Cost engineers work to ensure value for money using engineering knowledge to assess and control costs. This may be:
Cost estimating – involves working out costs of a variety ways of working, from making a component or new product to an entire construction project. This can assist a manufacturer or contractor to decide on a price to tender, or a client to compare between different tenders.
Cost Control – involves ensuring that a project stays within its estimated and agreed costs.
Planning – involves thinking through time-related aspects of alternative designs or courses of action and costs, whilst looking at the benefits that may arise. For example, calculating and comparing costs and benefits of siting a new warehouse in different regions.
From their findings they write reports and make presentations that tell managers what they need to know to make decisions. The reports may include forecasts of future costs and recommendations.
Other areas within cost engineering include investment appraisal, risk analysis, trend forecasting and value engineering.
Cost engineers usually have a basic working week of 37 to 40 hours, Monday to Friday. Overtime may also be necessary.
They are normally office-based. Offices are normally clean and pleasant and reasonably quiet.
If their work relates closely to manufacturing or construction, they may spend time on the shop floor, construction site or processing plant. Construction sites may be dirty and exposed to the weather. Some jobs may involve travel to customers’ sites or offices.
An ability to understand engineering drawings and principles is required. Written and spoken communication skills are important, as is an ability to present ideas in written reports.
A logical, methodical approach is needed with an interest in solving problems. Computer and number skills are necessary. Teamwork is required.In some jobs, awareness of outside factors such as legislation, trends in prices, interest and exchange rates, activity of competitors, etc. is necessary.
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From March 2002, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills began licensing new Sector Skills Councils - charged with boosting skills and productivity in business sectors. For information about Sector Skills Councils, their roles and responsibilities, please visit the Sector Skills Development Agency website: www.ssda.org.uk