Primarily employed in the construction or manufacturing industries, cost estimators help business owners and managers put together competitive bids for contracts, projects and products by forecasting the costs, scope and timeline involved. They also support profitability goals by analyzing projects for potential profit. If you’d like to prepare for a career as a cost estimator, enrolling in BA in Business Administration/Accounting can be the first step.
Cost Estimator Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*, employment of cost estimators is expected to grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than the average of all occupations. This demand is due in part by growth in the construction industry, which will create the majority of new jobs for cost estimators.
What Does a Cost Estimator Do?
To determine a project’s cost, scope and duration, a construction industry cost estimator typically collects and analyzes available data on applicable factors, including materials, machinery requirements, labor costs and location. They may visit a construction site to study access, availability of utilities, topography, drainage and other relevant cost elements.
Typically, cost estimator responsibilities include the following:
Many cost estimators work in manufacturing, often in the engineering or pricing department. They analyze the costs associated with developing, redesigning and producing products. Working with blueprints or conceptual drawings of new projects, the cost estimator first considers the machining operations, tools and materials required, prepares a parts list and determines the most efficient method of producing the product. They gather pricing from parts manufacturers and decide whether purchasing or manufacturing parts is more profitable. Finally, they calculate time for design, fabrication, manufacturing parts and correcting possible problems.
In some firms, cost estimators specialize in certain areas of manufacturing or construction, such as electrical, excavation, or heating and air conditioning. They may take a lead role in questioning changes in pricing and negotiating claims.
Cost estimators usually work in office environments, and 40 hours per week is typical. At times, overtime may be required, especially when bids are due. In some industries, travel is required to visit job sites, manufacturing facilities and subcontractor locations.
What is the Salary of a Cost Estimator?
According to the BLS*, the median annual salary for cost estimators was $64,040 in May 2018. Cost estimators in the heavy and civil engineering construction industry had the highest earnings at $73,040.
How Do You Become a Cost Estimator?
Required education and training for starting toward a cost estimator career vary according to industry. Construction and manufacturing employers increasingly require a bachelor’s degree. Engineering, finance, accounting, business or a related discipline is typically preferred.
According to O*NET OnLine, a government career website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, 64% of cost estimators possessed a bachelor’s degree.
Is Becoming a Cost Estimator Your New Career Path?
Do you have strong mathematical, analytical and problem-solving skills, along with excellent written and verbal communication skills? Do you enjoy finding the best way to approach a project or solve a puzzle? If so, you may be a good candidate for a cost estimator career. Along with sound decision-making ability, strong business skills and leadership ability, earning an accounting degree could prepare you to pursue career opportunities in a variety of fields, including breaking into manufacturing or construction as a cost estimator!
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Cost Estimators, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/cost-estimators.htm (accessed January 31, 2020).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Degree and/or certificate program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.