|Number of Jobs:||67,500|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Construction Jobs||#1|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#31|
A product or service is nothing without the eyes, ears, and attention spans used to estimate how they will be manufactured, constructed, managed, and priced. These are just some of the challenges cost estimators meet daily. Virtually every endeavor that has a product needs someone to estimate what it will cost and analyze the reasons why, says Joe Wagner, vice president for the Board of the Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis. “You may estimate or analyze the costs of cars, aircraft, ships, software systems, bridges, electronics, manufacturing facilities, satellites, government programs, etc.,” he says. “You also may analyze what something is already costing, or why it is costing more or less than previously estimated.” Most cost estimators work in nonresidential building construction or for building equipment contractors. Unlike financial analysts, cost estimators don’t directly counsel businesses and individuals on making investment decisions. They collect and analyze data to estimate the time, resources, and labor required for product manufacturing or construction projects.
As companies continue their search for top-notch cost projections and cost-effective products and services, the need for cost estimators will rise. In fact, that Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment growth of about 36 percent between 2010 and 2020—much faster than the average for all occupations, and translates to more than 67,000 new jobs. Growth in construction and national infrastructure repair (including roads and subway systems) will also increase the need for effective cost estimators.
With an average salary of $58,460 per year, cost estimators wade at the deeper end of the construction-work earning pool. The best-paid earned an impressive $95,950 in 2011, while the lowest earners took in $34,510. The other finance-related jobs on our list,, oil and gas extraction, and lessors of real estate industries compensate cost estimators best. The profession’s highest-paid reside in the metropolitan areas of Fairbanks, Alaska, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Framingham, Mass.
While a four-year degree is not a requirement, a bachelor’s degree in construction management or building science and related work experience in accounting, finance, business, or economics will give applicants a leg-up on the job hunt. Job seekers interested in estimating manufacturing costs should pursue degrees in engineering, physical sciences, mathematics, or statistics. Shadowing a veteran cost estimator and on-the-job experience are good ways to gain experience in the field. Hands-on experience is particularly important, as it gives applicants the chance to see and learn how the company handles estimates firsthand.
Much like other construction jobs, cost estimators must possess a strong set of analytical and technical skills. Critical thinking, attention to detail, time-management, and strong speaking and writing skills are also important. Wagner says while it’s not too difficult to break into cost estimating, applicants should keep two crucial, job-search elements in mind: location and business-activity level. “Much of the cost world is oriented to major projects, programs, and industries,” he says. “You are much more likely to find a junior cost position in those places where large industrial or government projects and industries are located—particularly new and growing projects.” Wagner encourages applicants to hone in on industries or organizations that are in a build-up or growth phase. “These young and growing projects are where costing is a critical function in new developments, and where the most opportunities can be found,” he says.
|Stress Level||Above Average|