Cost Estimator

A Cost Estimator collects information and makes reports on the estimated money, time, labor and materials needed to create a product, complete a construction project or provide services. They will often specialize in a certain product or industry.

Other job duties will include: visiting different job sites to gather the information needed to make an estimate, working with architects, contractors, clients, etc., consulting with experts, reading technical documents and blueprints, and using specialized computer software to figure out estimates. They will use all of their research to figure out the profitability or cost-effectiveness of a product or project, make recommendations to make products or projects more cost-effective and profitable, work with sales experts to create bids for clients and develop plans for the project.

The work of a Cost Estimator is very important. Businesses depend on these estimates to know if their projects will fit within budget or not. These estimates must be accurate and take into account many things. A Cost Estimator has to consider and include bad weather, the cost of wasted material and the cost of delays in shipping. These things can increase the cost of the project and decrease the profit.

Types of Cost Estimators include:

  • Construction Cost Estimators figure the cost of construction projects. They might be involved in figuring the cost of a number of large building projects, including bridges, buildings and shopping centers. They will determine the cost of the necessary materials, the cost of the labor needed and the time it should take to complete the project. Construction Cost Estimators can work for constructions firms, architects, engineers or contractors.

  • Manufacturing Cost Estimators figure out the cost of producing, creating or changing a company’s services or products. Some Manufacturing Cost Estimators work in the software industry. They will figure the cost of the software required for high-tech products. This requires a great amount of expertise.

Work Environment
Most Cost Estimators work in an office setting, however, depending on the industry, many of them travel to factories or construction sites to do their research. Cost Estimators must work within a deadline. Failing to meet a deadline or providing an inaccurate estimate can cost the company money. Cost Estimators work full time and some work overtime in order to meet deadlines.

How to Become a Cost Estimator
To become a Cost Estimator, a person generally must have a Bachelor’s degree in a field like engineering or construction management. Candidates with a very strong mathematics background are preferred. Depending on the industry, some employers will hire candidates with accounting, business or finance backgrounds. Some very experienced and knowledgeable construction workers may qualify for a position as a Cost Estimator without a Bachelor’s degree.

Cost Estimators will be given some training on the job, depending on their past experience. Candidates that have worked within the industry or received experience through an internship will require less on-the-job training than those without prior industry experience.

Certification is usually voluntary, but can show expertise in the field. However, some employers might require certification before hiring. A Cost Estimator can become certified with two years of experience and passing a written test.

Some skills that are important in the Cost Estimator field are: candidates must be detail-oriented in order to make accurate estimates; Cost Estimators have to have experience and knowledge in the industry; a candidate must be very analytical in their research; they must be able to manage their time to meet all deadlines; also, Cost Estimators spend a lot of time writing estimates. So, they must have excellent writing and communication skills.

Cost Estimators, depending on industry and experience, can make between $35,000 and $97,000 per year. The median wage, according to research performed in 2012, is about $59,000 per year.

Job Outlook
Cost Estimators are very important to companies. They are needed to keep a company within their budget and to ensure their services or products will be profitable. Because of this, Cost Estimators continue to be in high demand. It is projected that this job industry will to continue growing over the next ten years. Growth will happen particularly in the construction industry. As more roads, airports, bridges and buildings are being built, Cost Estimators are needed.

Job prospects are excellent, especially for candidates with Bachelor’s degrees in related fields and excellent math skills. In the manufacturing industry, candidates with statistics, math and engineering experience will be given preference. For the construction industry, employers will be looking to hire people with construction knowledge and knowledge of new modeling software.

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