Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.
What they do
Construction managers typically do the following:
- Prepare cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
- Interpret and explain contracts and technical information to other professionals
- Report work progress and budget matters to clients
- Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction specialists
- Select subcontractors and schedule and coordinate their activities
- Respond to work delays, emergencies, and other problems
- Comply with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations
Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a wide variety of projects, including the building of all types of public, residential, commercial, and industrial structures, as well as roads, memorials, and bridges. Either a general contractor or a construction manager oversees the construction phase of a project, but a construction manager may also consult with the client during the design phase to help refine construction plans and control costs.
Construction managers oversee specialized contractors and other personnel. They schedule and coordinate all construction processes so that projects meet design specifications. They ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. Some construction managers may be responsible for several projects at once—for example, the construction of multiple apartment buildings.
Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, civil engineers, and a variety of trade workers, including stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Projects may require specialists in everything from structural steel and painting to landscaping, paving roads, and excavating sites. Depending on the project, construction managers may interact with lawyers and local government officials. For example, when working on city-owned property or municipal buildings, construction managers sometimes confer with city inspectors to ensure that all regulations are met.
For projects too large to be managed by one person, such as office buildings and industrial complexes, a top-level construction manager hires other construction managers to be in charge of different aspects of the project. For example, each construction manager would oversee a specific phase of the project, such as structural foundation, plumbing, or electrical work, and choose subcontractors to complete it. The top-level construction manager would then collaborate and coordinate with the other construction managers.
Many construction managers have a main office, but they spend most of their time working out of a field office at the construction site, where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities. For those managing multiple projects, frequent travel between sites is required.
How to become a Construction Manager
Construction managers typically must have a bachelor’s degree and learn management techniques through on-the-job training. Large construction firms increasingly prefer candidates with both construction experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. Although some individuals with a high school diploma and many years of experience in a construction trade may be hired as construction managers, these individuals are typically qualified to become self-employed general contractors.
Although there are various ways to enter this occupation, it is becoming increasingly important for construction managers to have a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering. As construction processes become more complex, employers are placing greater importance on specialized education.
More than 100 colleges and universities offer accredited bachelor’s degree programs in construction science, building science, or construction engineering. These programs include courses in project control and management, design, construction methods and materials, cost estimation, building codes and standards, and contract administration. Courses in mathematics and statistics are also relevant.
More than fifty 2-year colleges offer construction management or construction technology programs. An associate degree combined with work experience is typical for managers who supervise smaller projects.
A few universities offer master’s degree programs in construction management.
Jobseekers with a high school diploma and several years of relevant work experience may qualify to become a construction manager, although most are qualified to become self-employed general contractors.
The median annual wage for construction managers was $95,260 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $56,140, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $164,790.
Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Construction managers are expected to be needed as overall construction activity expands. Over the coming decade, population and business growth will result in the construction of new residences, office buildings, retail outlets, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and other structures. Also, the need to improve portions of the national infrastructure may spur employment growth as roads, bridges, and sewer pipe systems are upgraded or replaced.
Similar Job Titles
Concrete Foreman, Construction Area Manager, Construction Foreman, Construction Manager, Construction Services Manager, Construction Superintendent, Job Superintendent, Project Executive, Project Manager, Project Superintendent, Construction Coordinator
Civil Engineer, Transportation Engineer, Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineer, Energy Engineer
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- AACE International (American Association of Cost Engineering)
- American Council for Construction Education
- American Institute of Constructors
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- Architectural Woodwork Institute
- CMAA (Construction Management Association of America)
- Project Management Institute
- Society of American Military Engineers
- The American Institute of Architects
Magazines and Publications
When a building goes up, construction managers handle the big questions: who’s doing what; how long will it take; how much will it cost; and what happens if there’s an accident or work delay. They plan and supervise all types of construction projects— buildings, roads, bridges, and more— from beginning to end. Construction managers work closely with architects, civil engineers, and a variety of trades workers. They frequently call-in city inspectors to ensure that all regulations are met, and may consult with lawyers and local officials for large projects. They use cost-estimating and planning software to develop budgets and schedules, which they must maintain while also fulfilling design specifications. Construction managers work in both commercial and residential construction. Many are self-employed, while others work for specialty trade contractors. They typically have an office, but spend most of their time onsite to monitor construction activities and make on-the-spot decisions. Long hours are common, as is being on call around the clock. While almost all positions require extensive construction experience, formal education needed ranges from a bachelor’s degree for the biggest projects, to an associate’s degree or high school diploma for smaller projects. Some managers earn general contractor credentials and work for themselves. A new construction manager typically trains as an assistant under an experienced manager.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org