department but it's not guaranteed/part of a policy or program unfortunately. It depends on the "receiving" department. In my case they could be OK with it but it depends on their work load, which is currently a little low.

So I am preparing to go back to the job market if I have to. That would for sure not be my first choice.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2013
1102 posts
607 upvotes
North York
I've done this in the past. You don't really need experience but you do need a mentor that is willing to show you the ropes. It is quite a grinding job and there will be many days and months when all your hard work goes to waste cause the company may not be competitive enough for a bid. It's very repetitive and at the end you'll learn how to read construction drawings very fast
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 15, 2018
52 posts
24 upvotes
xblackrainbow wrote:
May 23rd, 2019 6:51 pm
I've done this in the past. You don't really need experience but you do need a mentor that is willing to show you the ropes. It is quite a grinding job and there will be many days and months when all your hard work goes to waste cause the company may not be competitive enough for a bid. It's very repetitive and at the end you'll learn how to read construction drawings very fast
Thanks for commenting. Since you've done the same journey, I would have two questions for you:

1. Did you go back to school to study estimating or did your mentor taught you?
2. Have you regretted your choice since then? I'm just being curious here.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2013
1102 posts
607 upvotes
North York
mattnew wrote:
May 24th, 2019 9:23 am
Thanks for commenting. Since you've done the same journey, I would have two questions for you:

1. Did you go back to school to study estimating or did your mentor taught you?
2. Have you regretted your choice since then? I'm just being curious here.
I've transferred the skills I learned to doing something different now but still working closely within the industry.

I went to school for engineering and this was my internship job for 3rd year. Imo you don't need an engineering degree for this but there are simple math you need to be comfortable grinding with quickly and accurately to calculate volumes and counts.

Didn't regret at all since I've used the skills to better myself in the field!
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 15, 2018
52 posts
24 upvotes
xblackrainbow wrote:
May 24th, 2019 10:33 am
I've transferred the skills I learned to doing something different now but still working closely within the industry.

I went to school for engineering and this was my internship job for 3rd year. Imo you don't need an engineering degree for this but there are simple math you need to be comfortable grinding with quickly and accurately to calculate volumes and counts.

Didn't regret at all since I've used the skills to better myself in the field!
Thanks for sharing. It sounds like a specialized college certificate might give me a job then.
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2013
1102 posts
607 upvotes
North York
mattnew wrote:
May 24th, 2019 10:48 am
Thanks for sharing. It sounds like a specialized college certificate might give me a job then.
Perhaps! Best of luck. It gives an incredibly good feeling and exciting when you win a bid by just a tiny bit away from a competitor.
Member
Nov 22, 2017
200 posts
93 upvotes
It's a grueling job, a college certificate will do. You have to have a sharp eye and be good at doing research. The pay is also very good after you gain some experience in it because the estimator is essentially responsible for winning contracts. I would start off by mentioning your intentions to the estimating team at your company.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 15, 2018
52 posts
24 upvotes
Extrahard wrote:
May 25th, 2019 6:55 am
It's a grueling job, a college certificate will do. You have to have a sharp eye and be good at doing research. The pay is also very good after you gain some experience in it because the estimator is essentially responsible for winning contracts. I would start off by mentioning your intentions to the estimating team at your company.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I already raised my hand to them; just getting prepared to look somewhere else if it doesn't work.
Deal Addict
Mar 21, 2010
4449 posts
1278 upvotes
Toronto
mattnew wrote:
May 25th, 2019 10:27 am
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I already raised my hand to them; just getting prepared to look somewhere else if it doesn't work.
I would say don't be too quick to move on. It's going to be pretty tough in any field to get a job from scratch, after going back to college a good way into your career. You're already employed by a company that does the thing you want to do. Unless they really don't want to work with you (doesn't seem like that's the case), that's by far your best chance. The worst thing that can happen is you continue being in HR a bit longer and keep getting paid. That's better than not being able to get a job out of college because you don't have experience, and not being able to get another HR job because you went to college for something else.

At the very least, use your current employment to network in the industry. Maybe your company has a friendly relationship with subcontractors etc. that you can build links with.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 21, 2011
8547 posts
1495 upvotes
Edmonton
I know many estimators and not a single one of them went to any sort of business school for estimating. A few worked in the trade they estimate for, a few had zero experience. It's very much something you can learn on the job, but the fine details of it generally comes from experience working in the trade.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Dec 16, 2015
1401 posts
973 upvotes
Canada
Formula to win govt contracts. Estimate low, win contract, then reevaluate carefully later. Ppl will blame the government for being overbudget.

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