2017 Cost Estimators
Median Pay: US$60,390
Entry Level: Bachelor's degree
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.

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.

Construction Chief Estimator

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
JOB DUTIES & DESCRIPTIONThe statements contained in this job description are intended to describe the general content and requirements for performance of this job. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all job duties, responsibilities and requirements. Others duties may be assigned....
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Coeur d'Alene, ID

Estimating Intern

Type: Internship
Estimating Interns assist Senior Estimators in the administration of bid development, while building a strong foundation for individual career growth. Interns' duties include construction scheduling, cost tracking and material pricing. A typical week is divided between office and field...
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Virginia Beach, VA


Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
The Estimator is responsible for the accurate takeoff and pricing of the work, including all direct and indirect costs for heavy/civil/roadway/marine projects. The Estimator directs all estimators working on the bid, manages the preparation of a pre-bid schedule, and assists with contacting,...
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Electrical Estimator

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Who We Are:Webcor employs people of integrity and passion to build diverse, high-profile, and innovative structures for our clients. Webcor was founded in San Francisco in 1971. We are still headquartered in San Francisco and are committed to growing throughout California (and beyond). Through...
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San Francisco, CA

Wind Estimator

Type: Full Time, Full Time Alumnus
Requisition ID: 75544Primary ResponsibilitiesDevelop complete estimates for very large, complex wind farm projects.Know and understand the strategy on how to be the low bidderMust read the specifications and develop notes for the unique or extraordinary items.Make it a priority to know the estimate...
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