What Does A Cost Estimator Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

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Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Cost Estimators

Cost Estimators 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.

Salary
$72960
Becoming One
Hard
Education
Bachelor's degree
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Personality
Interest Match





Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.Confucius

What they do

Cost Estimators 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.

  • Collect historical cost data to estimate costs for current or future products.
  • Consult with clients, vendors, personnel in other departments, or construction foremen to discuss and formulate estimates and resolve issues.
  • Prepare estimates used by management for purposes such as planning, organizing, and scheduling work.
  • Analyze blueprints and other documentation to prepare time, cost, materials, and labor estimates.

Typical day

On a daily basis, Cost Estimators analyze blueprints and other documentation to prepare time, cost, materials, and labor estimates. They consult with clients, vendors, personnel in other departments, or construction foremen to discuss and formulate estimates and resolve issues.

  • Assess the cost-effectiveness of products, projects, or services, tracking actual costs relative to bids as the project develops.
  • Collect historical cost data to estimate costs for current or future products.
  • Confer with engineers, architects, owners, contractors, and subcontractors on changes and adjustments to cost estimates.
  • Set up cost monitoring and reporting systems and procedures.
  • Prepare and maintain a directory of suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors.

Other responsibilities

Besides their typical day, Cost Estimators also visit the site and record information about access, drainage and topography, and availability of services such as water and electricity. They may also conduct special studies to develop and establish standard hours and related cost data or to effect cost reduction.

On a weekly to monthly basis, Cost Estimators set up cost monitoring and reporting systems and procedures. They might also prepare estimates used by management for purposes such as planning, organizing, and scheduling work.

In addition, they prepare and maintain a directory of suppliers, contractors, and subcontractors.

Although specific duties may vary, many of them prepare cost and expenditure statements and other necessary documentation at regular intervals for the duration of the project.

To some Cost Estimators, it is also their responsibility to collect historical cost data to estimate costs for current or future products.

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What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Average

Is this job meaningful

Low

68% said they were satisfied with their job and 44% said they found their job meaningful.


Kyle McCarney
Inflector Environmental Services

My name is Kyle McCarney, Junior Estimator at Inflector Environmental Services. I have been lucky to have been a part of the Inflector team since 2015. Close to a year ago, I was given the opportunity to begin my journey as a Junior Estimator.

My typical day

My typical day starts at 5:45 AM. I first get through any and all unaddressed emails. Once that is complete, I then finalize my Tender Closings for the day. I then begin to see what Public Tenders and Private Projects require pricing on our 2-week lookahead. Being a part of the Estimating Team, I have learned that staying ahead is crucial as you can be up to date, then receive multiple requests at any given moment.

The most timely task of my workday is reviewing Tender Packages and quantifying removals for forthcoming work. Pricing Projects can vary anywhere from 15 Minutes to multiple hours depending on the size and complexity of the Project and the reading involved to get a thorough understanding of the Project.

Aside from these daily tasks, another part of my job is communicating with project managers running the projects I have priced and clients who have any questions, who require our services, etc.

Pros

The pros of my job heavily outweigh the cons.

One of the pros my position and job provide me is the ability to collaborate with others. Whether it’s clients, colleagues, sub-trades, communication is vital. I believe I am surrounded by the best of the best when it comes to leadership and mentors. I have always felt that I am in the perfect position for growth and development as they continue to set a fantastic example of teamwork, treat colleagues, and so on.

Cons

The only con I could think of is the little free time I have. However, as a young, working student, that is expected, and I genuinely believe it builds character.

Kyle McCarney
Inflector Environmental Services


Pros

Suitable for people who like to start and carry out projects.

Suitable for people who value relationships between co-workers and customers and want to work in a friendly non-competitive environment.

This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.

Very good salary.

Cons

Not suitable for people who like to work with designs.

It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week).

How much do they make

Average salary

$72960 per year

Average hourly wage

$35 per hour

Entry-level Cost Estimators with little to no experience can expect to make anywhere between $40,380 to $51,980 per year or $19 to $25 per hour.

Salary by experience Annual Hourly
Highest (Top 10%) $114,360 $55
Senior (Top 25%) $88,460 $43
Median $66,610 $32
Junior (Bottom 25%) $51,980 $25
No experience (Bottom 10%) $40,380 $19

This table shows the top 10 highest paying industries for Cost Estimators based on their average annual salary.

Salary by industry Annual Hourly
Natural Gas Distribution $94250 $45.31
Software Publishers $92480 $44.46
Communications Equipment Manufacturing $92370 $44.41
Waste Treatment and Disposal $92230 $44.34
Securities, Commodity Contracts, and Other Financial Investments and Related Activities $90610 $43.56
Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services $90520 $43.52
Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing $89670 $43.11
Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution $89590 $43.07
Telecommunications $87890 $42.25
Couriers and Express Delivery Services $86440 $41.56

View more salary by industries here.

Where can they work

Where can Cost Estimators work? Here is a table showing the top 10 largest employers of Cost Estimators including the average salary in that industry.

Employers Total Employed Annual Salary Hourly Wages
Building Equipment Contractors 28380 $76800 $36.92
Nonresidential Building Construction 20520 $82480 $39.66
Foundation, Structure, and Building Exterior Contractors 17450 $72320 $34.77
Building Finishing Contractors 15990 $70340 $33.82
Residential Building Construction 14480 $69160 $33.25
Automotive Repair and Maintenance 13410 $62640 $30.11
Other Specialty Trade Contractors 10200 $73750 $35.46
Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 5680 $68610 $32.99
Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction 5570 $85260 $40.99
Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods 5240 $65680 $31.58

What is the work day like

Working hours

Less than 40 hours
0%

40 hours
45%

More than 40 hours
55%

Working schedule

50%

45%

5%

Work with group or team

How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?

Not important at all
0%

Fairly important
9%

Important
18%

Very important
18%

Extremely important
55%

Deal with external customers

How important is it to work with customers in this job?

Not important at all
9%

Fairly important
14%

Important
18%

Very important
41%

Extremely important
18%

Manage or lead others

How important is it to coordinate or lead others in completing work activities in this job?

Not important at all
5%

Fairly important
9%

Important
27%

Very important
41%

Extremely important
18%

Email

How often do you use email in this job?

Once a week
0%

Every day
100%

Telephone

How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?

Once a week
32%

Every day
68%

Group discussions

How often do you have group discussions in this job?

Once a week
41%

Every day
59%

Public speaking

How often does this job require you to do public speaking?

Never
0%

Once a year
50%

Once a month
23%

Once a week
27%

Every day
0%

Frequency of conflict situations

How often are there conflict situations in this job?

Never
9%

Once a year
32%

Once a month
36%

Once a week
23%

Every day
0%

Dealing with angry people

How often do you have to deal with angry, unpleasant, or discourteous individuals in this job?

Never
14%

Once a year
55%

Once a month
27%

Once a week
5%

Every day
0%

Dealing with physically aggressive people

How often do you have to deal with physically aggressive people in this job?

Never
91%

Once a year
9%

Once a month
0%

Once a week
0%

Every day
0%

Level of competition

How much competitive pressure is in this job?

Not competitive at all
0%

Slightly competitive
9%

Moderately competitive
9%

Highly competitive
55%

Extremely competitive
27%

Repetition in this job

How important is repeating the same type of task over and over in this job?

Not important at all
23%

Fairly important
5%

Important
14%

Very Important
18%

Extremely Important
41%

Impact of decisions on co-workers or company results

What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the reputation or financial resources of your employer?

No impact
0%

Minor impact
0%

Moderate impact
14%

Important impact
36%

Very important impact
50%

Frequency of decision making

How frequently do you have to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the reputation of the company?

Never
0%

Once a year
18%

Once a month
14%

Once a week
32%

Every day
36%

Responsibility for others’ health and safety

How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?

No responsibility
27%

Limited responsibility
41%

Moderate responsibility
18%

High responsibility
5%

Very high responsibility
9%

Responsibility for outcomes and results

How much responsibility is there for the work outcomes and results of other workers?

No responsibility
10%

Limited responsibility
19%

Moderate responsibility
29%

High responsibility
29%

Very high responsibility
14%

What is the work environment like

Office-style environment

Indoors in an environmentally controlled condition

Never
0%

Once a year or more
9%

Once a month or more
0%

Once a week or more
9%

Every day
82%

Warehouse-style environment

Indoors in a non-controlled environmental condition such as a warehouse

Never
50%

Once a year or more
14%

Once a month or more
18%

Once a week or more
14%

Every day
5%

Outdoors

Outdoors exposed to all weather conditions

Never
45%

Once a year or more
18%

Once a month or more
23%

Once a week or more
9%

Every day
5%

Outdoors – Under Cover

Outdoors but under cover (e.g. structure with roof but no walls)

Never
62%

Once a year or more
19%

Once a month or more
14%

Once a week or more
5%

Every day
0%

How to become one

Difficulty to become one

Hard
You will need a considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience. Careers in this difficulty category usually require a Bachelor’s degree and several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training. Similar careers include Database Administrators, Chemists, Art Directors, and Accountants.

Required level of education

What level of education do you need to perform the job?

Less than a High School Diploma
0%

High School Diploma or equivalent
5%

Post-Secondary Certificate
9%

Some College Courses
0%

Associate’s Degree or similar
5%

Bachelor’s Degree
64%

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate
0%

Master’s Degree
18%

Post-Master’s Certificate
0%

First Professional Degree
0%

Doctoral Degree
0%

Post-Doctoral Training
0%

Relevant majors

Business/Commerce

A program that focuses on the general study of business, including the processes of interchanging goods and services (buying, selling and producing), business organization, and accounting as used in profit-making and nonprofit public and private institutions and agencies. The programs may prepare individuals to apply business principles and techniques in various occupational settings.

Business Administration and Management

A program that generally prepares individuals to plan, organize, direct, and control the functions and processes of a firm or organization. Includes instruction in management theory, human resources management and behavior, accounting and other quantitative methods, purchasing and logistics, organization and production, marketing, and business decision-making.

Construction Engineering Technology

A program that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of engineers, engineering contractors and other professionals engaged in the construction of buildings and related structures. Includes instruction in basic structural engineering principles and construction techniques, building site inspection, site supervision, construction personnel supervision, plan and specification interpretation, supply logistics and procurement, applicable building codes, and report preparation.


Materials Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and materials science principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of materials and related processes used in manufacturing in a wide variety of settings; the synthesis of new industrial materials, including marrying and bonding composites; analysis of materials requirements and specifications; and related problems of system design dependent on materials factors.

Mechanical Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of physical systems used in manufacturing and end-product systems used for specific uses, including machine tools, jigs and other manufacturing equipment; stationary power units and appliances; engines; self-propelled vehicles; housings and containers; hydraulic and electric systems for controlling movement; and the integration of computers and remote control with operating systems.

Construction Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply scientific, mathematical, and management principles to the planning, design, and building of facilities and structures. Includes instruction in civil engineering, structural principles, site analysis, computer-assisted design, geology, evaluation and testing, materials, contracting, project management, graphic communications, and applicable laws and regulations.


Manufacturing Engineering

A program that prepares individuals to apply scientific and mathematical principles to the design, development, and implementation of manufacturing systems. Includes instruction in materials science and engineering, manufacturing processes, process engineering, assembly and product engineering, manufacturing systems design, and manufacturing competitiveness.

Relevant work experience

How much related work experience do you need to get hired for the job?

None
18%

1 month
0%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
0%

6 months to 1 year
9%

1 to 2 years
23%

2 to 4 years
9%

4 to 6 years
14%

6 to 8 years
5%

8 to 10 years
5%

Over 10 years
18%

On The Job Training

How much on the job training do you need to perform the job?

None or short demonstration
5%

1 month
5%

1 to 3 months
0%

3 to 6 months
10%

6 months to 1 year
24%

1 to 2 years
19%

2 to 4 years
19%

4 to 10 years
14%

Over 10 years
5%

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Leader

People with this personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.

The Builder
43%

People with The Builder personality type likes practical and hands-on work. They prefer working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.


The Thinker
38%

People with The Thinker personality likes to work with ideas that require an extensive amount of thinking. They prefer work that requires them to solve problems mentally.


The Artist
14%

People with The Artist personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.


The Helper
19%

People with The Helper personality type likes to work with people and in teams. They prefer work that allows them to build relationships with others.


The Leader
86%

People with The Leader personality likes to start and work on projects. They also like leading people and making many decisions.


The Organizer
86%

People with The Organizer personality type likes to follow set procedures and routines. They prefer working with data and details more than with ideas.


You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tend to like starting up and carrying out projects. They like leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk-taking and often deal with business.

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Take this quiz to see if this is the right career for you.

Work Values

Which values are the most important to a person’s satisfaction for this job?

Achievement
57%

You are someone who is results oriented. You prefer work that allows you to utilize your skills and abilities while at the same time giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Working Conditions
64%

You are someone who values job security, steady employment, and good working conditions. You also prefer work that keeps you busy all the time with something different to do every day.

Recognition
57%

You are someone who values job advancement and leadership roles. You prefer work that receives recognition for the work you do and jobs that are looked up to by others in the company and your community.

Relationships
67%

You are someone who likes to provide a service to others. You prefer a work environment where you can work with your co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Support
52%

You are someone who values a company that stands behind their employees. You prefer a work environment where everyone is treated fairly and is being supported by the company.

Independence
67%

You are someone who likes to work on your own and make your own decisions. You prefer work that requires little supervision and are allowed to try out your own ideas.

FAQ


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