Cost Estimators


Employment Prospects


Approximately 217,400 cost estimators are employed in the United States. Construction companies are the primary employers. Other employers include engineering and architecture firms, business services, government agencies, and a wide range of other industries.

Estimators are employed throughout the country, but the largest concentrations are found in cities or rapidly growing suburban areas. More job opportunities exist in or near large commercial or government centers.

Starting Out

Cost estimators often start out working in the industry as laborers, such as construction workers. After gaining experience and taking the necessary training courses, a worker may move into the more specialized role of estimator. Another possible route into cost estimating is through a formal training program, either through a professional organization that sponsors educational programs or through technical schools, community colleges, or universities. School placement counselors can be good sources of employment leads for recent graduates. Applying directly to manufacturers, construction firms, and government agencies is another way to find your first job. 

Whether employed in construction or manufacturing, most cost estimators receive intensive on-the-job training. Generally, new hires work with experienced estimators to become familiar with the work involved. They develop skills in blueprint reading and learn construction specifications before accompanying estimators to the construction site. In time, new hires learn how to determine quantities and specifications from project designs and report appropriate material and labor costs.

Advancement Prospects

Promotions for cost estimators are dependent on skill and experience. Advancement usually comes in the form of more responsibility and higher wages. A skilled cost estimator at a large construction company may become a chief estimator. Some experienced cost estimators go into consulting work, offering their services to government, construction, and manufacturing firms.

Tips for Entry

Tackle a real or fictious home repair job on paper by looking at all the steps and costs involved in the project.

Set up an interview or job shadowing opportunity with a mechanical or architectural cost estimator.

Read up on your favorite architect or inventor to discover the costs associated with their particular contributions.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings: