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Career profile Cost Analyst

Also known as Acquisition Cost Estimator, Construction Estimator, Cost Analyst, Cost Consultant, Cost Engineer, Cost Estimator, Estimator

Cost Analyst

Also known as Acquisition Cost Estimator, Construction Estimator, Cost Analyst

Interests Profile
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional
  • Realistic
Pay Range
$40,380 - $114,360 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Mathematics
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mathematics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Building and Construction
Core tasks
  • Collect historical cost data to estimate costs for current or future products.
  • Consult with clients, vendors, personnel in other departments, or construction foremen to discuss and formulate estimates and resolve issues.
  • Prepare estimates used by management for purposes such as planning, organizing, and scheduling work.
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What does a Cost Analyst do?

Cost Analysts prepare cost estimates for product manufacturing, construction projects, or services to aid management in bidding on or determining price of product or service.

In addition, Cost Analysts may specialize according to particular service performed or type of product manufactured.

What kind of tasks does a Cost Analyst perform regularly?

Cost Analysts are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Collect historical cost data to estimate costs for current or future products.
  • Consult with clients, vendors, personnel in other departments, or construction foremen to discuss and formulate estimates and resolve issues.
  • Prepare estimates used by management for purposes such as planning, organizing, and scheduling work.
  • Analyze blueprints and other documentation to prepare time, cost, materials, and labor estimates.
  • Confer with engineers, architects, owners, contractors, and subcontractors on changes and adjustments to cost estimates.
  • Assess cost effectiveness of products, projects or services, tracking actual costs relative to bids as the project develops.
  • Prepare estimates for use in selecting vendors or subcontractors.
  • Set up cost monitoring and reporting systems and procedures.
  • Prepare and maintain a directory of suppliers, contractors and subcontractors.
  • Establish and maintain tendering process, and conduct negotiations.
  • Review material and labor requirements to decide whether it is more cost-effective to produce or purchase components.
  • Conduct special studies to develop and establish standard hour and related cost data or to reduce cost.

The above responsibilities are specific to Cost Analysts. More generally, Cost Analysts are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information
Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.

What is a Cost Analyst salary?

The median salary for a Cost Analyst is $66,610, and the average salary is $72,960. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Cost Analyst salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Cost Analysts earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Cost Analysts earn less than $40,380 per year, 25% earn less than $51,980, 75% earn less than $88,460, and 90% earn less than $114,360.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Cost Analysts is expected to change by 0.6%, and there should be roughly 17,800 open positions for Cost Analysts every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$40,380 - $114,360
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Cost Analysts?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Cost Analyst are usually higher in their Enterprising and Conventional interests.

Cost Analysts typically have very strong Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Also, Cost Analysts typically have very strong Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Cost Analyst tend to value Relationships, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Cost Analysts moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Cost Analysts moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Cost Analysts moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Cost Analysts must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and integrity.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Cost Analysts, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

What education and training do Cost Analysts need?

Many Cost Analysts will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Cost Analysts usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Cost Analysts

  • 3.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 21.2% completed high school or secondary school
  • 27.4% completed some college coursework
  • 11.3% earned a Associate's degree
  • 31.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 5.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Cost Analysts

Cost Analysts may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mathematics, engineering and technology, or building and construction knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Cost Analysts might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Building and Construction
Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Economics and Accounting
Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.

Important Abilities needed by Cost Analysts

Cost Analysts must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Cost Analysts need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and inductive reasoning in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Cost Analysts, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Mathematical Reasoning
The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Number Facility
The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

Critical Skills needed by Cost Analysts

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Cost Analysts frequently use skills like mathematics, reading comprehension, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Cost Analysts, ranked by their relative importance.

Using mathematics to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.