Many accounting students searching for in-demand career paths wonder what a cost estimator does in accounting to determine if this fast-growing job is right for them. In short, cost estimators are responsible for quantifying the time, materials, and labor required to provide a service with the goal of estimating their company’s production costs. Since accurately predicting the cost of future projects is vital for profitability in today’s competitive business world, demand for cost estimators is expected to be strong. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment of cost estimators will skyrocket by 26% before 2022. But, before you jump into line for this booming career, the following is a job description to ensure becoming a cost estimator aligns with your accounting interests and skills.
What Cost Estimators Do
In order to prepare estimates for managers or investors, cost estimators must first review blueprints, collaborate with contractors, and travel to work sites to gather essential information on the materials and labor required to complete a certain project. Once they’ve identified cost factors, they’ll use statistical modeling software to calculate accurate estimates. Since projects are rarely free of any error, cost estimators include allowances for inclement weather, shipping delays, wasted materials, and other problems that could increase expenses. Then, cost estimators typically consult with leaders to discuss their estimates, resolve issues, offer suggestions on more cost-effective methods, and develop future project plans. Some cost estimators may also calculate total project costs to evaluate bids from subcontractors.
Where Cost Estimators Work
Cost estimators can bring their accounting skills to working in a variety of different industries to quantify the expenses of any product, project, or service. According to the BLS, the highest percentage of the 202,200 cost estimators in America are employed in the construction industry to estimate the costs of construction work with architects and engineers. Cost estimators can also find plentiful job opportunities available in the manufacturing, electronics, software development, technology, and aerospace industries. Some cost estimators find employment with government agencies to assess the cost-effectiveness of certain funded programs too. Cost estimators typically work full-time with overtime hours to meet critical deadlines and ensure money is not lost on projects that could’ve been profitable.
How to Become a Cost Estimator
Since cost estimators must possess heightened analytical, mathematical, writing, and time management skills to evaluate detailed project specifications, it’s no surprise that post-secondary education is almost always required for this position. Employers often prefer hiring cost estimators with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration, mathematics, or statistics. For those aiming to work in the construction industry, it’s recommended that you fill your electives with coursework in building science, architecture, and engineering to learn the lingo. After you have at least two years of estimating experience, consider pursuing certification from the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) to boost your professional prospects.
Related Resource: Government Jobs in Accounting
Overall, cost estimators are behind nearly every business endeavor to launch a new program, manufacture a new product, or construct a new building to estimate what it will cost companies to accomplish. Though the role is similar to a financial analyst, cost estimators draw the line at directly counseling businesses and individuals on investment choices. Now that you know what a cost estimator does in accounting, you can figure out if this is the best fit for using your training.