May 28, 2020
Imagine you live across the street from an empty field. After some time, you see a sign in the field saying the land has been sold to a company to develop a shopping center, and you begin to see many changes to the once-empty space. You might have wondered who was responsible for selecting that specific plot of land or creating a budget for the shopping center construction project. Or who will be in charge of supervising the construction workers and making sure the correct materials are used. These responsibilities typically fall to construction managers.
The exact duties of a construction manager can vary between job sites and construction projects, but what a construction manager does on a day-to-day basis often looks the same. While construction managers can have several job titles, including construction superintendent, project manager, foreman, or general contractor, they have the same overarching responsibility of overseeing a construction project from beginning to end. Many construction managers work as independent contractors, hired by different clients for different projects. Because of this, construction managers can work on a variety of sites, managing projects such as houses, schools, shopping centers, offices, medical facilities, public parks, freeways, and bridges.
Construction managers are responsible for interviewing and choosing subcontractors to work on projects, as well as creating schedules for their project sites. They begin their projects by establishing a contract with a client and are responsible for communicating with the administration to ensure that all aspects of the contract can be fulfilled and that the budget can be adhered to. Construction managers are typically the primary communicators on a job, facilitating conversations between construction workers, architects, engineers, administrators, and the client.
In addition, construction managers prepare budgets, help organize the responsibilities of those they supervise, and ensure the safety of on-site workers. If any problems arise, from going over budget to not receiving the correct materials, construction managers are responsible for making decisions and solving problems.
Since construction managers are leaders in the field and have a higher level of responsibility than other construction workers and subcontractors, it is important for them to have an understanding of how to manage projects. Individuals can qualify for construction manager roles by taking the following steps:
To prepare for a career in construction management, individuals can begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, building science, architecture, construction science, or construction management. Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree can further their education with a post-baccalaureate certificate or master’s degree in construction management.
While education is an important aspect of furthering any career, individuals working in construction need to gain several years of experience before achieving a management position. Individuals can gain experience working on construction sites as carpenters, masons, or glaziers, for example. They can also gain experience working on a variety of projects as self-employed general contractors. Seizing this opportunity will equip future construction leaders with knowledge of what construction managers do so they can prepare to pursue management roles later on.
Through both formal education and on-the-job experience, individuals can strengthen their leadership and interpersonal skills. To be effective leaders in the field, construction managers also need to be strong communicators and analytical thinkers. These skills will allow them to make important decisions based on technical expertise throughout the lifespan of a project.
The construction field is growing rapidly and the need for construction managers is growing alongside it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the employment of construction managers will increase by 10% between 2018 and 2028, whereas the average projected growth for all jobs is just 5%. In 2018, there were 471,800 jobs for construction managers, according to the BLS.
Construction managers make a higher salary than many of their industry counterparts. The annual median salary for construction managers is $93,370, according to the BLS, whereas landscape architects make approximately $68,230 per year, and civil engineers make an annual median salary of $86,640.
Those interested in learning more about what a construction manager does and pursuing a career in construction management can further their careers by earning an advanced degree such as LSU Online’s Master of Science in Construction Management program. By gaining experience in the field and investing in their education, individuals can prepare for the exciting growth potential of this rewarding role.