The primary duties of a cost estimator are to collect and analyze data in order to provide accurate estimations of money, time, resources, and labor necessary for the industry they work in. Cost estimators typically work in product manufacturing, services, or construction projects but can specialize in a particular industry or product type as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Specific aspects of what they do may include frequent travel to job sites to collect information on the project, working with highly technical software for estimate calculations, and preparing documents, blueprints, and estimates for clients, among other things. The most important aspect of their work is to produce accurate estimates in predicting the cost, size, and duration of projects:
- Consult with experts in the industry to resolve issues and discuss estimates
- Read blueprints and technical documents in preparation for drawing up estimates
- Evaluate the cost effectiveness and profitability of a product for clients
- Develop plans for the duration of the project
Cost estimators are generally employed in manufacturing or construction and in these two industries, there is much growth and expansion. Because the industries are experiencing a greater need for efficiency and cost-effectiveness in business, the demand for cost estimators has increased as well, as is noted by the BLS in the figures above. Companies are increasingly concerned about keeping their businesses as streamlined and efficient as possible to keep costs to a minimum and maximize returns. A cost estimator with the right education and skills can be a highly valuable asset to companies.
Job Growth for
Becoming a Cost Estimator
To secure the prized position of Cost Estimator for a company, candidates will most likely need to hold a bachelor's degree. Although it is possible to gain cost estimator jobs without a bachelor's degree, the candidate would need to be highly skilled and experienced in most cases. Jobs in cost estimation typically fall into one of the two categories listed above: manufacturing and construction. Construction cost estimator jobs usually require a bachelor's degree but will provide on-the-job training for newly hired estimators, which can last from several months to a few years.
Degrees useful for becoming a cost estimator relate primarily to the industry, such as building science or construction management for construction cost estimators and engineering, mathematics, statistics, or other business related bachelor's for manufacturing estimators. If experience is necessary for a career in cost estimation, a candidate may pursue an internship or cooperative education program to add experience to their resume. Depending on the industry a cost estimator is pursuing, relevant courses in their bachelor's degree might include the following:
- Industrial and Career Writing
- Legal Environment of Business
- Construction Cost Estimating
- Manufacturing Processes
In general, the education requirements for cost estimators focus on the knowledge base this career requires. Since cost estimators are so heavily relied on for accurate estimates, it is vitally important that the bachelor's degree of a candidate include enough information pertaining to the career. For example, construction cost estimators may get a degree in construction management that includes a variety of topics, such as actual construction, costs, business management, career writing, etc. These fundamental classes give the candidate a thorough understanding of the field they will be working in to ensure their estimates are accurate and of the highest quality. Additionally, cost estimators may need to be certified after two years of estimating experience by the American Society of Professional Estimators, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Estimating International, or the Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis.