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How to Become a Construction Manager

By Anita Akpuoforba

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Are you passionate about towering skyscrapers, sustainable infrastructure, and innovative designs? A career in construction management offers endless opportunities to leave your mark on the world. In this guide, we will explore the exciting field of construction management and provide you with all the essential information you need to pursue it as a career.

Career Summary

Construction Manager Salary

The earning potential of Construction Managers can vary based on factors such as their skill set, experience, geographic location, and the specific industry they work in. Below is a salary trajectory for those living in the United States, per Glassdoor.

  • Entry Salary (US$83k)
  • Median Salary (US$105k)
  • Executive Salary (US$134k)

When compared with the national average wage in the US, Construction Managers are high earners.

What does a Construction Manager do?

A construction manager oversees a project from beginning to end, making sure it is finished on schedule, on budget, and to the appropriate quality standards. They organize tasks, handle finances,  manage resources,  oversee team coordination, uphold safety procedures, and resolve any possible problems. Additionally, construction managers interact with stakeholders and keep track of project progress.

Construction Manager Career Progression

There are a variety of entry-level jobs in construction management, all of which are ranked equally but have varied duties. However, you can start to follow a career progression based on your experience level after reaching mid-level roles.

  • Assistant Construction Manager: Assistant construction manager assists senior managers in coordinating and documenting construction projects.
  • Project Coordinator: Project coordinators provide administrative support to construction projects, assisting in tasks like budget tracking, document management, and coordination of project meetings.
  • Project Manager: Project managers take charge of individual construction projects, overseeing all aspects, including planning, budgeting, scheduling, and resource allocation.
  • Construction Manager: Construction managers have broader responsibilities, managing multiple projects simultaneously and supervising multiple project managers.
  • Senior Construction Manager: Senior construction managers possess extensive experience in managing complex projects and overseeing teams of construction managers.
  • Construction Consultant: Construction consultants offer specialized expertise and advice to clients or construction firms.
  • Construction Director: Construction directors are in charge of handling an entire department or division within a construction company.
  • Construction Executive: Construction executives hold top-level positions in construction companies, such as Vice President or Chief Operations Officer (COO).
Construction Manager Career Progression

Pros:

  • Engaging in unique construction projects.
  • Experiencing diverse cultures in international projects.
  • Making a positive impact on communities through construction.
  • Developing critical leadership skills.
  • Building strong professional networks.

Cons:

  • Working extended hours to meet deadlines.
  • Physically demanding conditions and hazardous environments.
  • Navigating complex regulatory requirements.
  • Pressure to manage budgets and costs.
  • Dealing with unforeseen challenges

Useful Skills to Have as a Construction Manager

  • Analytical thinking skills for informed decision-making.
  • Understanding of construction processes, techniques, and materials.
  • Finance savvy for the skilled management of project budgets and costs.
  • Time management and conflict resolution skills.
  • Proficiency in construction-related software and tools.

Popular Construction Manager Specialties

  • Residential Construction Specialist
  • Commercial Construction Specialist
  • Civil Infrastructure Specialist
  • Sustainable Construction Specialist
  • Renovation and Restoration Specialist
  • Sports and Entertainment Specialist

How to become a Construction Manager

Construction Manager 5 Steps to Career

From obtaining relevant degrees or certifications to gaining hands-on experience, aspiring construction managers need to navigate a path that combines education, practical training, and essential skill development.

Education

The common educational path for construction managers typically involves earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management or a related field. However, educational backgrounds can vary. Let’s explore some key considerations.

Do I need a degree to become a Construction Manager?

A degree is not always a strict requirement to become a construction manager. The construction industry values practical experience and demonstrated capabilities alongside formal education. However, having a degree is highly beneficial and often preferred by employers in the industry.

Why is it important to get a degree in Construction Management?

According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse, enrollment in four-year undergraduate programs in the construction profession increased by 5.7% in 2019.

It shows that more people think it is advantageous to get a degree.

Still, here are some compelling reasons to convince you to get one before fully diving into the career path:

  • A degree program covers essential concepts, theories, and best practices in the field, providing a solid foundation of knowledge.
  • Degree programs often include internships or cooperative education opportunities, allowing students to apply their learning in real-world settings.
  • A degree demonstrates dedication, professionalism, and commitment, making you more competitive in the job market.
  • A degree opens doors to higher-level positions and increases opportunities for career advancement in construction management.

How long does it take to get a degree in Construction Management?

The duration of a degree program in construction management can vary depending on various factors. However, on average, a bachelor’s degree in construction management typically takes around four years to complete. Further studies to bag a master’s degree will take an additional one to three years.

While a degree in construction management is increasingly popular these days, it’s worth noting that only a few universities offer one, so aspiring construction managers must do a thorough search to find the right institutions that fit their needs. Such needs could include desiring an online or hybrid program to provide flexibility for those needing to balance their studies with work or other commitments.

How much does it cost to study Construction Management at a University?

Tuition fees for a bachelor’s degree program in construction management in the United States can range from US$9,081 to US$26,446 per year, depending on the institution and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student.

Financial aid options, such as scholarships and grants, may be available to help offset some of the expenses. To find out information about such funds, do research and consult with the universities directly to avoid falling for a scam and to ensure you get adequate and up-to-date data.

Can I become a Construction Manager through online education?

Yes, it is possible to become a construction manager through online education. Many accredited universities and colleges offer online programs in construction management, allowing individuals to earn a degree or certification in this field remotely.

Online education provides flexibility, allowing students to access course materials and complete assignments at their own pace and from any location with an internet connection. However, it is important to ensure that the online program you choose is accredited and recognized by relevant industry organizations to ensure the quality and credibility of the education you receive.

What are some web resources to learn skills to become a Construction Manager?

The web resources listed below provide valuable information, training, and resources to develop the skills necessary for a career in construction management. By exploring these platforms, you can access industry insights, best practices, and professional development opportunities to enhance your knowledge and expertise in the field.

  • Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) – CMAA offers resources, webinars, and training programs that cover various aspects of construction management, including project planning, risk management, and leadership skills.
  • Project Management Institute (PMI) – PMI provides a wealth of resources and training related to project management, which is a crucial skill for construction managers. Their website offers access to webinars, articles, and online courses on project management methodologies and best practices.
  • Construction Industry Institute (CII) – CII offers research-based knowledge and tools for construction professionals. Their website provides access to publications, case studies, and webinars that cover topics such as project delivery methods, safety management, and productivity improvement.
  • Procore Construction Education – Procore offers a variety of online courses and resources to help individuals develop construction management skills. Their platform covers topics such as project management, construction technology, and collaboration tools used in the industry.
  • Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA): CFMA provides resources, webinars, and educational programs focused on financial management, accounting, and risk management in the construction industry.

Practical Experience

What are internship opportunities for a Construction Manager?

Internship opportunities for a construction manager can provide valuable hands-on experience and industry exposure.

Some common internship opportunities include:

  • Construction Project Intern: You’ll assist in various aspects of construction projects, such as site inspections, project documentation, scheduling, and coordination with contractors and suppliers.
  • Field Engineer Intern: You’ll work closely with field engineers and project managers to oversee construction activities, ensure adherence to plans and specifications, and resolve on-site issues. You will also assist in safety programs and protocols, conduct safety inspections, identify hazards, and promote a culture of safety on construction sites.
  • Construction Management Intern: You’ll assist in project management tasks, including contract administration, subcontractor coordination, and progress tracking. You will also gain experience in cost estimation and budgeting for construction projects by analyzing project plans, quantities, and pricing materials and labor.
  • BIM (Building Information Modeling) Intern: You’ll gain experience in 3D modeling, clash detection, and coordination using BIM software to enhance project efficiency and collaboration.
  • Construction Technology Intern: You’ll explore emerging technologies in the construction industry, such as virtual reality, drones, and project management software, and how they can improve construction processes.
  • Quality Control Intern: You will gain experience in quality assurance and control processes, performing inspections and tests, reviewing construction documentation, and ensuring compliance with quality standards.

To avail yourself of these opportunities, actively search for openings through job boards, company websites, career centers, and networking events. Additionally, reaching out to construction companies directly and inquiring about internship programs can also uncover potential opportunities.

What Skills Will I Learn as a Construction Manager?

As a construction manager, the skills listed below are the most crucial ones you will learn to equip you to handle the complexities of construction management and succeed in overseeing construction projects effectively.

  • Project Management: You will learn how to plan, organize, and manage construction projects from start to finish, including tasks such as budgeting, scheduling, resource allocation, and risk management.
  • Technical Knowledge: You will gain a deep understanding of construction methods, materials, and building codes. This knowledge will allow you to assess project requirements, evaluate construction plans, and ensure compliance with regulations.
  • Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Construction managers must identify potential risks and develop strategies to mitigate them. You will learn how to assess project risks, implement safety measures, and ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
  • Financial Management: Construction projects involve budgeting, cost estimation, and financial monitoring. You will develop skills in financial management, including tracking expenses, forecasting costs, and managing project budgets.
  • Quality Control: You will learn how to implement and maintain quality standards throughout the construction process, ensuring that projects meet specifications and customer expectations.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Construction Manager?

Construction managers often face long hours and stress during the planning and execution stages of projects, with larger ones requiring even more time. Seasonal factors, such as weather conditions, may also impact schedules and interrupt one’s personal time.

However, despite these challenges, it is possible to achieve a work-life balance. Many managers devise strategies to effectively manage their workload such as delegating tasks and exchanging shifts with colleagues. By finding the right balance, construction managers can navigate the demands of their profession while maintaining their overall well-being.

What’s the Career Outlook for Construction Manager?

The job outlook for construction managers is generally positive. The need to upgrade aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and utilities, creates significant job opportunities for construction managers. Also, rapid urbanization and population growth drive the demand for numerous construction projects in cities, offering construction managers opportunities to work on urban development initiatives.

That being said, construction managers’ employment is expected to increase by 8% between 2021 and 2031, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This exceeds the average for all occupations. There are expected to be around 41,500 openings for construction managers during this period.

Construction Manager Popular Career Specialties

What are the Job Opportunities of a Construction Manager?

If you’re wondering what kinds of careers are available once you’ve learned everything you need to know about becoming a construction manager, here is a list of typical positions in the industry.

  • Project Manager: Construction Managers often work as project managers, overseeing all aspects of construction projects, including planning, budgeting, scheduling, and coordination.
  • Site Manager: As a site manager, you will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a construction site, ensuring adherence to safety protocols, coordinating resources, and overseeing the progress of the project.
  • Estimator: Construction managers with strong cost estimation skills may find opportunities as estimators responsible for analyzing project requirements and preparing accurate cost estimates for materials, labor, and equipment.
  • Construction Consultant: Experienced Construction Managers can work as consultants, providing expert advice and guidance on construction projects, offering insights on project feasibility, cost optimization, and risk management.
  • Construction Project Coordinator: Construction Managers can work as project coordinators, supporting project managers in administrative tasks, document control, and communication with stakeholders.
  • Facilities Manager: Construction Managers with expertise in building maintenance and operations may find opportunities as facilities managers responsible for overseeing the maintenance, safety, and functionality of buildings and facilities.
  • Construction Business Development Manager: Construction Managers with strong business acumen can pursue roles in business development, focusing on identifying new project opportunities, building client relationships, and expanding the company’s construction portfolio.
  • Construction Safety Manager: Construction Managers can specialize in safety management, overseeing and implementing safety protocols and practices to ensure a safe working environment on construction sites.
  • Construction Quality Manager: Construction managers can specialize in quality management, working as quality managers who implement quality control procedures, conduct inspections, and ensure construction projects meet quality standards.

What Type of Companies Hire a Construction Manager?

Construction managers are hired by a variety of companies and organizations involved in the construction industry.

Some common types of companies that hire construction managers include:

  • Construction Companies: This includes both large and small construction firms engaged in various types of construction projects, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or infrastructure projects.
  • Architectural Firms: Architectural firms often collaborate with construction managers to ensure the smooth execution of their design plans. Construction managers in architectural firms are responsible for coordinating with contractors, managing the construction process, and ensuring that the project meets the design intent.
  • General Contractors: General contractors are responsible for overseeing and managing construction projects from start to finish. They often hire construction managers to coordinate the different aspects of the project, such as scheduling, budgeting, and subcontractor management.
  • Real Estate Developers: Real estate development companies hire construction managers to oversee the construction phase of their projects. Construction managers work closely with architects, engineers, and contractors to ensure that the development meets the design and quality standards set by the developer.
  • Engineering and Design Firms: Engineering and design firms often hire construction managers to bridge the gap between the design and construction phases of projects. Construction managers ensure that the construction aligns with the design plans, coordinate with contractors, and manage the construction process.
  • Government Agencies: Government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels hire construction managers for public infrastructure projects. These projects can include roadways, bridges, public buildings, water treatment facilities, and other public infrastructure improvements.
  • Facility Owners: Facility owners, including commercial businesses, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, and government entities, hire construction managers to oversee the construction or renovation of their facilities. Construction managers ensure that the structure meets the owner’s requirements and manages the project on their behalf.

Overall, the demand for construction managers exists in a wide range of companies and organizations involved in construction and development projects.

Should I become a Construction Manager?

Construction management is a dynamic and rewarding career that offers a unique blend of technical expertise, leadership, and problem-solving. Being a construction manager allows you to play a pivotal role in bringing projects to life and shaping the built environment.

Despite its allure, it is not a career path that should be taken lightly. It requires a passion for construction, strong organizational skills, and the ability to navigate complex projects in a fast-paced, ever-evolving industry.

Hence, you must carry out a  thoughtful consideration of your interests, strengths, and career goals to ensure they all align with the research you have done and the content in this guide. After this has been done, you can then make an informed decision about pursuing a career as a construction manager.

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Anita Akpuoforba

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