Become a Cost Estimator

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A Cost Estimator leverages data analysis to craft pricing evaluations, crucial in determining the value of time, finances, materials, and labor. The amalgamation of these individual costs significantly influences forecasting, a vital element for businesses spanning diverse industries.

While mathematical calculations form the foundation of a cost estimator’s work, the realm of cost estimation extends beyond numerical computation. It’s part of the larger domain of cost engineering, encompassing a spectrum from broad conceptual estimations to intricate, detailed projections. These predictions facilitate collaboration between vendors, contractors, managers, and clients on matters such as:

  • Budget
  • Performance of any project
  • Project scope – Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) & Cost Breakdown Structure (CBS)
  • Assumptions – Basis of Estimate (BOE)

With applications for products, services and construction, many cost estimators choose a niche. This is particularly helpful when it comes to learning industry specific software and other methods. For example, this may include:


Some common courses include:

Cost Estimating and Bidding: Learn how to predict costs and bid for a fair price. In this course, you may learn methods for finding the best combo of unit price, volume, and cost.

Construction Cost Estimating: This course may cover what you need to know to predict what a building project will cost. That could include how to read blueprints, find unit costs, and more.

Computer Methods for Cost Analysis: Technology can help estimators figure out project costs in more detail. In a course like this, you could learn the tech tools and skills you need.

Construction Materials: In this course, you could get to know the items and parts used in building projects. That includes both inside and outside materials.



Construction cost estimators typically need a bachelor’s degree in construction management or engineering. Some colleges offer master’s programs, preparing graduates for leadership roles. In this role, tasks include calculating costs for various projects and evaluating expenses for materials and labor. While some work directly for construction firms, others find roles in contractor and engineering firms.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $74,740 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: -3% (Decline)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


To become a manufacturing cost estimator, a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, or finance is typically needed. In this role, responsibilities include calculating costs related to the development, production, or redesign of goods or services. For example, a cost estimator working for an auto manufacturer might assess the production costs of a new car model, offering crucial insights for managerial decision-making.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $74,740 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: -3% (Decline)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Budget analysts may have a bachelors degree in one of many areas including accounting, finance, business, public administration, economics, statistics.

As a budget analyst, one needs strong numerical and analytical skills. Studies often center around courses in accounting, economics and statistics.

Government budget analysts may also earn the Certified Government Financial Manager credential from the Association of Government Accountants. Maintaining said credential requires 80 hours of continued education every 2 years.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $84,940 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 3% (As fast as average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Many operations research analysts today have a masters degree in engineering, computer science, analytics, or math. Though, BLS tells that most entry level workers have a bachelors degree.

As an operations research analyst, you will identify and solve problems with advanced math, statistics and computer analytics. The skills of operations research analysts are used in areas such as business, logistics and health care.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $83,640 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 23% (Much faster than average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Accountants may get started with a bachelors degree. However, to bridge the gap of credits needed to pursue a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential, many pursue a Masters in Accounting or MBA.

As an accountant, one may assess and prepare taxes and financial records. This works to ensure the financial health of businesses and organizations. Also, within this dynamic field, many accountants choose a niche within which to apply their skills. Forensic accounting and cost accounting are two examples.

Many accredited colleges and universities offer concentrations so that students may line up studies with interests.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $79,880 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 4% (As fast as average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Some logisticians may get started with an associates degree. However, due to the complexity of supply chains, a bachelors degree in business, systems engineering, or supply chain management is more common. Masters and MBA in Supply Chain Management are also available.

Logisticians understand how to analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain. These individuals manage the entire life cycle of a product from design to disposal.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $79,400 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 18% (Much faster than average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Financial managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. For investment professionals aiming for industry certifications like Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite.

Presently, employers often prefer financial managers with a master’s degree in business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. These advanced graduate programs aid students in cultivating enhanced analytical abilities and delve into more intricate financial analysis techniques and relevant software applications.

According to 2023 BLS data:

Median Salary: $156,100 per year

Job Growth Through 2032: 16% (Much faster than average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Boost your skills and knowledge to become a cost estimator. Many accredited colleges and universities offer online degrees in the areas discussed in this article. Online degrees add a level of convenience for the at work professional or busy adult learner. Use the tools on this page to get matched with a school, subject, degree and format today.

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Sources for school statistics is the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

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