To work as a cost estimator, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- have a bachelor's degree.
Education after high school
Educational requirements vary by industry. In the construction industry, a college degree is not required. However, employers increasingly prefer cost estimators with a bachelor's degree. If you want to work in the construction industry, recommended areas of study are architecture, construction management, construction science, and engineering.
A bachelor's degree is more likely to be required in the manufacturing industry. Recommended majors for this industry are business management, engineering, and manufacturing technology.
Some of these majors, such as construction management, include cost estimating as part of the course work. You can also take classes in cost estimating at many technical schools, community colleges, or universities.
Most construction cost estimators have years of experience working in carpentry, plumbing, or other trades.
You can get experience on a construction crew or in a manufacturing plant while you are in college. These jobs help you become familiar with the steps, materials, and procedures used in the work.
Cost estimators receive training on the job. This is because each employer has its own costing methods and standards. As a new estimator, you assist experienced workers with routine tasks. This way you become familiar with the steps in estimating costs. You go to job sites or the factory floor and observe the work. You learn to take measurements, calculate the amount of materials from blueprints, and research material prices. Training may last up to one year.