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Become A Designer/Estimator

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Working As A Designer/Estimator

  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Designer/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.

Duties

Cost estimators typically do the following:

  • Identify factors affecting costs, such as production time, materials, and labor
  • Read blueprints and technical documents in order to prepare estimates
  • Collaborate with engineers, architects, clients, and contractors
  • Calculate, analyze, and adjust estimates 
  • Recommend ways to reduce costs
  • Work with sales teams to prepare estimates and bids for clients
  • Maintain records of estimated and actual costs

Accurately estimating the costs of construction and manufacturing projects is vital to the survival of businesses. Cost estimators provide managers with the information they need in order to submit competitive contract bids or price products appropriately.

Estimators analyze production processes to determine how much time, money, and labor a project needs. Their estimates account for many factors, including allowances for wasted material, bad weather, shipping delays, and other variables that can increase costs and lower profitability.

In building construction, cost estimators use software to simulate the construction process and evaluate the effects of design choices. They often consult databases to compare the costs of similar projects.

The following are examples of types of cost estimators:

Construction cost estimators prepare estimates for a building project. They may calculate the total cost of building a bridge or commercial shopping center, or they may calculate the cost of just one component, such as the foundation. They identify costs of elements such as raw materials and labor, and they may set a timeline for how long they expect the project to take. Although many work directly for construction firms, some work for contractors and engineering firms.

Manufacturing cost estimators calculate the costs of developing, producing, or redesigning a company’s goods or services. For example, a cost estimator working for a home appliance manufacturer may determine a new dishwasher’s production costs, allowing managers to make production decisions.

Some manufacturing cost estimators work in software development. Many high-technology products require a considerable amount of computer programming, and calculating the costs of software development requires great expertise.

Other workers, such as operations research analysts and construction managers, may also estimate costs in the course of their usual duties.

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How To Become A Designer/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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Designer/Estimator Career Paths

Designer/Estimator
Project Manager Owner/Operator Construction Manager
Senior Construction Manager
14 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager General Manager Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Estimator Estimator Project Manager Construction Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Estimator Estimator Project Manager Owner
Owner And Sales
7 Yearsyrs
Estimator Project Engineer Construction Manager
Vice President Of Construction
11 Yearsyrs
Estimator Project Manager Operations Manager Operations Project Manager
Senior Operations Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Engineer Superintendent
Project And Field Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Project Manager/Design Manager
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Operations Manager Operations Project Manager
Regional Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Facilities Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Sales Engineer Technical Sales Representative
Technical Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Engineer Project Superintendent
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Owner/Operator Construction Superintendent
Land Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager/Design Manager Design Engineering Manager Manufacturing Engineering Manager
Project Manager-Manufacturing
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Designer Project Architect
Construction Consultant
11 Yearsyrs
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Top Skills for A Designer/Estimator

  1. Shop Drawings
  2. CAD
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed shop drawings for construction and manufacture.
  • Designed plans and produced materials lists for residential and commercial renovations on DataCad system.
  • Assisted in store operations, including customer service, sales, and cash register transactions.
  • Provided direct technical sales to end-users, general contractors, and architectural/engineering firms.
  • Contacted and coordinated with project managers and vendors for developing design concepts and cost estimates for customer specific modified luminaries.

Designer/Estimator Demographics

Gender

Male

71.7%

Female

18.0%

Unknown

10.3%
Ethnicity

White

62.0%

Hispanic or Latino

18.0%

Black or African American

10.1%

Asian

6.2%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

52.0%

Portuguese

8.0%

Japanese

8.0%

French

8.0%

Italian

8.0%

German

4.0%

Carrier

4.0%

Russian

4.0%

Polish

4.0%
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Designer/Estimator Education

Schools

University of Houston

7.9%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

7.9%

Washington State University

6.6%

University of Phoenix

6.6%

University of Wisconsin - Platteville

5.3%

Sinclair Community College

5.3%

College of Southern Nevada

5.3%

Pennsylvania State University

5.3%

Weber State University

5.3%

Colorado State University

5.3%

Texas A&M University

3.9%

Illinois State University

3.9%

Community College of the Air Force

3.9%

National University

3.9%

Ohio State University

3.9%

Waukesha County Technical College

3.9%

Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg

3.9%

Henry Ford College

3.9%

Kent State University

3.9%

Art Institute of Pittsburgh

3.9%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

17.8%

Business

11.7%

Architecture

10.1%

Civil Engineering

7.9%

Interior Design

6.8%

Construction Management

5.7%

Electrical Engineering

5.2%

Landscape Architecture

4.4%

Mechanical Engineering

4.4%

Graphic Design

3.8%

Project Management

3.0%

Architectural Engineering

3.0%

Architectural Technology

2.7%

Property Management

2.5%

Engineering

2.2%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.9%

Applied Horticulture

1.9%

Fine Arts

1.6%

Computer Science

1.6%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

34.9%

Other

27.7%

Associate

22.9%

Masters

8.6%

Certificate

4.0%

Diploma

0.9%

Doctorate

0.6%

License

0.4%
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