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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]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 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
35253 posts
21231 upvotes
Center of Universe
mattnew wrote: 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]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
vkizzle wrote: 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
35253 posts
21231 upvotes
Center of Universe
mattnew wrote: 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]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
vkizzle wrote: 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
1279 posts
929 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]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
xblackrainbow wrote: 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
1279 posts
929 upvotes
North York
mattnew wrote: 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]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
xblackrainbow wrote: 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
1279 posts
929 upvotes
North York
mattnew wrote: 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.
Sr. Member
Nov 22, 2017
676 posts
395 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]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
Extrahard wrote: 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 Fanatic
Mar 21, 2010
5483 posts
2291 upvotes
Toronto
mattnew wrote: 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
9580 posts
1969 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
2525 posts
2197 upvotes
Canada
Formula to win govt contracts. Estimate low, win contract, then reevaluate carefully later. Ppl will blame the government for being overbudget.
To the moon
Deal Fanatic
May 18, 2009
6258 posts
1466 upvotes
Richmond Hill
mattnew wrote: 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!
got tips for people trying to break into the HR field? I'll be graduating this Aug with a HRM post-grad certificate from Seneca.
[OP]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
Manatus wrote: 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.
I thought of that indeed. Can't complain as I'm currently employed; I just need to think if a long commute (1.5 hours each way) and evening classes (6 to 10pm few days a week) are worth staying where I am if there is no way to move to construction (still under discussions but I'll need a reply from my employer at some point).
[OP]
Member
Aug 15, 2018
240 posts
79 upvotes
yesstyle wrote: got tips for people trying to break into the HR field? I'll be graduating this Aug with a HRM post-grad certificate from Seneca.
I'll gladly share my thoughts:
- Apply to a job online but don't leave it here
- Network. LinkedIn is a fabulous tool to connect with HR Directors in companies you are interested to work in. Raise your hand, invite them to connect, introduce yourself briefly (always formally though), say you applied to the role online (due diligence done) but you want to show your interest and would welcome the opportunity to discuss it with them. That's how I got all my jobs, in 4 countries including Europe, Asia and Canada so it seems it works well everywhere. Not everyone will reply you, but it's fine you can't please everyone. Also learning how to deal with rejection is something you'll benefit from (I started in Sales and I'm so glad I did it).
- Gain exposure on all HR facets (comp and ben, recruitment etc..) but keep in mind that AI is coming and there is little future in jobs such as recruiter. Compensation and benefits will give you a job and also it pays rather well. It's also more interesting and challenging, especially if you deal with international employment transfers or things like that
- Join a small company first. Large companies mostly have HR systems in place, you will be an "administrator", following a system and its rules. It's boring. From a resume point of view, it's much more interesting to join a smaller company but participate to developing their HR procedures, policies, implementing new HRIS systems etc... then you can join a larger company and sell your experience easily as you will have a great exposure/know the system inside out and you will be able to deal with policies, systems etc..
- Do the work no one else wants to do: whether it's difficult and low paid, rewards are non existent etc... if you see it as adding value to your resume, go for it
- Join an industry you like. If you're a tech guy, go in tech. You will enjoy the general work environment more than if you do construction for example

Just my thoughts.

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