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all about cost estimator jobs

As an estimator, your job combines elements of engineering with elements of accounting and finance. You're great at working with numbers, but you also enjoy project management and process engineering. Cost estimators perform cost analyses across a wide variety of platforms, saving their employers both money and time.

Are you interested in finding work as an estimator? Contact Randstad today. Our engineering division will help you find a job that matches up with your skills, personality and qualifications.

what cost estimator jobs entail

Cost estimators work full-time, usually in an office, though you may occasionally spend time in the field. Depending on the size of the company you work for, you may report to a manager, director or even your company's CFO. As you're dealing with large budgets and your companies finances rest on your shoulders there's a lot of pressure on you to get things right. As a result, you're highly detail oriented and take pains to be as accurate as possible.

average estimator salaries

Entry-level salaries for estimator jobs fall into a wide range, depending where you're located in Canada. Starting salaries range from as low as $45,000 in cities in various cities in Quebec, to as high as $70,000 in Toronto. With skill and experience, your salary can climb as high as six figures in strong markets.

Toronto and Calgary are the two best markets for cost estimators in Canada. The strong opportunities in these cities are likely due to the success of the manufacturing and oil and gas industries in these areas.

your day to day tasks

If you're a numbers person who is highly analytical and able to prepare precise cost estimates, a cost estimator job is right up your alley. It’s typical for you to be knee-deep in blueprints, documents, specs, and proposals, especially at the beginning of projects, though you may be involved in ongoing projects, too. Your days involve:

  • collecting and analyzing cost data
  • computing costs and estimating budgets
  • resolving cost discrepancies
  • summarizing your findings and making recommendations
  • maintaining budgets and spending
  • negotiating contracts with vendors
  • planning and allocating future budgets
  • presenting your budget proposals
  • creating cost and spending reports

where you can work

As a cost estimator, there are plenty of opportunities for you to choose from across Canada. Your unique skill set, which combines elements of business accounting and engineering is in high demand in a number of private and public industries such as manufacturing, oil and gas, construction and government.

Cities with a strong manufacturing or construction presence, such as Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto will have the highest demand for your skills and the most cost estimator jobs.

what you bring to the table

As an estimator, you will need to be excellent at math and calculations. Much of your day is spent poring over budgets, so there's little room for errors or miscalculations. You are:

  • excellent at math
  • extremely analytical
  • accurate and detail oriented
  • good with money and budgeting
  • a strong communicator
  • a problem solver

training and certifications

To obtain a cost estimator job, you should be comfortable with performing cost estimates, calculations and accounting functions. Most estimators are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree, in an engineering discipline, construction management, statistics, economics, or mathematics. An advanced degree such as a master's can also increase your employability.

Estimators typically have no trouble securing a job right out of school, though some programs offer internships and other co-op programs to help students transition into the workforce. You may find joining Professional Estimators groups is also helpful for your career.

where your career is headed

As a cost estimator, you can navigate into industrial management roles as your career progresses. Management positions that are a natural progression for you include operations manager or production manager. Keep in mind that these roles may require you to have a significant amount of experience.

You may also opt to pursue opportunities in the business management or finance departments. Your financial background and budgeting skills make it possible for you to consider a variety of opportunities in other industries.

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