How Do You Become a Cost Estimator?

Individuals interested in knowing how you become a cost estimator are usually pleasantly surprised to learn it’s a career that can be obtained with only a few years of education or training. Cost estimators play an important role in the success of a business because it’s often their recommendations that help management make cost-related decisions. Here is an overview of what it takes to become a cost estimator, what their career entails and the career outlook for these professionals.

What is a Cost Estimator?

A cost estimator is a trained professional who collects and analyzes data for companies to use to determine the cost it will take to provide a service, construct a building or manufacture a product. The cost estimator’s data provides him or her with an estimation of the time, materials, labor and money it will cost for a specific item or product, so the company can make an informed decision. Companies typically rely heavily on the recommendations made by their cost estimators.

Cost estimators read technical documents and blueprints; identify what affects costs; analyze and adjust estimates; collaborate with architects and engineers; work with sales teams to prepare client bids; and make recommendations on how to cut costs. Although cost estimators are found in many industries, manufacturing cost estimators and construction cost estimators are the two most common types of cost estimators.

How Do You Become a Cost Estimator?

An individual may become a cost estimator without a degree if he or she has worked for the company for several years and has extensive experience in construction or manufacturing, but most companies hire cost estimators who have at least a bachelor’s degree. Construction cost estimators generally need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, construction management or an industry-related field. Manufacturing cost estimators usually need a bachelor’s degree in business, engineering or finance.

Even with the degree, cost estimators will receive on-the-job training to become familiar with the company’s software and cost estimation methods. Businesses generally use industry-specific software like computer-aided design (CAD) or building information modeling (BIM) software. Because of the great amount of analyzing, calculating and collaborating involved in this job, cost estimators should be detail-oriented and possess good communication, analytical, math and time-management skills.

Career Outlook

Cost estimators are projected to experience a job growth of 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As the economy continues to grow, the demand for cost estimators will also grow because they’re needed to help companies become as profitable as possible. The construction industry is the where the most new cost estimator jobs will be found. Annual wages for cost estimators ranged from $37,000 to $106,010 with the average annual wage being $68,420, according to a 2017 BLS wage report. Experience, training and location all play a role in determining a cost estimator’s wages. Cost estimators who have knowledge and experience with CAD and BIM typically have better job prospects.

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Working as a cost estimator can be challenging as well as exciting because these individuals are helping their company’s make as much money as possible, which can be beneficial in terms of job satisfaction and promotions. Becoming a cost estimator can be the start of a great career for the right individual.