Cost Estimators

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Also known as:
Construction Estimator, Construction Job Cost Estimator, Crating and Moving Estimator, Electrical Estimator, Job Estimator, Production Cost Estimator

ABOUT COST ESTIMATOR CAREERS
Video transcript

Accurately predicting the cost of future projects is vital to the survival of any business, and that is why a good cost estimator is a valuable employee. Estimators analyze cost factors like materials, labor, location, and machinery. Then they report this information to company management.

Most cost estimators have college degrees, but many have years of related job experience. Sixty percent of the jobs are in the construction industry, where managers prefer degrees in building construction, construction management, civil engineering, or architecture. Another 26% work in manufacturing, and the rest in areas like design or consulting.

In the manufacturing sector, employers look for a college degree in mathematics, business administration, operations research, or engineering. Cost estimators rely on mathematical skills and the ability to quickly analyze detailed information, plus communication and interpersonal skills. They use computer software for complex calculations and to organize their data.

Although estimators normally work a 40-hour week, overtime and deadline pressure are common. In construction jobs, they may visit dirty work sites; in manufacturing, the factory floor. Frequent travel is common. Talented estimators are company heroes who win new accounts, earn profits, and gain rewards in higher pay and prestige.

SNAPSHOT
Prepare cost estimates for product manufacturing, construction projects, or services to aid management in bidding on or determining price of product or service. May specialize according to particular service performed or type of product manufactured.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Set up cost monitoring and reporting systems and procedures.

Conduct special studies to develop and establish standard hour and related cost data or to effect cost reduction.

Assess cost effectiveness of products, projects or services, tracking actual costs relative to bids as the project develops.

Establish and maintain tendering process, and conduct negotiations.

Review material and labor requirements to decide whether it is more cost-effective to produce or purchase components.

Consult with clients, vendors, personnel in other departments, or construction foremen to discuss and formulate estimates and resolve issues.

Confer with engineers, architects, owners, contractors, and subcontractors on changes and adjustments to cost estimates.

Prepare and maintain a directory of suppliers, contractors and subcontractors.

Collect historical cost data to estimate costs for current or future products.

Analyze blueprints and other documentation to prepare time, cost, materials, and labor estimates.

Prepare estimates used by management for purposes such as planning, organizing, and scheduling work.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Communicating with Persons Outside Organization Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Building and Construction Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Economics and Accounting Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
TOP SKILLS
Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Management of Financial Resources Determining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.