Cost engineering applies scientific principles to estimating the cost and control of a project. This can include manufacturing, science, or test services. Due to the many areas of business where cost is a factor, different types of cost engineering jobs are available.
The primary duty of a cost engineer is to examine cost potential on a given project and provide accurate estimates for scheduling, purchasing, packaging, shipping, and labor. Engineering skills are used to study the product or test, determine its probable cost, and divide the total into specific areas, such as manufacturing, shipping, and packaging.
Different cost engineering jobs typically depend on the field. Cost engineers can be found in purchasing, manufacturing, health care, and science. While the fields are specific in nature, the duties of a cost engineer are similar in most cases. Using scientific principles, the cost engineer calculates tangible costs, adds in the probability of additional costs, and puts it all together in a package to present to management.
Purchasing cost engineers do not usually deal with any aspect of a project other than what it will cost to buy materials. For example, a cost engineer working in the purchasing department of a ship-building plant only concentrates on what the cost will be to buy parts for ship building. If he or she works in a test lab at a government site, the job will entail determining the cost of testing supplies.
A cost engineer working in the health care field may also be charged with determining the probable cost of building a new facility or figuring out what the chances are that new blood tests will go up in price by year's end. The general role in all cost engineering jobs is to save the company money through accurate estimation, based in scientific probability. Cost engineers typically take engineering economic classes as part of their university studies. Most cost engineering positions require a minimum of bachelor's degree in engineering. Some cost engineers obtain their master's degree to further their careers.
Skill sets for cost engineering jobs should include a love of mathematics and science and the ability to communicate with others. Organizational skills and attention to detail are also good talents to possess. Finance classes in college and a natural grasp of economic concepts will work well in a cost engineering career.