Cost Estimator: Job Description & Career Info

A construction or manufacturing project requires a lot of effort on the part of managers, owners, workers and engineers. Cost estimators help manufacturing teams by estimating the costs involved in a project and helping construction managers stay on task financially. If estimating costs sounds like a satisfying career, read on to learn more about cost estimating.

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Career Definition for a Cost Estimator

Cost estimators calculate the magnitude, price and length of building projects in both the construction and manufacturing industries in order to minimize expenses and maximize profits for both parties. Cost estimating is achieved via accumulating and appraising data on an assortment of aspects that can impact expenses, including resources, labor, setting, time-span and hardware. Once these issues have been determined, a cost estimator presents a financial summary and proposal for the development.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in mathematics, engineering, construction science or construction management
Necessary Skills Technology, mathematics, analytics, confidence, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015)* $60,390
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 9%

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Although some people can get jobs as cost estimators based on previous work experience, most prospective cost estimators should attend college. If going into construction, a cost estimator should obtain a bachelor's degree in either construction science or construction management, while cost estimators entering into manufacturing need a bachelor's degree in engineering or mathematics. Applicants may also consider getting certifications from the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) or Sun Certified Enterprise Architect (SCEA).

Skills Required

Cost estimators need to be comfortable working with technology and numbers, which they use to examine, compare and understand building materials information. In order to correctly interpret data and reach accurate conclusions, they must also be analytical. Cost estimators should be self-confident, friendly and clear when presenting ideas and conclusions to development teams.

Occupation and Financial Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual income of a cost estimator was $60,390, as of May 2015. The field of cost estimating is predicted to grow at a much faster than average rate due to a growing construction industry and the need for accurate project budgets. The BLS predicts the the number of jobs for cost estimators will increase 9% from 2014-2024.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a cost estimator will help prepare you for jobs in other areas.

Claims Adjuster, Appraiser, Examiner and Investigator

Although a high school diploma might suffice, some employers look for employees with a bachelor's degree and insurance experience for jobs above the entry level. These professionals evaluate insurance claims and decide amounts to be paid by insurance companies. Slower-than-average employment growth of 3% was predicted by the BLS for these positions from 2014-2024, mainly due to automated processing. In 2015, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $62,980 for these professionals.

Auto Damage Insurance Appraisers

A decline of 1% in employment for these positions was projected by the BLS from 2014-2024, due mostly to a reduction in auto accidents across the country. These appraisers usually have a postsecondary certificate and work experience in estimating and identifying automotive repair costs. The BLS revealed a median wage of $64,020 per year for auto damage insurance appraisers in 2015.

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