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How to Become a Cost Analyst

Career News May 27, 2014

Can you memorize pricing and inventory data with ease? Are you good with numbers and record keeping? Most of all, do you love traveling and interacting with other people? A cost analyst position may be the job for you.

Cost Analyst’s Role

A cost analyst or estimator is a professional who visits companies directly, perhaps in construction or on the factory floor, so that he or she can make educated decisions about cost. Right away, you can tell this is travel-friendly work and your lifestyle must accommodate this feature.

Your job position involves inspecting the site, discussing strategies, and covering facts with engineers and architects. Your goal is to find out how much money all of these details cost the business. Inaccurate estimates cost millions of dollars a year for small businesses and even greater amounts in corporate, multinational companies.

If you are hired, your daily routine will consist of identifying these factors and reading blueprints in order to prepare an official estimate. You may also have to seek outside help from industry experts if you have an issue to resolve. Computer skills, mathematical ability, and organizational skills go a long way in this type of work. Projecting future costs, including expansion or long-term aging, is another facet of cost estimation.

The company is counting on you to make an accurate projection. Without you, they may lose money and compromise their budget. As if that’s not enough to deal with, there’s also the unpredictability factor that—yes, of course—you have to predict! You have to consider bad weather, shipping problems outside of your jurisdiction, and many other costs that can affect profitability.

Skills and Education

When a hiring executive reads your resume, they will be looking for formal training in an accredited school and the skills you bring to the table. Your work experience is also valuable, but it’s all about what skills you learn from the work experience. If you learn management, or cost estimating, practices from a five-year work history, that’s a positive. Long work hours also introduce you to new computer software, database management and other technicalities you are expected to know.

A bachelor’s degree is most often recommended as a starting point, although extensive experience in construction or manufacturing may suffice for a job. This isn’t a manager’s role necessarily; college is not the most important factor; experience is what counts. Still, you never lose points in the hiring process by showcasing your degree in a mathematics related field. For the coursework, always focus on the most relevant field, such as finance, business, or accounting.

Work experience is desirable, and even an internship in school is better than just textbook knowledge alone. Some companies even hire electricians and plumbers as cost estimators because of their expertise in pricing labor and materials. Lastly, don’t forget about certification, which is offered by the American Society of Professional Estimators.

You can start charting a course to a successful life by seeking higher education now. Plan for your long-term future with the help from a local university or schools listed below.

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Quick Fact
In 2017, workers with a bachelor's degree or higher had almost twice as much
median earnings per week than workers with only a high school diploma*.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics

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