Construction, Installation, Maintenance, and Repair
Required Education, Credentials, and Licenses
- Bachelor’s degree or 3-5 years of work experience
- Interpreting technical project documents
- Written communication
- Computer literate
Cost estimators are responsible for all aspects of project estimation. They assess the amount and value of labor, materials, and time needed to complete renovation and new construction projects. Within the HVAC/R field, they produce estimates for the installation, maintenance, repair, and replacement of complete HVAC/R systems or certain components.
Cost estimators review and interpret project proposals, specifications, blueprints, and drawings, and they use those documents to estimate the quantity of materials and supplies that will be used in the project, the duration of the project, and the amount of labor needed (including costs associated with subcontractors). These factors will vary depending on the type of HVAC/R system, so cost estimators need to understand the differences between fossil fuel-based systems and more energy efficient technologies, such as variable refrigerant flow systems and air or ground source heat pumps. They need to be detail-oriented and have strong math skills to accurately price the project resources and calculate the cost estimates. Analytical skills are important, as they need to make cost-effective decisions.
Cost estimators need to be organized and able to manage their time well to effectively juggle multiple tasks and meet deadlines. They use word processing, spreadsheet, and estimating software programs to complete their job duties, so cost estimators should be comfortable using computers. Effective writing skills are critical to prepare quality estimation and other types of reports. Interpersonal skills are important for maintaining positive relationships with clients, vendors (of equipment and supplies), contractors, engineers, and other workers who may collaborate on a project.
Cost estimators typically work in offices but sometimes need to visit worksites. Most work on a full-time basis during standard business hours.
According to the New York State Department of Labor, there are approximately 8,600 cost estimators in New York State, and opportunities for employment are expected to be favorable through 2028 – the Department projects this occupation to grow by 790 jobs between 2018 and 2028.
Entering the Field
A bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in an industry-related field is usually needed to become a cost estimator. Some of the necessary skills are acquired through on-the-job training within the first year. In the HVAC field, workers without a bachelor’s degree need to have three to five years of experience in HVAC technology to qualify for the job. A bachelor’s degree is often required when job responsibilities involve providing estimates for commercial HVAC or refrigeration projects.
In New York State, the median wage for cost estimators is approximately $73,800. Entry-level workers earn about $49,900 and experienced workers earn about $96,300.
Annual Wage (Q1 2021 dollars, rounded to 100s) – Statewide and by Labor Market Region
|New York State||$49,900||$73,800||$96,300|
|Central New York||$50,700||$71,100||$94,400|
|New York City||$58,800||$82,100||$109,800|
|Western New York||$42,600||$62,400||$75,300|
Source: New York State Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey, SOC Code 13-1051 (Cost Estimators)
The most common employers of cost estimators are contractors for building equipment systems (including HVAC/R) and construction firms that build non-residential or residential structures. Job openings across New York State in 2020 for cost estimators in the HVAC/R field were advertised online with various job titles that almost always included “estimator.” Sample job titles include project estimator, estimator, construction estimator, and mechanical estimator. Cost engineer is an alternative job title sometimes used for these positions. Use those job titles and keywords such as “HVAC,” “HVAC/R,” or “mechanical” when searching job advertisements online to help identify opportunities for employment.
Check with local union chapters active in the HVAC/R field to see if their members include cost estimators, or check with companies that employ cost estimators for HVAC/R projects to see if those positions are represented by a union contract. Cost estimators who work for government agencies may be represented by public sector unions.
Education and Training Programs
Bachelor’s degrees in business or engineering (including mechanical and construction engineering) can prepare workers for a job as a cost estimator. Some of the largest programs in New York (based on the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded) are listed in the table below.
Cost estimators who are new to the HVAC/R field or need to expand their knowledge to include clean energy technologies (such as variable refrigerant flow systems or heat pumps) can enroll in coursework offered by manufacturers or distributors of HVAC/R equipment, or providers of continuing education units. For example, Fujitsu’s HVAC/R Professional Training Program and Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US offer coursework that covers a range of HVAC/R technologies, and Steven Winter Associates, Inc. offers an Electrification Training Series. Additional training may be offered through other manufacturers and distributors in the industry, some of which partner with NYSERDA through Clean Heat Connect.
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)||Lally School of Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)||School of Engineering||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|SUNY at Albany||School of Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY Empire State College||School of Business||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|Central New York|
|Cazenovia College||Business & Management||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|SUNY College at Oswego||School of Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|Syracuse University||College of Engineering and Computer Science||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Syracuse University||Whitman School of Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||Kate Gleason College of Engineering||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Rochester Institute of Technology||Saunders College of Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY College at Brockport||School of Business & Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY College at Geneseo||School of Business||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|Marist College||School of Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|Mercy College||School of Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY New Paltz||School of Business||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY New Paltz||Science & Engineering||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|Farmingdale State College||School of Business||•||No||•Yes||No||No|
|Farmingdale State College||Architecture & Construction Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|St. Joseph’s College||Business Administration and Management||•||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|Stony Brook University||College of Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|Stony Brook University||College of Engineering and Applied Sciences||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Hartwick College||Business Administration||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill||Business Administration||No||•Yes||•Yes|
|SUNY Polytechnic Institute||Business Administration & MBA Technology Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY Polytechnic Institute||Mechanical Engineering||No||•Yes|
|New York City|
|CUNY Brooklyn College||Business Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|New York University||Stern School of Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|New York University||Tandon School of Engineering||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|The City College of New York (CUNY)||Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership||No||No||•Yes|
|The City College of New York (CUNY)||The Grove School of Engineering||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Clarkson University||Coulter School of Engineering||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|St. Lawrence University||Business in the Liberal Arts||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|SUNY College at Plattsburgh||School of Business & Economics||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|Binghamton University||School of Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Binghamton University||Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Cornell University||Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|Ithaca College||School of Business||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|Western New York|
|Buffalo State College||Business||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||No|
|SUNY at Fredonia||School of Business||No||No||•Yes||No||No|
|University at Buffalo||School of Engineering and Applied Sciences||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|
|University at Buffalo||School of Management||No||No||•Yes||•Yes||•Yes|