Cost Estimator

Job Description

Construction Cost Estimators gather and interpret data to help them estimate the time, money, labor, and materials needed for buildings, roads, and other projects. Their responsibilities include preparing estimates, recommending ways to save money, and maintaining records. Cost Estimators need to have excellent analytical and communication skills.

Typical Duties and Responsibilities

  • Collect and analyze data
  • Prepare estimates for buildings, roads, bridges, and other construction projects
  • Read blueprints and construction documents
  • Suggest ways to save money
  • Meet with clients, architects, and engineers
  • Maintain records of estimated and actual costs

Education and Background

Cost Estimators need to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer to hire candidates with a bachelor’s degree, ideally in a field such as construction management or engineering. Companies usually provide on-the-job training in industry-specific software, such as building information modeling (BIM) and computer-aided design (CAD). 

Skills and Competencies

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Time-management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Strong math and analytical skills to collect and interpret data
  • Ability to understand blueprints and contracts
  • Outstanding decision-making skills
  • Calm, professional demeanor
  • Keen attention to detail

Compensation

According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Cost Estimator with

1 year of experience:

  • Orlando, Florida: $70,000
  • Tampa, Florida: $75,000
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $72,000
  • Miami, Florida: $65,000
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $79,000
  • Chicago, Illinois: $88,000
  • Houston, Texas: $76,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $75,000
  • New York, New York: $77,000
  • Seattle, Washington: $78,000
  • Overall: $75,000

5 years of experience:

  • Orlando, Florida: $90,000
  • Tampa, Florida: $89,000
  • Jacksonville, Florida: $88,000
  • Miami, Florida: $75,000
  • Atlanta, Georgia: $86,000
  • Chicago, Illinois: $103,000
  • Houston, Texas: $90,000
  • Los Angeles, California: $90,000
  • New York, New York: $91,000
  • Seattle, Washington: $89,000
  • Overall: $89,000

Similar Job Titles

  • Auditor
  • Appraiser
  • Accountant
  • Budget Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager
  • Construction Manager
  • Claims Adjuster

Career Path

The first step to becoming a Construction Cost Estimator is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Students then should receive a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. Some employers want Cost Estimators to have previous experience in the construction industry, but they also frequently provide hands-on training for their specific needs. The American Society of Professional Estimators offers certification.

Position Trends

Population growth means that construction-related jobs, and Cost Estimators, in particular, will continue to be in demand. Maintenance, improvements, and construction of roads and bridges also will create more job opportunities. The emphasis on environmentally friendly development and energy efficiency should give the industry a boost as well.

Job prospects in the construction industry tend to ebb and flow with the economy. The Construction Management Association of America offers career coaching, a learning center, and job listings for candidates.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for Cost Estimators is expected to grow by nine percent for the next several years, which is faster than average. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree who earn certification will improve their career prospects.

Typical Hours

Cost Estimators typically work regular hours in an office environment, but they also visit construction sites to meet with people and gather information. Sometimes they might need to work more than 40 hours a week.

Where You Can Find Jobs

  • 4 Corner Resources
  • Career Builder
  • Glassdoor
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Monster
  • Zip Recruiter
  • American Society of Professional Estimators
  • Construction Management Association of America

Are You Interested in Becoming a Construction Cost Estimator?

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