Cost Estimator

A cost estimator calculates the cost for labor, time, and..

Cost Estimator

What does a Cost Estimator do?

Median Pay $61,790
Growth Rate 11%
Citation Retrieved in 2017 from BLS.gov

A cost estimator calculates the cost for labor, time, and materials by collecting and analyzing information that is needed to construct a building or product other products. They visit work sites to review the manufacturing process and usually have expertise in a particular area of product or industry. They prepare the cost estimates to assist management, products, or industries in price determination or bidding.

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How to become a Cost Estimator

cost estimator

A cost estimator usually needs a bachelor’s degree in accounting and/or similar field to be considered for a position. Experience in mathematics history, on-the-job training, and/or vocational school would aid you to securing a position. A cost estimator is expected to have knowledge in engineering and technology, mathematics, accounting and economics, and design. Knowledge of building and construction would be another area of experience required of a cost estimator if they work for a construction company or similar setting.

Job Description of a Cost Estimator

A cost estimator would help management in an industry for construction projects, manufacturing product or other services to determine the cost estimate for bidding or service in these or other areas. They would help resolve issues and formulate estimates by consulting with construction Forman, vendors and clients. This would include reading and analyzing documentation and blueprints in order to give accurate material, cost, time and labor estimates.

During the length of a project a cost estimator would be expected to update and prepare cost and other updated documentation to management. This way, the client is always aware of any changes in scheduling or estimated expenditures. They should analyze whether it is more cost effective to purchase or produce labor and materials for a project. He or she may be required to train others, supervise, or coordinate people in this job.

Cost Estimator Career Video Transcript

For every great product that’s been made, from the tiny cameras in smartphones to the Golden Gate Bridge, the close scrutiny of a cost estimator helped make sure it could be built. Cost estimators estimate the time, money, materials, and labor needed to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. Because of the detailed knowledge they gain through continual data collection and analysis, cost estimators usually specialize in a particular product or industry.

Construction cost estimators calculate total costs of building major projects such as a shopping center, or sports arena, or the cost of one element, such as a building foundation. Besides accounting for raw materials and labor costs, estimators factor in bad weather, shipping delays, and other variables that affect a project’s costs and timeline. Manufacturing estimators calculate the costs of producing or redesigning products, such as a dishwasher, or new software.

Though estimators mostly work in offices, they may need to visit construction sites and factory floors to gather information. They typically work for engineering or construction firms, and frequently collaborate with teams of engineers and architects as well as with clients and contractors. A bachelor’s degree is generally required, although highly experienced construction workers may qualify without a degree. Strong math and analytical skills, and detail orientation are essential.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Cost Estimators.

National Center for O*NET Development. 13-1051.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.


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