No matter in which industry the estimator works in he has to compile and analyze all the factors which may affect the expense of the project. The factors may vary in materials, workforce, machinery, duration, location, and time. He has to take into account minute details of the project expenses and accurately determine the cost and the expected turn over so that it becomes easier for the managers to carry on with the project or drop it.
The responsibilities of an estimator vary from company to company. For example, an estimator in the construction business has to pay visits to the site proposed, check the access to the site, availability of the water, transport facility, and other amenities like drainage and topography. He also has to determine the quantity of materials which would be required. He also looks into the details of the allowances to be made for the wasted materials, unfavorable weather conditions and the physical constraint of the site. After completing all the surveys he has to submit his report of the complete cost summary of the whole construction to the owner. At this stage only a final decision is taken. On the other hand the responsibility of the estimator in the manufacturing unit is restricted to the estimation of the cost in production which includes the cost of raw materials, labor, electricity, machinery depreciation, and packaging.
A computer plays a significant role in solving complex mathematical calculations that require advanced mathematical techniques. For example, to undertake a parametric analysis (a process used to estimate costs per unit based on square footage or other specific requirements of a project), cost estimators use a computer database containing information on the costs and conditions of many other similar projects. Obviously the entire process of estimation cannot be done by a computer, but to a great extent it can relieve estimators of the hard labor associated with time consuming, repetitive, and routine calculations. There is the latest and advanced computer software that provides efficient computation thus saving a great deal of time for the estimator to visit and analyze the project physically.
In the construction industry, employers increasingly prefer individuals with a degree in building science, construction management, or construction science, all of which usually include several courses in cost estimating. While in manufacturing industries, employers prefer to hire individuals with a degree in engineering, physical science, operations research, mathematics, or statistics or in accounting, finance, business, economics, or a related subject. Experience in quantitative techniques is seen with much significance in most of the industries.
Estimators also receive much training on the job because every company has its own way of handling estimates. A new estimator, having worked with an experienced estimator for some time, gradually becomes familiar with every step of the process of estimation. Since the job of the estimator includes reading construction specifications and blueprints of the project, a person having no experience is required to undergo certain training to learn these aspects of work.
Cost estimators should also have a high aptitude for mathematical calculations as his job calls for quick analysis, comparing, and interpreting the details. Assertiveness and self confidence, as well as good communication skills are to the advantage of the estimators. Knowledge of computers, especially in word processing and spreadsheets will stand to an advantage at the time of recruitment. As per the survey report cost estimators had 221,000 jobs last year. Among them 62% were in construction industry, 15% in manufacturing and the rest spread over the remaining wide range of industries.
Career opportunities in the field of estimators are fast increasing and are expected to increase by 19% in the forth coming 5 years. The construction industry employs most of the cost estimators. The growth of the construction industry in the next few years will cause the majority of new job opportunities for this occupation. The salary of the cost estimator varies from industry to industry and the size of the firm, and the experience of the estimators. The average annual earnings of the cost estimators in the last fiscal year were $52,940 as per the information supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In addition to job openings arising from employment growth, many additional openings should result annually in the field of cost estimators from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations due to the sometimes stressful nature of the work, or who retire or leave the occupation for other reasons.