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101R-19: Roles and Responsibilities of a Project Cost Estimator

101R-19: Roles and Responsibilities of a Project Cost Estimator
AACE International, July 10, 2019

Price: $0 (Member) / $100 (Non-Member)

This recommended practice (RP) is intended to serve as a guideline, not a standard. As a recommended practice of AACE International, the intent of the guideline is to define the required roles and responsibilities of a project cost estimator.

This RP also outlines the career progression of a cost estimator. Typically, most cost estimators begin as junior estimators with a limited focus depending upon the industry in which they are employed. For example, in construction, they may develop their skills around a specific trade or discipline of work (e.g., civil, structural, architectural, mechanical, electrical, etc.). As the estimator develops their skills, they progress to a senior estimator position and may be considered subject matter experts (SMEs) in multiple areas of estimating (e.g., multiple disciplines of work, quantity takeoff, pricing, bidding and analysis, change orders, life cycle analysis, value engineering, etc.). After mastering many areas within the estimating fields, the seasoned estimator may become the chief estimator of an estimating department or organization. Chief estimators may have company management duties such as: developing estimating standards and guidelines, training, and other management roles.

Project cost estimating requires knowledge of all elements of cost from project conception to completion (i.e. for all estimate classes). These may include direct material and labor costs, indirect costs, general administration costs, profit, finance costs, owner’s costs, startup costs, etc. For conceptual estimating the estimator must have historical knowledge and experience of the working asset, process facility, or function of the item being constructed or manufactured. The project estimator should have a strong knowledge of risk quantification and analysis. Project estimators may also be responsible for estimating operations and maintenance costs in support of life-cycle cost analysis. These skills and knowledge relate to various roles and responsibilities as the estimator progresses through their career. The estimator may progress from an entry level position to a chief estimator or estimating manager. It should be noted that estimators do not necessarily have to achieve the title of chief estimator or estimating manager, this is typically a management role, and some senior estimators may choose to remain in an estimating role without management oversight.

This RP outlines the roles and responsibilities of a cost estimator, based upon the knowledge, skill levels and years of experience as a cost estimating practitioner. This RP will outline the following:
  • Core estimating competency areas
  • Educational and/or experience levels
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Cost component knowledge
  • Cost engineering knowledge
  • Computer and software skills and knowledge

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