What is a Cost Estimator

When we purchase a product or avail of a service, we rarely think about the effort it takes to produce them. Products or services are not made overnight. There are processes involved in planning, manufacturing, and selling these items. Before products or services become available to the market, they go through various stages. One of the earliest stages involves estimating how much raw materials, time, and manpower it would cost to finish a product or service. This is where cost estimators come in.

Cost estimators are professionals who handle the collection, analysis, and assessment of data regarding the price of the raw materials, labor, and time needed to manufacture a product or create a service. Their job is important because it also determines how much the product or service can be sold to make it both profitable to the company and affordable to the customers.

Often, cost estimators specialize in a specific industry, product, or function. If this is interesting to you, you need to build up your industry knowledge and experience. You also need to be organized, analytical, and logical. Of course, you also need to be an excellent team player since you will be coordinating with people.

What Does a Cost Estimator Do

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a particular product or industry.

Learn more about what a Cost Estimator does

How To Become a Cost Estimator

A bachelor’s degree is generally required to become a cost estimator, although some highly experienced construction workers may qualify without a bachelor’s degree.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree. A strong background in mathematics is essential.

Construction cost estimators typically need a bachelor’s degree in an industry-related field, such as construction management, building science, or engineering.

Those interested in estimating manufacturing costs typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, or finance.

Training

Some newly hired cost estimators may receive on-the-job training, depending on their experience. Training may include learning a company’s cost-estimating software and techniques.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some employers prefer that construction cost estimators, particularly those without a bachelor’s degree, have previous work experience in the construction industry. For example, experienced electricians and plumbers can become construction cost estimators if they have the necessary construction knowledge and math skills.

Candidates interested in becoming cost estimators can also gain experience through internships and cooperative education programs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Voluntary certification can show competence and experience in the field. In some instances, employers may require professional certification before hiring.

The following organizations offer a variety of certifications:

  • American Society of Professional Estimators
  • Association for the Advancement of Cost Estimating International
  • International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association

Estimators must generally have at least 2 years of estimating experience and must pass a written exam to become certified.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Cost estimators consider and evaluate different construction and manufacturing methods and options to determine the most cost-effective solution that meets the required specifications.

Detail oriented. Cost estimators must pay attention to details, as minor changes can significantly affect the overall cost of a project or product.

Math skills. Cost estimators calculate labor, material, and equipment cost estimates for construction projects. They use software, such as spreadsheets and databases, and they need excellent math skills to accurately calculate these estimates.

Time-management skills. Cost estimators often work on fixed deadlines, so they must plan their work in advance and work efficiently and accurately.

Writing skills. Cost estimators write comprehensive reports, which often help managers make production decisions.

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  1. Faithful+Gould Jobs (54)
  2. Northrop Grumman Jobs (14)
  3. Harris Jobs (16)
  4. Lockheed Martin Jobs (32)
  5. Raytheon Jobs (23)
Average Salary
$71,945
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
10,749
Job Openings
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Cost Estimator Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Cost Estimator

Cost Estimators in America make an average salary of $71,945 per year or $35 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $105,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $48,000 per year.
Average Salary
$71,945
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5 Cost Estimator Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Cost Estimator Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Cost Estimator resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Cost Estimator Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. Faithful+Gould Jobs (54)
  2. Northrop Grumman Jobs (14)
  3. Harris Jobs (16)
  4. Lockheed Martin Jobs (32)
  5. Raytheon Jobs (23)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Cost Estimator Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Cost Estimator templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Cost Estimator resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume
Cost Estimator Resume

Cost Estimator Demographics

Cost Estimator Gender Statistics

male

76.3 %

female

23.7 %

Cost Estimator Ethnicity Statistics

White

79.8 %

Hispanic or Latino

12.6 %

Asian

3.8 %

Cost Estimator Foreign Languages Spoken Statistics

Spanish

37.1 %

French

12.4 %

Chinese

9.0 %
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Cost Estimator Education

Cost Estimator Majors

25.5 %

Cost Estimator Degrees

Bachelors

66.6 %

Associate

17.2 %

Masters

10.0 %

Top Colleges for Cost Estimators

1. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo, CA • Private

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

2. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

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

3. New York University

New York, NY • Private

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

4. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

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

5. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA • Private

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

6. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Private

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

7. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

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

8. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$18,454
Enrollment
40,108

9. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$50,530
Enrollment
4,571

10. Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$52,930
Enrollment
5,030
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Online Courses For Cost Estimator That You May Like

Projects Cost Management, Estimating, Budgeting and Control.
udemy
4
(955)

Learn how to estimate costs for any project, how to determine budget and how to use Earned Value Management tools. 3 PDU...

Construction Cost Estimating and Cost Control
coursera

This course introduces the types of cost estimation from the conceptual design phase through the more detailed design phase of a construction project. In addition, the course highlights the importance of controlling costs and how to monitor project cash flow. Students will work on a break-even analysis of construction tasks in a project...

Cost Reduction: Cut Costs and Maximise Profits
udemy
4.6
(462)

Cost cutting & cost reduction for a profit focused business...

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Top Skills For a Cost 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, 41.8% of Cost Estimators listed Facility on their resume, but soft skills such as Analytical skills and Communication skills are important as well.

  • Facility, 41.8%
  • Project Management, 8.2%
  • Construction Projects, 3.2%
  • Cost Analysis, 3.1%
  • Powerpoint, 3.0%
  • Other Skills, 40.7%

Best States For a Cost Estimator

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Cost Estimator. The best states for people in this position are Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Vermont. Cost Estimators make the most in Alaska with an average salary of $104,043. Whereas in Washington and Oregon, they would average $91,913 and $84,316, respectively. While Cost Estimators would only make an average of $83,622 in Vermont, 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. Oregon

Total Cost Estimator Jobs:
67
Highest 10% Earn:
$118,000
Location Quotient:
1.27
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. Washington

Total Cost Estimator Jobs:
105
Highest 10% Earn:
$128,000
Location Quotient:
1.13
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. Alaska

Total Cost Estimator Jobs:
11
Highest 10% Earn:
$118,000
Location Quotient:
1.03
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
Full List Of Best States For Cost Estimators

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Top Cost Estimator Employers

Most Common Employers For Cost Estimator

RankCompanyZippia ScoreAverage Cost Estimator SalaryAverage Salary
1$88,905
2$82,009
3$81,830
4$81,708
5$80,560
6$79,681