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Top 11 Cost Estimator Certifications

This article will provide an overview of the top cost estimator certifications available and their benefits.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications for a cost estimator in the job market are important because they demonstrate a level of knowledge, experience, and proficiency in the field. Employers often use certifications to evaluate potential candidates’ qualifications and make hiring decisions. Having a certification also shows potential employers that the candidate is committed to staying current with industry trends and best practices. It also provides employers with assurance that the candidate has attained a certain level of competence related to cost estimating. Furthermore, certifications can help distinguish cost estimators from other applicants and give them an edge over those without such credentials.

The purpose of the article is to provide an overview of the most beneficial certifications for Cost Estimators and explain how they can help enhance a cost estimator's career.

What are Cost Estimator Certifications?

Cost estimator certification is a professional credential that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and ability to accurately estimate costs associated with projects. The certification is offered by organizations such as the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) and the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE). To become certified, individuals must demonstrate their expertise in cost estimating through a series of exams, courses, and other requirements.

Having cost estimator certification can be beneficial for both employers and employees. For employers, it provides assurance that their staff have the necessary skills to generate accurate estimates for projects. It also demonstrates that they are committed to providing quality services and products. For employees, it gives them an edge when competing for jobs in the field and shows potential clients or employers that they possess the necessary knowledge to perform accurate cost estimation tasks. Additionally, having this credential can provide individuals with access to additional resources such as industry-specific conferences and training programs. Ultimately, cost estimator certification can help ensure that businesses complete their projects on time and within budget while providing employees with valuable credentials that make them more attractive job candidates.

Pro Tip: Before taking a cost estimator certification exam, it's important to ensure that you have all the necessary study materials and resources available. Also, be sure to set aside ample time to review the material and practice with sample questions in order to prepare yourself for the exam.

Related: What does a Cost Estimator do?

Top 11 Cost Estimator Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Cost Estimators today.

1. Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCEA)

Certified Cost Estimator/Analyst (CCEA) is a professional certification program offered by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI). It is designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and experience in cost estimating, cost analysis, and related disciplines.

The CCEA certification requires applicants to pass a written exam that covers topics such as cost estimation principles, methods, and techniques; cost management systems; project control systems; risk management; and ethical considerations. The exam takes approximately 4 hours to complete.

To be eligible for the CCEA certification, applicants must have at least five years of experience in cost estimating or a related field, with at least two years of experience in an independent role. Applicants must also submit three references from professionals in the field who can attest to their qualifications.

The CCEA certification costs $400 for AACEI members and $600 for non-members. There is an additional fee of $100 for late applications or those submitted without references.

2. Certified Professional Constructor (CPC)

Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) is a professional certification program offered by the American Institute of Constructors (AIC). It is designed to recognize and promote the highest standards of professional practice in the construction industry. The CPC certification is widely recognized as a mark of excellence for those working in the construction industry.

To become certified, applicants must have at least five years of experience in the construction industry and must pass a comprehensive exam. The exam covers topics such as project management, safety, legal issues, contracts, and more. Applicants must also complete an online application and submit official transcripts from their college or university.

The process typically takes several months to complete. Once an applicant has passed the exam and submitted all required documentation, they will receive their CPC certificate within 8-10 weeks.

The cost to obtain the CPC certification varies depending on which package you choose. The basic package costs $495 USD while the premium package costs $895 USD. Both packages include access to study materials, online practice exams, and an application fee waiver for up to two attempts at taking the exam.

3. Certified Cost Management Analyst (CCMA)

Certified Cost Management Analyst (CCMA) is a professional certification program offered by the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI). The CCMA certification is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated competency in cost engineering, cost management, and project control.

To obtain the CCMA certification, individuals must complete an application process that includes passing a written exam. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions covering topics such as cost estimating, project planning and scheduling, risk management, and earned value management. Applicants must also demonstrate at least five years of work experience in cost engineering or related fields.

The application fee for the CCMA certification is $400 USD for AACEI members and $500 USD for non-members. The exam fee is $200 USD for AACEI members and $250 USD for non-members. It usually takes between 6 to 12 months to complete the entire process from application to receiving your certificate.

4. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project Management Professional (PMP) is a professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is the most widely recognized and respected certification in the project management field. The PMP credential demonstrates that an individual has a comprehensive understanding of project management principles, practices, and processes.

It typically takes between 6-12 months to obtain the PMP credential. To get it, you must first meet certain eligibility criteria including having at least three years of experience leading and directing projects as well as 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects, or a bachelor’s degree and at least four years of experience leading and directing projects with 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects.

Once you have met the eligibility criteria, you can then apply for the PMP exam. The cost for taking the exam is $555 for members of PMI or $405 for non-members. You will also need to pay an additional fee if you choose to take a course or use other resources to prepare for the exam.

The exam consists of 200 multiple choice questions that are divided into five domains: Initiating (13%), Planning (24%), Executing (30%), Monitoring & Controlling (25%), Closing (8%). Once you have passed the exam, you will be awarded your PMP credential which is valid for three years before needing to be renewed.

5. American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE)

The American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) is a professional organization that promotes the highest standards of estimating practice, ethics and professionalism among its members. Founded in 1966, ASPE is dedicated to advancing the profession of cost estimating and providing educational opportunities for its members.

To become an ASPE member, applicants must have at least 5 years of experience in the construction industry as a cost estimator or related field. Applicants must also successfully complete a written exam and submit references from two current ASPE members. The application process can take up to 6 weeks to complete.

The annual membership fee for ASPE is $125 USD. This fee includes access to all online resources, discounts on publications and seminars, networking events with other professionals, and more.

6. Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA)

The Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) is a professional association for construction financial managers, controllers, and other professionals in the construction industry. CFMA was founded in 1981 to provide support and education to those working in the field of construction finance.

It takes approximately two weeks to get CFMA membership after submitting an application. To become a member of CFMA, applicants must have at least three years of experience in the construction industry or related fields and must pass a background check. Applicants must also complete an online application and submit payment for the annual membership fee. The annual membership fee is $195 for individual members and $395 for corporate members.

CFMA provides its members with access to educational resources, networking opportunities, certification programs, and discounts on conferences and events. Members also receive access to exclusive publications such as Construction Financial Management Magazine and the Construction Financial Management Handbook. Additionally, members are eligible for scholarships and awards from CFMA that can be used towards continuing education or research projects.

7. AACE International Certified Cost Engineer (CCE)

AACE International Certified Cost Engineer (CCE) is a professional certification offered by AACE International, an association for cost engineers, estimators and project managers. The CCE certification is designed to demonstrate the competency of cost engineering professionals in the areas of cost estimating, planning and control. It is intended to provide employers with assurance that certified individuals possess the necessary knowledge and skills to perform their job duties effectively.

To become certified as a CCE, applicants must have at least five years of experience in cost engineering or related disciplines, including three years of experience in a lead role. They must also pass an exam administered by AACE International. The exam consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and a written essay section.

The process of becoming certified typically takes between six months and one year depending on the individual’s schedule and availability to prepare for the exam.

The cost of obtaining CCE certification varies depending on membership status with AACE International. For non-members, the fee is $800 USD; for members, it is $400 USD. Additionally, there are fees associated with taking the exam ($200 USD for non-members; $100 USD for members).

8. American Institute of Constructors (AIC)

The American Institute of Constructors (AIC) is a professional organization that provides certification and education to construction professionals. It was founded in 1989 with the mission of promoting ethics, professionalism, and excellence in the construction industry.

To become a Certified Professional Constructor (CPC), it typically takes about two years to complete the requirements set by AIC. The first step is to join AIC as a member. Once you become an AIC member, you must meet the educational and experience requirements for certification. This includes completing at least four courses from an approved list of courses offered by AIC or other approved organizations, obtaining at least three years of documented construction experience, and passing an exam administered by AIC.

The cost for becoming a CPC varies depending on your membership status with AIC. For non-members, the fee is $400 for the application fee plus $150 per course taken through AIC or another approved organization. For members, the fee is $200 for the application fee plus $100 per course taken through AIC or another approved organization.

In addition to providing certification services, AIC also offers continuing education opportunities and provides resources such as webinars, conferences, publications, and networking events for its members.

9. Certified Construction Manager (CCM)

Certified Construction Manager (CCM) is a professional certification program offered by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA). The CCM designation is the only construction management certification accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) under the International Organization for Standardization's ISO 17024 standard.

The CCM certification program is designed to recognize those individuals who have demonstrated a mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively manage complex construction projects. It requires applicants to demonstrate their knowledge in areas such as project management, contract administration, cost estimating, scheduling and risk management.

To become certified, applicants must meet certain eligibility requirements and pass an exam that covers topics related to construction management. The exam consists of two parts: a written portion and an oral portion. Applicants must score at least 70% on both portions in order to be eligible for certification.

The process typically takes about six months from start to finish. To begin, applicants must submit an application and fee ($395 for CMAA members or $495 for non-members). Once approved, applicants will receive a study guide which they can use to prepare for the exam. After passing the exam, applicants will receive their official CCM certificate within four weeks.

In addition to the application fee, there are other costs associated with becoming certified such as travel expenses if attending an in-person review course or purchasing additional study materials.

10. Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI)

The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International (AACEI) is a professional organization that provides certification and education programs to individuals in the cost engineering and project management fields. AACEI was founded in 1956 and has grown to include over 8,000 members from more than 60 countries. The association's mission is to promote the advancement of cost engineering and project management through education, research, standards, publications, and professional development.

To become certified by AACEI, an individual must pass two exams: one on cost engineering fundamentals and another on project management fundamentals. Both exams are offered online or in-person at approved testing centers. The exams take approximately three hours each to complete.

The cost of becoming certified by AACEI depends on the type of certification sought. For example, the fee for a Certified Cost Engineer (CCE) designation is $350 USD for members or $400 USD for non-members. Additional fees apply for other certifications such as Certified Cost Professional (CCP), Certified Project Manager (CPM), or Certified Project Estimator (CPE).

In addition to certification exams, AACEI also offers educational courses designed to help individuals prepare for their certification exams as well as stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. These courses range from introductory level classes to advanced seminars and webinars led by experienced professionals in the field.

11. National Institute of Building Sciences Certified Quantity Surveyor (NIBS-CQS).

The National Institute of Building Sciences Certified Quantity Surveyor (NIBS-CQS) is a professional certification program that recognizes the expertise of quantity surveyors in the construction industry. The certification program is designed to ensure that quantity surveyors have the knowledge and skills necessary to accurately estimate and manage construction projects.

It typically takes about 6 months to become certified as a NIBS-CQS. To become certified, applicants must meet the following requirements: have at least 5 years of experience in quantity surveying, pass an exam administered by the National Institute of Building Sciences, and complete a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education courses related to quantity surveying.

To get certified, applicants must submit an application form with their supporting documents (e.g., resume, references, proof of experience) to the National Institute of Building Sciences. Once accepted into the program, applicants will be required to pay a fee for the exam and any continuing education courses they choose to take. The cost for this certification varies depending on the type of courses taken and other factors such as location and duration. Generally speaking, it can range from several hundred dollars up to several thousand dollars.

Overall, obtaining NIBS-CQS certification is a great way for quantity surveyors to demonstrate their expertise in their field and gain recognition from employers and peers alike.

Do You Really Need a Cost Estimator Certificate?

A cost estimator certificate can be beneficial to those looking to advance their careers in the field of cost estimation. With the right training and certification, individuals can become more qualified for jobs in this field and may even be able to command higher salaries. However, there are many factors to consider before deciding if a cost estimator certificate is necessary.

First, one must assess their current level of knowledge and experience in the field. Those with years of experience in cost estimation may not need additional certification as they may already have the skills required for a job in this area. On the other hand, those who are new to the field or are looking to make a career change will likely benefit from obtaining a certificate. It is important to note that some employers may require specific certifications for certain positions, so it is important to do research into position requirements prior to enrolling in any program.

Second, one should consider their long-term career goals when deciding if a cost estimator certificate is necessary. While having a certificate can open up more opportunities, it does not guarantee success. Individuals should take into consideration their desired job title and salary level prior to investing time or money into earning a certificate. A cost estimator certificate could help an individual reach their goals faster but it is not essential depending on the individual’s experience level and circumstances.

In conclusion, while there are many benefits to having a cost estimator certificate, it is important for each individual to evaluate their own situation before deciding if obtaining one is necessary or beneficial for them personally.

Related: Cost Estimator Resume Examples

FAQs About Cost Estimator Certifications

Q1. What is a Cost Estimator Certification?

A1. A Cost Estimator Certification is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual's knowledge, experience, and skills in cost estimating. It is designed to help organizations ensure that they are hiring qualified professionals with the right expertise to accurately estimate costs for projects.

Q2. What are the requirements for obtaining a Cost Estimator Certification?

A2. The requirements vary based on the certifying body, but generally include completing specific educational courses or programs, passing an exam, and having at least two years of professional experience as a cost estimator in order to be eligible for certification.

Q3. What types of jobs require a Cost Estimator Certification?

A3. Cost Estimator Certifications are required by some employers for positions such as project estimators, cost analysts, project managers, and other related roles in which accurate estimates of costs are necessary for successful completion of projects.

Q4. How long does it take to obtain a Cost Estimator Certification?

A4. The time it takes to complete the certification process depends on the certifying body and the individual's experience level; however, most certifications can be completed within six months to one year if all requirements are met.

Q5. Is a Cost Estimator Certification recognized internationally?

A5. Yes, many cost estimator certifications are recognized internationally by employers around the world who value the expertise that certified professionals bring to their organization.