4. Construction Estimator
The nitty-gritty: Construction estimators gauge the price of time, labor and materials for a particular job, and then put together a bid. Employers in the field are typically construction companies, contractors or builders. Marching around a construction site and schmoozing with a variety of characters from clients to architects to suppliers and subcontractors is all in a day's work.
Median pay: $27.82 per hour
Qualifications: Many estimators have worked previously in the construction industry, where they were often foremen or superintendents. While prior construction experience is helpful, you'll be able to learn on the job. Each employer has a certain way of managing estimates. The work requires a solid understanding of building materials, methods of construction and the local building code. A strong grounding in mathematics and computer skills is nonnegotiable. Make sure you are up to speed on programs such as Microsoft Office, OnScreen Takeoff and Carlson Takeoff Software. It's helpful to have a bachelor's degree in engineering, physical sciences, mathematics or statistics. If you have experience in business-related disciplines such as accounting, finance, business or economics and a passion for construction projects, employers will be happy to talk in these cost-conscious times. The American Society of Professional Estimators, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Estimating International (also known as AACE International) and the International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association each offer a variety of certifications.