Construction is a budding field that’s only set to grow faster now that the U.S. economy is picking up. Earning your stripes in construction management can lead to a financially rewarding and long-lasting career. As a construction manager, you will require some training because you’ll be managing the work crew, project finances, hiring personnel, and ensuring that the work is done on time.
Let’s look at how to become a construction manager and what the job entails. If it sounds like a good move for you, we’ll also look at construction management associate degree programs and how to take the next step to becoming a construction manager.
What Does a Construction Management Career Look Like?
Every major construction project will need a construction manager to help with its financial management and staffing. This is to ensure that there’s enough money to pay everyone and that there’s the right knowledge on site to prevent any lapses in work.
You’ll learn about managing finances, matching skillsets, reading contracts, purchasing materials, and hiring or firing individuals who aren’t performing at the level you need. The construction management career path is as much about people management as construction.
According to national research on the construction management job overview, most construction managers work on large projects and will find themselves both on the jobsite and in the main office for their tasks. Since you’re reviewing overall work and not individual performance, you’ll be responsible for meeting broad deadlines or answering emergencies that crop up on the site.
Construction Management Job Overview
According to national research, the construction management field is growing and you’re making a wise investment if you choose to gain an education and skillset related to a construction management career.
If you work hard and find yourself in the top 10 percent of your field, you’ll be pulling in nearly $145,000 a year or more. When you’re just starting out, you can still expect to make a construction management salary of more than $50,000 per year, especially if you’re in hot markets like Ocean City, N.J., Vineland, N.J., and Philadelphia. Remember, these are averages so your actual salary will vary based on your location and when you finish your training.
The market is set to continue its solid growth thanks to an increase in the U.S. economy, especially in terms of housing. More and more, the domestic construction industry is building apartments and multi-unit housing. These are large projects and require multiple construction phases, so you there may be multiple construction managers involved with each project.
Since the economy is still in a rebound, going through a construction management associate degree program can make a big difference when it comes to getting hired.
Construction Project Manager Job Description
Construction managers spend most of their time overseeing a jobsite and the individuals running crews and teams at that job site. On smaller jobs, you may be the head of the entire team and have every single member responsible to you.
This means that you’re always in the middle of the action, so no two days will really be the same. Since you’re the main person to address issues, you’ll be bouncing between getting the right materials to a jobsite, dealing with an injury or mishap, bidding on jobs, or planning new projects.
You’re doing all of that while still making sure all the people one your jobsite are happy. You get to be the manager they come to with problems, but that also means you get to be the person they like when those problems are solved.
A lot of this work can be considered benchmarking for your crew, yourself, and your company. You’ll be working with a variety of analytical software tools that can help you keep track of money, work hours, materials, and deadlines. Construction managers need to be comfortable with all of that management. The best way to track and improve on these is by learning the average for each (i.e. how many man hours are needed to lay a foundation or how long it takes for materials to be ordered and then arrive at a job site).
Once the current averages are known, a good construction manager looks for ways to improve the process and cut down time and cost. This makes everyone happy because your contracts will often include bonuses for completing work early, and your crews won’t have to sit around waiting on equipment or materials.
A proper education in construction management can help you identify these key performance indicators (KPIs) and develop methods to improve them. Doing this will make you a more valuable asset to your company or clients, making it more likely you’ll get work in the future.
Construction Management Career Path Skills
National studies and research on the field of construction management have identified some key characteristics that you’ll need to have and skills to learn to be successful in your construction management career. These are all part of the overall construction project manager job description:
Analytics: Construction managers will need to plan an entire project, so you’ll need the analytical ability to map out an entire operation, plus develop contingencies to address unexpected issues or delays. It is your job to solve the problems that crop up during a job, and most jobs seem to experience a hiccup or two. You’ll also need the budgeting analysis to estimate the costs and amount of materials, time, labor, and rental equipment to complete the job.
Business Acumen: To become a construction manager, you’ll need to manage a budget and have the overall business smarts to coordinate your workforce and keep everyone happy. You need the ability to supervise a group of workers, create a good relationship with them, and keep the on track. Think of your favorite boss when you got a job done and aim for that.
Customer-Service: As a construction manager, you’ll be the face of your company when it comes to managing projects with the owner of the property, building, or other work site. This means you’ll be constantly interacting with those owners, state and professional inspectors, as well as the public. You’ll be required to explain the process of your construction plan and communicate any issues or delays when they happen.
Decision-Making: Construction managers have to staff people for their company and select subcontractors for specific jobs. Subcontractor management can be especially difficult in terms of decision making because it will adjust the schedule for your deadline and take up a large portion of your budget.
Initiative: Just starting the construction management career path takes guts, so you’re doing well. Many construction managers are self-employed and contract out their services to different construction companies that are working in their area. Because different types of construction work is often seasonal, you may find yourself working on a variety of different projects each year. Initiative helps because it makes it easier for you to seek out and find new clients, market your services, and bid on job proposals. Initiative will also aid you in learning about different industries or new construction trends, such as what’s hot in home improvement from laminate wood flooring to eco-friendly design.
Leadership: This trait has been touched on in other sections but it’s worth noting that construction management is a leadership position. You need to actively engage with your workers and subcontractors to ensure the job is done, so you can’t shrink away from confrontation. Leadership is among the biggest pieces of the construction project manager job description because your crew must respect you.
Speaking: Dust off those public speaking skills. As a construction manager, you’ll be determining and explaining a variety of complex tasks and timelines to a large, diverse set of individuals. What you’ll end up needing is the ability to distill what information snippets are needed and tell that bit to the right group. This means you’ll need to be comfortable speaking in general as well as tailoring your directions to different workers. Your engineers need a very different set of instructions compared to your foremen, so speaking not only covers the engagement but also knowing how to express yourself in detailed, technical terms.
Thankfully, a good education can help you find confidence that you know the right things to tell each group. This confidence can improve your speaking ability even if you’re not a big fan of public speaking or addressing large groups.
Technical Aptitude: From blueprints to backhoes, you’ll need a strong technical aptitude to be a good construction manager. Your education should cover the different methods and stages of general construction, the software you’ll need for verifying expenses and work, and the specific knowledge for construction-related contracts and technical drawings.
Your best bet to hone this skill is to get the proper training from a great education partner.
Time-Management: Time is money, especially in construction. As a construction manager, you must meet deadlines all the time, or else you’ll be the one in hot water. You need to develop an overall, realistic timeframe for the construction project and then keep everything on track as it moves through different stages of completion. Because many construction projects work in phases that build on the previous phase’s completed work, one delay will impact the entire job. Just like a building needs a good foundation to stay upright, you need a good time-management base to successfully work as a construction manager.
Writing: This one may come as a bit of a surprise, but you’ll be writing a lot as a construction manager. These managers are responsible for writing and verifying plans, proposals, budgets, contracts, and many documents that are filed with your city or local jurisdiction. You also will need to write progress reports, write-up incidents, maintain documentation on workers, and provide information for your client and higher-ups. There’s a lot of paper involved in getting a new sewer line in, adding that pool, or creating a new building from the ground up.
Construction Management Salary Comparisons
What’s some of the best news about furthering your career with training for a construction manager position? The pay-bump you’ll get compared to other jobs; but remember, this is just a construction management job overview.
Construction managers are outperforming almost everyone else at the job site and even many of the folks in the main office. You’ll start earning salaries comparable to specialized engineers, but you won’t have to go through the same amount of training.
With a strong outlook for the construction industry and a projected 16 percent growth in the number of available jobs each year, it’s a great time to look into becoming a construction manager.
How to Become a Construction Manager
Unlike other construction jobs, you can rarely get promoted to a construction manager position without education and training. Most large construction firms will want you to have both general construction work experience and training specific to the field of construction management. When looking at your options on how to become a construction manager, education is key.
To gain the initial knowledge for the industry, you can apprentice in the construction industry or in a related trade that will give you on-the-job training. You may have also already started a job in the construction industry as a general worker, which gives you the baseline of what you need to know.
After you get that general exposure to construction, you’ll need to look into training, certification, or degree programs that are tailored specifically to the construction position. One of the best to consider is a Construction Management Associate Degree Program because it will specifically address the needs and skills of the position.
By choosing an industry or position-specific program, you’ll be able to simply get the skills you need. Your path to construction management will typically be a two-year stint, though it’s only about 70 weeks long. Make sure you seek out a program that combines classroom instruction and hands-on training for things like building codes, materials and applications, software systems, craft skills, and hot topics such as sustainable construction.
It may surprise you a little bit, but you also want to look into a program that offers general courses around people and business, such as project management, psychology, and communications. These courses will help improve your relationship with anyone on the job site.
The right education partner is vital to your future prospects.
Choosing a Construction Management Associate Degree Program
You need to work with an education institution that can help you with financial aid, career assistance, and teachers who have worked in the field where you want to work. Getting help from real-world professionals means you’re getting advice that’s relevant to today’s business environment.
Did you know that nearly 80 percent of all construction inspectors — one popular construction management career path — work for the federal and state government, especially in the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Tennessee Valley Authority? These positions all require an education and training that covers the basics of construction management as well as the understanding of how people use the structures you engineer and build.
The right program will fit your needs and have options to meet your schedule, allowing you to still earn a living while improving your skills. A good partner also knows that it can train you for the current state of the construction industry and provide you with skills relevant in the future.
Training in construction management at Vista College will take your career to the next level.