Become a Cost Estimator

Want to be a Cost Estimator? Get matched to a Degree Program for FREE!

Degree description image


A Cost Estimator uses data analysis to calculate price tags. Their skills determine the value of time, money, materials, and labor. Put together, these individual costs help predict bottom lines – key for businesses of every kind.

While cost estimators do use math there is more to the art and science of cost estimation. Cost estimation is part of the cost engineering profession. It involves both high level conceptual estimates and detailed level estimates. These forecasts help vendors and contractors work with managers and clients on things 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:

  • Building information modeling (BIM)
  • Computer aided design (CAD)
  • Accounting and statistics


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.  There are also colleges with master’s degree programs in construction management. These may prepare graduates to lead and handle more complex projects.

As a construction cost estimator, one may calculate anything from building a road or bridge to a shopping center or house. Construction cost estimators also assess costs of raw materials and labor and set time lines for project completion. Many work directly for construction firms, some work for contractors and engineering firms.

Median Salary: $64,040 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 9% (Faster than average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Manufacturing cost estimators typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, or finance.

As a manufacturing cost estimators one may compute the costs to develop, produce or redesign any goods or services. For example, a cost estimator working for an auto manufacturer may assess a new car model’s production cost. This allows managers to make informed production decisions.

Median Salary: $64,040 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 9% (Faster than average)

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.

Median Salary: $76,220 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 4% (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.

Median Salary: $83,390 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 26% (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.

Median Salary: $70,500 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 6% (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.

Median Salary: $74,600 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 5% (As fast as average)

Common Entry level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Financial managers often have at least a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration. Investment professionals who strive to attain industry certification such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) need at least a bachelors degree as well.

Today’s employers also seek financial managers a masters degree in business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. These graduate programs may help students develop deeper analytical skills. They might also instruct students in more advanced financial analysis methods and related software.

Median Salary: $127,990 per year

Job Growth Through 2028: 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.

© Education Connection 2023. All Rights Reserved.


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

Disclosure: EducationDynamics receives compensation for the featured schools on our websites (see “Sponsored Schools” or “Sponsored Listings” or “Sponsored Results”).  So what does this mean for you? Compensation may impact where the Sponsored Schools appear on our websites, including whether they appear as a match through our education matching services tool, the order in which they appear in a listing, and/or their ranking.  Our websites do not provide, nor are they intended to provide, a comprehensive list of all schools (a) in the United States (b) located in a specific geographic area or (c) that offer a particular program of study.  By providing information or agreeing to be contacted by a Sponsored School, you are in no way obligated to apply to or enroll with the school.

This is an offer for educational opportunities, not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. The financial aid information on this site is for informational and research purposes only and is not an assurance of financial aid.

1 You must apply for a new loan each school year. This approval percentage is based on students with a Sallie Mae undergraduate loan in the 2018/19 school year who were approved when they returned in 2019/20. It does not include the denied applications of students who were ultimately approved in 2019/20.

2 This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with new loans that disburse between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2022. Borrowers are not eligible to activate the benefit until July 1, 2021. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. Chegg Study® offers expert Q&A where students can submit up to 20 questions per month. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

Sponsored Results

Study anywhere. Study any time.

Join the millions earning their degrees online.

7 million undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in some form of online education in 2019!*