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Working as a Chief Estimator

Chief Estimators are critical members of any construction or design team. They create budget estimates based on a variety of factors. The estimates are then used to bid on projects. As a chief estimator, some of the factors you'd consider include the cost of materials, cost of labor, transportation fees, and the profit margin. Chief estimators need to be adept in accounting, as well as several software packages.

Sometimes, the chief estimator also needs to be adept at bargain hunting to find the best materials and labor prices and lower the cost prices. A chief estimator can be instrumental in securing contracts for a company and helping them turn a sizable profit.

Some of the chief estimator requirements include a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, construction management, or a related field. They also need to be adept with financial software, the Microsoft package, and other necessary tools.

There is more than meets the eye when it comes to being a chief estimator. For example, did you know that they make an average of $44.06 an hour? That's $91,652 a year!

Between 2018 and 2028, the career is expected to grow 9% and produce 18,700 job opportunities across the U.S.

What Does a Chief Estimator Do

There are certain skills that many chief estimators have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed analytical skills, communication skills and detail oriented.

When it comes to the most important skills required to be a chief estimator, we found that a lot of resumes listed 13.8% of chief estimators included construction projects, while 8.0% of resumes included project management, and 6.6% of resumes included cost estimates. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.

When it comes to searching for a job, many search for a key term or phrase. Instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn't even think offered positions related to the chief estimator job title. But what industry to start with? Most chief estimators actually find jobs in the construction and manufacturing industries.

How To Become a Chief Estimator

If you're interested in becoming a chief estimator, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We've determined that 48.9% of chief estimators have a bachelor's degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 13.7% of chief estimators have master's degrees. Even though most chief estimators have a college degree, it's possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.

Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become a chief estimator. When we researched the most common majors for a chief estimator, we found that they most commonly earn bachelor's degree degrees or associate degree degrees. Other degrees that we often see on chief estimator resumes include master's degree degrees or high school diploma degrees.

You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become a chief estimator. In fact, many chief estimator jobs require experience in a role such as estimator project manager. Meanwhile, many chief estimators also have previous career experience in roles such as estimator or senior estimator.

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Average Salary$91,652
Job Growth Rate9%

Chief Estimator Career Paths

Top Careers Before Chief Estimator

Estimator
17.2 %

Top Careers After Chief Estimator

Estimator
13.8 %

What is the right job for my career path?

Tell us your goals and we'll match you with the rights job to get there.

Average Salary for a Chief Estimator

Chief Estimators in America make an average salary of $91,652 per year or $44 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $130,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $64,000 per year.
Average Salary
$91,652

Best Paying Cities

City
Average Salary
Boston, MA
Salary Range82k - 142k$109k$108,538
Concord, CA
Salary Range77k - 147k$107k$106,575
Hillsboro, OR
Salary Range79k - 138k$105k$105,013
Little Rock, AR
Salary Range74k - 127k$97k$97,210
Colorado Springs, CO
Salary Range73k - 124k$95k$95,499
Jersey City, NJ
Salary Range72k - 125k$95k$95,157
$55k
$147k

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyCompanyStart DateSalary
*****Chief Estimator-Site Development****
*****Chief Estimator-Site Development****
Aerotek
Aerotek
10/23/2020
10/23/2020
$70,00010/23/2020
$70,000
Chief Estimator
Chief Estimator
Randstad
Randstad
09/15/2020
09/15/2020
$180,00009/15/2020
$180,000
Chief Estimator
Chief Estimator
Randstad
Randstad
08/14/2020
08/14/2020
$110,00008/14/2020
$110,000
Chief Estimator
Chief Estimator
Aerotek
Aerotek
06/26/2020
06/26/2020
$85,00006/26/2020
$85,000
Chief Estimator
Chief Estimator
Manpowergroup
Manpowergroup
06/17/2020
06/17/2020
$90,00006/17/2020
$90,000
See More Recent Salaries

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Chief Estimator Demographics

Gender

male

90.6 %

female

5.8 %

unknown

3.6 %

Ethnicity

White

81.9 %

Hispanic or Latino

10.8 %

Asian

3.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

56.3 %

Portuguese

18.8 %

French

12.5 %
See More Demographics

Chief Estimator Education

Majors

Business
17.4 %

Degrees

Bachelors

48.9 %

Associate

16.8 %

Masters

13.7 %

Top Colleges for Chief Estimators

1. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$9,816
Enrollment
21,047

2. New York University

New York, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,828
Enrollment
26,339

3. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$56,225
Enrollment
19,548

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,832
Enrollment
4,550

7. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,584
Enrollment
10,764

8. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition
$51,354
Enrollment
7,083

9. University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA • Public

In-State Tuition
$13,226
Enrollment
31,568

10. University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA • Public

In-State Tuition
$17,653
Enrollment
16,405
See More Education Info
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Top Skills For a Chief Estimator

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.8% of chief estimators listed construction projects on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and communication skills are important as well.

  • Construction Projects, 13.8%
  • Project Management, 8.0%
  • Cost Estimates, 6.6%
  • Design-Build, 5.5%
  • General Contractors, 5.2%
  • Other Skills, 60.9%
  • See All Chief Estimator Skills

Best States For a Chief Estimator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a chief estimator. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Chief estimators make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $131,081. Whereas in Vermont and Virginia, they would average $123,556 and $114,656, respectively. While chief estimators would only make an average of $112,593 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Vermont

Total Chief Estimator Jobs:
13
Highest 10% Earn:
$199,000
Location Quotient:
1.45
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Alaska

Total Chief Estimator Jobs:
9
Highest 10% Earn:
$191,000
Location Quotient:
1.31
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Montana

Total Chief Estimator Jobs:
19
Highest 10% Earn:
$165,000
Location Quotient:
1.53
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Chief Estimator Employers

1. Valleycrest Golf Course Maintenance
3.8
Avg. Salary: 
$93,579
Chief Estimators Hired: 
8+
2. Balfour Beatty
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$83,754
Chief Estimators Hired: 
6+
3. Morgan Buildings
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$97,229
Chief Estimators Hired: 
4+
4. Express Services Inc
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$91,338
Chief Estimators Hired: 
3+
5. Randstad USA
4.1
Avg. Salary: 
$89,925
Chief Estimators Hired: 
3+
6. Omega SA
3.6
Avg. Salary: 
$73,616
Chief Estimators Hired: 
3+
Updated October 2, 2020