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Cost Estimator Salary (United States)

Cost Estimators in the United States ordinarily take home approximately $51K annually. Total cash compensation to Cost Estimators approaches anywhere from $32K on the lower end to $81K on the higher end; in exceptional cases, this can include more than $6K from bonuses and upwards of $5K from profit sharing. Geographic location is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by experience level. Most report receiving medical coverage from their employers and a majority collect dental insurance. Making up 76 percent of the field, male Cost Estimators greatly outnumber their female counterparts. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. Respondents to the PayScale salary survey provided the data for this report.
Cost Estimator Salary (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$35,857 - $82,784
(Median)
36K
43K
51K
65K
83K
MEDIAN: $51,257
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
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Cost Estimator Salary (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$12.64 - $28.97
(Median)
13
18
22
29
MEDIAN: $18.00
10%
50%
75%
90%
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National Salary Data

 (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$28K$56K$84K
Salary
$35,857 - $82,784  
   
Bonus
$0.00 - $5,776  
Profit Sharing
$205.11 - $4,965  
Commission
$0.00 - $14,681  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$32,166 - $81,373  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 835
National Hourly Rate Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$14$28$42
Hourly Rate
$12.64 - $28.97  
   
Overtime
$17.54 - $41.02  
National Annualized Data (?
XAll compensation data shown are gross, national 10th to 90th percentile ranges. Pay can vary greatly by location. To view local data, take the PayScale survey.
)
$0$28K$56K$84K
Bonus
$0.00 - $5,776  
   
Commission
$0.00 - $14,681  
Profit Sharing
$205.11 - $4,965  
Total Pay (?
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).
)
$32,166 - $81,373  
Country: United States | Currency: USD | Updated: 3 Sep 2014 | Individuals Reporting: 297
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Job Description for Cost Estimator

Whether the final product is a skyscraper or a tube of toothpaste, most companies need a professional to estimate the production costs for their products. A cost estimator predicts manufacturing price of a product using their analytical and technical skills. Their typical day includes analyzing labor, material, and time requirements for manufacturing proposals or construction blueprints to calculate the costs of production; they may also occasionally visit the site of production. As they are tasked with preparing cost estimates to ensure a projected project can be successfully and efficiently completed, they create cost-estimate reports and often make presentations to other members of the production team. Additionally, a cost estimator normally work alongside other professionals such as designers, architects, contractors, construction managers, and engineers.
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Cost Estimator Tasks
  • Make new cost estimates as project progresses, and discuss changes with engineers, contractors, and clients.
  • Conduct research to determine needs for personnel, machinery, materials, and other factors which affect costs.
  • Produce cost estimates for a project based on project plans and discussions with clients and engineers.
  • Analyze current processes, personnel, and materials to identify methods for reducing costs.

Common Career Paths for Cost Estimator

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While Cost Estimators rarely become Senior Estimators, the job usually pays $80K per year. Cost Estimators typically move into roles as Construction Estimators or Cost Estimating Managers, and those positions pay $2K more and $27K more, respectively.

Cost Estimator Job Listings

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Popular Skills for Cost Estimator

Cost Estimators generally report applying a varied skill set to their work. Most notably, skills in Financial Analysis, Construction Estimating, Project Management, and Microsoft Excel are correlated to pay that is above average. Skills that pay less than market rate include AutoCAD, Blueprints, and Microsoft Office. Those educated in Blueprints tend to be well versed in Microsoft Office and Construction Estimating.

Pay by Experience Level for Cost Estimator

Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Cost Estimators do not generally earn higher incomes from more experience in the field. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $45K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $54K. Cost Estimators claiming one to two decades of experience make an estimated median of $58K. Cost Estimators with more than 20 years of experience report incomes that are only modestly higher; the median for these old hands hovers around $60K. Workers in this area tend to have one to nine years of experience. Experienced employees who have 10-20 years of experience make up slightly less than one-fifth of the workforce; inexperienced individuals who have been working for less than one year comprise less than 10 percent, and senior people with more than 20 years under their belt fill out the remaining around a seventh.

Pay Difference By Location

San Francisco
up arrow 45%
Seattle
up arrow 43%
Washington
up arrow 21%
up arrow 19%
San Diego
up arrow 11%
Chicago
up arrow 9%
up arrow 8%
up arrow 7%
New York
up arrow 2%
Minneapolis
0%
National Average
$50,000
Atlanta
up arrow 7%
Fort Worth
up arrow 8%
Milwaukee
up arrow 8%
Akron
up arrow 10%
Larger circles over a city indicate a job is popular in that location.
San Francisco is home to an above-average pay rate for Cost Estimators, 45 percent higher than the national average. Also paying near the top of the field are Seattle, Washington, Houston, and San Diego, where Cost Estimators annually earn 43 percent, 21 percent, 19 percent, and 11 percent more than the national average. Akron is home to the smallest salaries in the field, lagging the national average by 10 percent. Employers in Milwaukee and Fort Worth also lean toward paying below-median salaries (8 percent less).

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Experience Affects Cost Estimator Salaries

National Average
$50,000

Skills That Affect Cost Estimator Salaries

Construction Estimating
up arrow 4%
Project Management
up arrow 1%
National Average
$50,000
Microsoft Excel
up arrow 1%
Microsoft Office
up arrow 3%
Blueprints
up arrow 4%
up arrow 6%

Job Satisfaction

Extremely satisfied Image
Extremely satisfied
Rated 5 out of 5 based on 236 votes.

Gender

Female
24%
female alumni
 
Male
76%
male alumni

Years of Experience

Less than 1 year
5%
1-4 years
37%
5-9 years
25%
10-19 years
19%
20 years or more
14%

Common Health Benefits

medical benefits Medical: 79% dental benefits Dental: 61%
vision benefits Vision: 46% employee benefits None: 19%