USA Career Guide- Cost Estimator

Education & Certifications needed to be Cost Estimator

Required education and training for starting toward a cost estimator career vary according to industry. Construction and manufacturing employers increasingly require at least a bachelor’s degree, but some employers may show preference to candidates with advanced knowledge, industry experience, or master’s degrees. Engineering, finance, accounting, business or a related discipline is typically preferred.


Certification is not mandatory but you can take it up to show your competence and experience in the field. Employers may require professional certification before hiring sometimes. The American Society of Professional Estimators, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Estimating International (also known as AACE International), and the Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis each offer a variety of certifications.

To become certified, estimators generally must have at least two years of estimating experience and must pass a written exam.

Pay of Cost Estimator

The median annual wage of cost estimators was $57,860 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,100, and the top 10 percent earned more than $95,620.

 Median annual wages of cost estimators in 2010

Heavy and civil engineering construction $64,730
Construction of buildings $60,490
Specialty trade contractors $58,660
Manufacturing $54,260
Repair and maintenance $50,300
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

Job Prospects of Cost Estimator

Employment of cost estimators is expected to grow 36 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Overall, good job opportunities are expected; those with industry work experience and a bachelor's degree in a related field will have the best prospects.
The need to have accurate cost projections will translate into more demand for cost estimators. Growth of the construction industry will create the majority of new jobs.

In manufacturing, those with a strong background in mathematics, statistics, engineering, or accounting, and knowledge of cost estimation software, should have the best prospects.

In construction, those with knowledge of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software are likely to have the best job prospects.

Industrial Overview of Cost Estimator

Cost estimators held about 185,400 jobs in 2010.
 The industries that employed the most cost estimators in 2010
Specialty trade contractors 36%
Construction of buildings 16 %
Manufacturing 15 %
Heavy and civil engineering construction 6 %
Repair and maintenance 6 %
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition

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