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Construction Cost Estimator: Job Description and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a construction cost estimator. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Construction cost estimators works for businesses that are constructing structures or buildings. They may estimate the entire project, or a single aspect of that project such as electrical. The job growth outlook is faster than average for these positions.

Essential Information

Cost estimators determine how much money is required to complete a specific construction project. If the project is large, more than one cost estimator may be needed, each focusing on a particular aspect of the project, such as electricity, equipment or material costs. A cost estimator may have to visit the construction site, but mainly works in an office and uses a computer to put together his or her report.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in construction management
Other Requirements Work experience; voluntary certification in cost consulting
Projected Job Growth 9% from 2014-2024*
Average Salary (2015) $64,810 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Construction Cost Estimator Requirements

Education

It is possible to become a cost estimator by working in the industry for a number of years, combined with courses and/or an associate degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). However, employers usually prefer candidates with a bachelor's in construction management, or construction or building science.

A bachelor's in the above disciplines may contain courses which detail how to ascertain the cost of a particular construction project. Students may be instructed in the role of cost estimating in the organizing and planning phases, as well as during the actual construction phase. Students learn to take the results of the cost estimate procedure and develop a competitive bid. Program may also have courses regarding estimate types, price databases and estimating computer applications. A program may include courses in managerial accounting,

Certification

AACE International (www.aacei.org) offers the voluntary certification CCC (Certified Cost Consultant). Applicants need either professional experience (eight years) or a degree in building construction and four years of experience. They must submit a technical paper of at least 2,500 words and pass an exam.

A voluntary certification in cost estimation is administered by American Society of Professional Estimators (www.aspenational.org). The Certified Professional Estimator (CPE) requires applicants to have at least five years of experience, complete a workshop and submit a technical paper to demonstrate technical and communication skills. Lastly, applicants must pass an exam. Certification is renewed every three years.

Certified Cost Estimator credential, also voluntary, is overseen by the Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis (SCEA). Applicants must have a bachelor's in any discipline, along with five years of experience in cost estimation. If an individual does not have a degree, he or she needs eight years of experience. Applicants must pass an exam. Certification must be renewed every five years.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Cost estimators should have a faster than average employment growth rate of 9% over the 2014-2024 decade, reports the BLS. Construction industry growth was mentioned as a major factor for this growth. The BLS reported a mean annual wage of $64,810 for cost estimators in May 2015, and most salaries ranged from $34,720 to $100,570.

Construction cost estimators usually require a bachelor's degree. They can also seek a voluntary certification which may aid with career advancement. The average salary for this profession is about $65,000 per year.

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