What is a Cost Estimator in Accounting?

cost estimator in accounting

Undergraduate business students looking for a growing and rewarding career may consider becoming a cost estimator in accounting. Cost estimators are trained accountants who focus on calculating the total price tag for an organization’s latest production. Accounting has several cost estimation methods to appraise how much time, labor, resources, equipment, and energy will be expended for a project. It’s their duty to advise management on the accurate costs spent to create product prices or bids that are profitable. Companies in various industries depend on cost estimators in their accounting department to deliver correct expenditure projections. Therefore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for cost estimators will grow faster-than-average by nine percent through 2024. Here’s what you should know before pursuing one of the 18,700 new jobs created for cost estimators in accounting.

Responsibilities Given to Cost Estimators

Cost estimators have the primary task of accumulating apt data to correctly determine the dollar signs spent to produce new projects. They may estimate the costs for producing everything from automobiles and airplanes to computers and buildings. Cost estimators balance the digits for nearly every business endeavor launched to ensure smart corporate investments. Cutting-edge statistical software is used to compare costs for several design options. Cost estimators strive to find ways to cut expenses while setting aside allowances should weather or shipping errors cause setbacks. Once the project begins, cost estimators track how the actual costs are aligning with their estimates. They’ll consult with managers to solve any discrepancies and stay gainful.

Typical Work Environment for Cost Estimators

The BLS reports that there are 216,270 cost estimators employed in various sectors across the United States. Over one-third of cost estimators work in accounting for construction and building equipment companies. Another large percentage holds pivotal positions in manufacturing firms, including chemical, textile, pharmaceutical, oil, metalwork, and agricultural. Cost estimators in accounting could also find employment in gas extraction, telecommunications, aerospace engineering, research & development, software publishing, and healthcare. Federal and state government agencies hire cost estimators to analyze funded programs too. The majority of cost estimators work full-time for 40 to 60 hours per week. Cost estimators primarily work in accounting offices, but travel to construction sites or manufacturing plants could be required.

Accounting Education Required for Cost Estimators

Becoming a cost estimator requires advanced mathematical skills that are typically earned in a bachelor’s degree program. Most cost estimators obtain a four-year accounting degree from accredited business colleges. However, some major in mathematics, finance, or statistics. Studying engineering could even be beneficial to better understand what’s involved in building projects. Internships and co-ops are essential for new cost estimators. Most employers require having at least two years of accounting-related experience. On-the-job training will be necessary to learn the company’s manufacturing lingo. Although it’s voluntary, certification can aid in faster promotion. For instance, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Estimating International (AACE) offers the Certified Estimating Professional (CEP) credential.


Overall, cost estimators handle several accounting duties to ascertain exactly how much money certain projects will cost companies to finish. The U.S. News and World Report recognized cost estimators for having America’s 14th best business job with good upward mobility. On average, cost estimators are rewarded with a yearly salary of $64,810, or $31.16 per hour. Being a cost estimator in accounting will allow you to shape company success by developing reliable estimates for project stakeholders.

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