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Become An Estimator

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Working As An 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

  • $71,000

    Average Salary

What Does An 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 An 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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Estimator Jobs

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Estimator Career Paths

Estimator
Construction Manager Operations Manager Branch Manager
Assistant Vice President
7 Yearsyrs
Service Advisor Account Manager Sales Account Manager
Business Development Account Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager Product Manager
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Estimator Project Manager Project Manager General Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Co-Owner Accountant Senior Auditor
Controls Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Construction Manager General Manager Property Manager
Director Of Property Management
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager General Manager Account Executive
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Account Executive Director Of Sales
Director Of Sales And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Operations Director Director Of Facilities
Director, Facilities & Operations
6 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Manager Facilities Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Estimator Estimator Project Manager Operations Manager
Regional Operation Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Purchasing Manager Operations Manager Operations Project Manager
Regional Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Program Manager Product Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Account Executive
Sales/Marketing
5 Yearsyrs
Specialist Accountant Cost Analyst
Senior Cost Analyst
7 Yearsyrs
Estimator Project Manager Construction Manager Operations Manager
Senior Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Security Officer Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Engineering Manager Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Account Manager Purchasing Manager
Subcontracts Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Project Manager Program Director Operations Manager
Supply Chain Manager
10 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Printing Estimator 4.9 years
Chief Estimator 4.9 years
Senior Estimator 4.8 years
Job Estimator 4.6 years
Estimating Manager 4.3 years
Cost Estimator 3.7 years
Building Estimator 3.7 years
Designer/Estimator 3.5 years
Engineer/Estimator 3.3 years
Project Estimator 3.3 years
Auto Job Estimator 3.3 years
Millwork Estimator 3.3 years
Shop Estimator 3.1 years
Estimator 3.0 years
Top Careers Before Estimator
Owner 6.3%
Manager 4.6%
Internship 3.4%
Foreman 3.3%
Supervisor 3.0%
Top Careers After Estimator
Owner 6.2%
Manager 3.6%
Consultant 2.5%

Do you work as an Estimator?

Estimator Demographics

Gender

Male

79.6%

Female

18.7%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

62.8%

Hispanic or Latino

15.4%

Black or African American

10.8%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

66.2%

French

6.8%

German

4.0%

Mandarin

2.5%

Russian

2.2%

Carrier

2.2%

Italian

2.2%

Chinese

2.2%

Cantonese

2.2%

Portuguese

1.8%

Japanese

1.8%

Arabic

1.4%

Filipino

1.1%

Polish

1.1%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Turkish

0.4%

Shona

0.4%

Gujarati

0.4%

Hindi

0.4%

Dutch

0.4%
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Estimator Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.0%

Auburn University

7.0%

Purdue University

7.0%

Ferris State University

5.8%

Texas A&M University

5.6%

Colorado State University

5.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.8%

University of Houston

4.7%

Iowa State University

4.7%

University of Florida

4.3%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

4.0%

Michigan State University

4.0%

Arizona State University

3.8%

Greenville Technical College

3.8%

University of Southern Mississippi

3.7%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.7%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

3.7%

Florida International University

3.5%

Liberty University

3.5%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.5%
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Majors

Business

25.5%

Construction Management

14.3%

Civil Engineering

8.9%

Drafting And Design

5.6%

Management

4.7%

Accounting

4.4%

Mechanical Engineering

3.4%

General Studies

3.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.0%

Project Management

3.0%

Architecture

2.9%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Education

2.5%

Marketing

2.4%

Automotive Technology

2.3%

Computer Science

2.3%

Industrial Technology

2.2%

Psychology

2.2%

Engineering

2.2%

Finance

2.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.1%

Other

29.3%

Associate

14.6%

Masters

8.2%

Certificate

4.5%

Diploma

1.3%

License

0.5%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Real Estimator Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Estimator III HNTB Corporation Newark, NJ May 18, 2015 $110,000
Estimator Integral Contracting Inc. New York, NY Nov 21, 2016 $110,000
Estimator WHC, LLC Houston, TX Jun 22, 2015 $110,000
Estimator III Weston Solutions, Inc. Columbia, MO Sep 27, 2016 $108,003
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Sep 27, 2016 $105,000
Estimator Technip USA, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $105,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Sep 16, 2015 $105,000
Estimator Crossland Mechanical Inc. New York, NY Sep 23, 2016 $100,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Sep 07, 2015 $100,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Dec 09, 2016 $100,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Jan 03, 2016 $100,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Sep 12, 2015 $100,000
Estimator Crossland Mechanical Inc. New York, NY May 10, 2015 $100,000
BIM Estimator Balfour Beatty Construction, LLC San Diego, CA Feb 09, 2016 $74,200
Estimator Andres Construction Services LLC Dallas, TX Feb 22, 2016 $74,000
VDC Estimator Clayco, Inc. Chicago, IL Oct 28, 2016 $73,000
Estimator MPS South Plainfield, LLC New York, NY Jun 12, 2016 $71,457
Estimator ICS Builders, Inc. New York, NY May 11, 2015 $70,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Mar 16, 2016 $70,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Feb 06, 2015 $70,000
Estimator J.T. Magen & Company, Inc. New York, NY Jun 05, 2015 $70,000
Concrete Estimator The Lane Construction Company La Plata, MD Oct 18, 2016 $59,738 -
$65,998
Estimator Rogers-O'Brien Construction Company, Ltd. Austin, TX Aug 26, 2016 $58,510 -
$65,000
Estimator Zachry Construction Corporation San Antonio, TX Jun 08, 2016 $58,000
Estimator Zachry Construction Corporation San Antonio, TX Mar 08, 2016 $58,000
Estimator Cadence McShane Construction Company LLC Austin, TX Feb 22, 2015 $57,054 -
$75,000
Estimator Beachside Roofing, LLC Kapolei, HI Jun 19, 2015 $56,000

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR An Estimator

Average Yearly Salary
$71,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$43,000
Min 10%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$71,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Safeguard Scientifics
Highest Paying City
Deer Park, TX
Highest Paying State
Louisiana
Avg Experience Level
3.1 years
How much does an Estimator make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Estimator in the United States is $71,264 per year or $34 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $43,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $117,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of an Estimator?

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Top Skills for An Estimator

  1. General Contractors
  2. Project Management
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Worked with general contractors estimating subcontract agreements for the installation of commercial building products.
  • Direct and prepare specifications and big documents under the general direction of engineering or project management staff.
  • Utilized exceptional product knowledge, customer service and integrity to consistently exceed identified sales goals in the carpet department.
  • Created a new upfront billing system to utilize with the insurance companies, with minimal direction from the owner in 2011.
  • Key Responsibilities: -Prepare estimates based on customer specifications received from Sales Department.

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Top 10 Best States for Estimators

  1. Alaska
  2. Hawaii
  3. District of Columbia
  4. Wyoming
  5. Virginia
  6. Washington
  7. Rhode Island
  8. Texas
  9. North Dakota
  10. Massachusetts
  • (9 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (153 jobs)
  • (118 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (330 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)

Top Estimator Employers

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Jobs From Top Estimator Employers

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