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.

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

What Do Construction Managers Do

Duties

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.

To maximize efficiency and productivity, construction managers often perform the tasks of a cost estimator. They use specialized cost-estimating and planning software to show how to allocate time and money in order to complete their projects. Many construction managers also use software to plan the best way to get materials to the building site.