How to Become a Cost Estimator

How to Become a Cost Estimator

Cost estimating is an essential part of many businesses and organizations that accurately predicts the scope, cost, and length of future projects. Cost estimators are trained professionals that determine the cost information for a variety of businesses and organizations.

What does a cost estimator do?

Cost estimators collect and analyze data of all of the aspects that can influence the costs of projects such as location, labor, materials, equipment, and time frame. They help determine the costs need for projects and help business managers or owners decide on how profitable new projects or products will be or make a bid for a contract. They also identify which projects are generating profit. Cost estimators often make recommendations on what types of materials, equipment, schedule, and employees need to complete a project. They perform quantity surveys and prepare overall cost summaries for the whole project. The methods for determining costs can vary by industry. Most cost estimators work in the construction or manufacturing industries.

What kind of training does a cost estimator need?

Cost estimators must have at least a high school diploma and additional requirements vary by industry. For cost estimators in the construction industry, employers prefer applicants with at least a bachelor degree in building science, construction science, or construction management. In the manufacturing industry most employers prefer candidates with at least a bachelor degree in engineering, statistics, or mathematics. All aspiring cost estimators must complete courses in cost estimating. Many participate in internships and part-time jobs to gain practical experience. Most employers provide intensive on the job training where new employees work with experience estimators.

What are the prospects for a career as a cost estimator?

Employment of cost estimators is expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 19% from 2006 to 2016 (1). A growing and aging population and the growth of the construction industry will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for cost estimators with advanced education and extensive experience. Many job openings will result in the need to replace cost estimators that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do cost estimators make?

As of October 2009, cost estimators with less than 1 year experience earn average annual salaries between $37,738 and $51,394. Those with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $39,125 and $53,914 (2).

A career as a cost estimator is an excellent choice for individuals interested in performing a variety of cost estimating activities. Cost estimators must have a strong aptitude for mathematics and be able to focus on details. Self-confidence, assertiveness, and motivation are also essential skills. Cost estimators must have strong communication and interpersonal skills because they interact with a variety of other professionals. They must also be able to work under stress and pressure, meet strict deadlines, and be able to work effectively as part of a team.

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