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What is Construction Management?

August 13, 2021 | Staff Writers

What is Construction Management
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Landing a career in construction management is a popular goal sought after by many people these days. Modern technology is making it easier to quickly design and construct large buildings, skyscrapers, and housing units. 

We can visually see who is constructing these buildings from the outside, but most people don’t know the work going on inside the office. Many job site roles come together to get the job done. A successful construction manager does the behind the scenes planning, number crunching, and executing decisions to ensure all projects are going accordingly. 

More than 476,000 Construction managers are working in the U.S. It doesn’t look like the need for this profession is going to slow down anything soon.

Job description of a construction manager

If you are considering working in the construction field, but with less of a hands-on approach to the actual building itself. Becoming a construction manager could be a good fit for you. This job requires you to be detail-oriented and able to work under pressure and time crunches.

The construction manager takes the ideas and needs of an employer and makes them happen. They work on every project from start to finish, communicating with everyone involved in the project. The construction manager is the go-between for all involved. So, what do they do?

The four tasks required from a construction manager are to plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise. Plan the project out, coordinate all the key factors and players, budget to fit the employer’s price, and supervise the project until completed. 

Plan

  • Hiring staff 
  • Assigning jobs and task
  • Evaluates daily progress, creates daily reports
  • Determines the time frame for all stages and creates schedules.
  • Determine a budget for all tasks

Coordinate

  • Works directly with architects and engineers to work out project details
  • Determines the size of crews needed
  • Obtains all of the permits and licenses needed

Budget

  • Obtain all equipment and material needed for the entire project
  • Ensures all materials are in stock 
  • Makes sure jobs are staying on track as to not go over budget
  • Does the negotiations with contractors to get budget-friendly offers

Supervise

  • Make sure all safety standards are being met and followed
  • Supervises staff and offers assistance if/when it is needed
  • Keeps an eye on construction to make sure all is going as planned

How Much Do Construction Managers Make?

Being a construction manager is a very demanding job. However, if you are good with time management, high-stress situations, and long hours on the job, you will benefit in this career. 

In 2019 the average annual salary for a construction management career averaged around $97,900 and $120,121. The pay ranges widely depending on many factors including, education, job experience, state you are working in, and any additional skill.

What Are Employers Looking For?

All situations will differ slightly, but the job will pretty much remain the same from project to project no matter where you live or what company you work for. Most companies want someone with at least five years of construction experience, a bachelor’s degree in construction management or similar, and someone who can offer strong managerial and organizational skills.

What is the Demand for Construction Managers?

As the demand for commercial and residential properties increase, so does the need for construction managers. It is believed that the need for construction management jobs will increase more than any other job today. It is projected the increase in jobs will grow to 8% by 2019. That would be an influx of over 40,000 jobs annually in the next few years.

States Employing Construction Managers

The projected increase in the need for construction managers is sitting at 8%, but this increase doesn’t mean that all states hire at the same rate. Each state differs in its need for this profession. Some need a lot more, and some don’t need any at all. Here is the data projected for the Construction manager career for the years 2018-2028.

Top 5 States hiring

  • Idaho- 29.8%
  • Colorado- 28.4%
  • Utah- 24%
  • Texas-17.0%
  • Oregon- 17.3%

5 States with Lowest projections

  • Main- -6.3
  • Illinois- -1.9%
  • Mississippi- 1.2%
  • Illinois- 1.9%
  • Louisiana/Vermont: 3.2%

Necessary skills for a career in construction management

A career in construction management requires many skills and special qualities to be successful. You are fully responsible for making sure the project is completed on time and within budget. You are also responsible for any safety violations, lack of proper permits, and insufficient material or resources.

Experience

To qualify for a job as a construction manager, you have to have proven experience as an on-the-job construction project manager.  As a project manager, you would have experience overseeing a specific project from start to finish.

With enough experience, this job can provide you with the proper skills to qualify you for becoming a construction manager.

Knowledge of Construction procedures and Material Management

Having a proper understanding of the procedures required to finish a job is essential for construction management. You will have to have the know-how to get a complete project completed from the very beginning of planning stages to completion. If you don’t have impeccable knowledge of how the construction of buildings is performed you will not have a good sense of time management or budgeting.

Just like construction procedures, you also need to be very familiar with material management. Having insight on what materials you need to construct each project and how much will be needed is essential. 

Most, if not all, construction managers have had some work in the construction field itself before moving up. Having plenty of hands-on experience in the field can prepare you for details like these.

Understanding of Safety Standards and Regulations

On-site, construction managers are solely responsible for making sure the entire project is up to date on all standards are regulations. According to Osha reports, there are, on average, 6.5 million construction personnel working on a construction site daily.  They also have the highest average of fatal injuries in the nation. 

Being well-educated and understanding construction site safety laws can mean the difference between life and death.

Potential hazards for workers in construction include: 

  • Falls
  • Scaffold collapse
  • Electric shock and arc flash or arc blast
  • Failure to use proper personal protective equipment
  • Trench collapse
  • Repetitive motion injuries

(https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3252/3252.html)

Must Be Personable and Professional

In this line of work, you will be dealing with all sorts of people and all different personalities. The jobs can and will become stressful. Anyone in a management position must have good communications skill and a  willingness to negotiate and be a team player.

Losing your temper on-site can cause a whole slew of problems for you and your entire crew. Having the ability to communicate well is a must when managing the construction of an entire project.

Having good communication skills are also necessary for negotiating terms and prices with contractors. You need to have the ability to bargain respectfully to get the prices you are after.

Respectful to Employees

When looking into becoming a contract manager you have to be willing to get your hands dirty when needed. You must see every person working on your team and treat everyone with the same respect.

If your team needs you, you should never hesitate to jump in. Keeping the respect of your whole crew will make the project run smoothly. 

Organization Skills

The projects you will be managing will be very large. You have to have the ability to organize and manage each task at the right time in the right way. If you have poor organizational skills or can not manage time effectively, that will lead to over budgeting and not getting your projects done on time. 

Educational requirements for a construction manager

If you have decided to become a construction manager, then you must go through education and training. Construction is not an easy field to work in, and it is important you know all the ins and outs before jumping in. 

Most employers will want you to hold a bachelor’s degree or certification and a few years of job training before hiring you. 

What Degrees Should You Obtain?

There are a range of Bachelors or Associates degrees available, and you can also take some certification courses that may suffice if you have enough on the job experience.

Bachelors degrees:

  • Bachelors in Construction Science– A Construction Science Degree is composed of courses based around Management, Engineering and design, and construction management. Students will learn architectural designing, and managerial fundamentals such as financing, accounting, and law. 
  • Bachelors in Construction Management- A Construction Management Degree offers plenty of focus on education in the management position. This role can include designing, budgeting, computer science, etc.  They also focus intensely on the construction site components.
  • Bachelors in Engineering or Architect- This Bachelors Degree offers studies more directed to the implementation of construction design. Their courses focus on building design, structure systems, construction, and more.

Associates Degrees

  • Construction Management– This degree provides skills in construction design and planning, management skills, and OSHA training and safety protocol.
  • Construction Technology- The Construction Technology Associate’s Degree gives students an understanding of project management, including plan reading, estimating, budgeting, and bookkeeping.

Certificate Course

  • Certified Construction Manager (CCM)- A Certification in construction management gives a person the skills needed to understand budgeting, estimating, project time control, safety rules and regulations, and planning and design of a project.
  • Associate Constructor Certification- This is a certification given to those already on the job to provide them with better credentials. This exam tests their knowledge in the industry, giving employers peace of mind that their employee is highly qualified for the tasks at hand.

Keep in mind, the less education you have, the more on the job training is needed. Those with a civil engineering master’s degree won’t need much. Most people who only receive their associate’s degree will spend at least a few years working as an assistant to a construction manager. With a certificate, it will be longer. There are also master’s degrees in construction management available.

Most employers also want a manager who has previous experience in the construction industry. It’s beneficial to hire someone who already knows the ins and out’s of the business.

Best schools for people interested in construction management

1.Everglades– Boca Raton, Florida

This school is known for its Bachelors of Science Degree with a major in Construction Management. It provides students with a broad base of knowledge in both the construction industry and business management.

Graduates have a 59% graduation rate, and after completing 42 months and 123 credits, are prepared with the ability to manage on a construction site.

Important topics learned in this program:

  • Business and management applications
  • Law and regulations
  • Planning and design
  • Theories and methods used in the construction field

This program is a four-year degree, and all first-year students must submit their SAT/ACT scores and high school or GED transcript. If you do not have SAT/ACT scores, students must take an assessment test before starting classes.

2.Colorado State University-Pueblo, Colorado

Colorado State offers a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management that provides class schedules that include education in Civil Engineering Technology and Business Management, along with courses in Construction Management.

This program educated all students in the fast-paced industry and gave them the tools necessary to keep and exceed. Colorado states prepare their students for careers in jobs such as Construction Manager, General Contractor, Project manager, field consultant, and more.

Important classes included:

  • Building and construction drawing
  • OSHA standards
  • Construction documents
  • Managing a Construction Business
  • Project Management for Construction

This degree is a four-year program but does offer summer classes to speed up the process. They also part-time, night classes, and online classes to make your education flexible. Students who attend this school have a graduation rate of 32%.

3. Indiana State University -Terra Haute, Indiana (Online)

Indiana State University has an average graduation rate of 41%. They offer a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management program that is 100% online. This program focuses on construction management and the importance of construction site knowledge in all areas.

All professors in this program are experienced professionals in this field and offer knowledge from hands-on work. Once students complete their 120 credit hours, the school offers to help with job placement and job training sites.

Important classes included

  • Construction methods materials and equipment
  • Government construction contracting
  • Construction scheduling
  • Soil laboratory
  • Legal Environment and business
  • Principals in accounting

This program prepares you for managerial positions in an intense on-site position, giving you the information and expertise in everything from safety to equipment knowledge.

4. Oregon State University (On-line certificate)

Oregon State offers an online certificate program, getting your foot in the door to becoming a construction manager. This program is a self-paced, 12-credit course that educates students on effective organization and management skills. It also covers technology lessons and tips for how to manage effectively.

This course is perfect for those already in the construction business and who want to move up in the industry. It’s also ideal for those who would like to work under a project manager or construction manager for a few years after the course completion. 

Important classes included:

  • Project Organization
  • Project risk and Issue Management
  • Managing Projects and Stakeholders
  • Resource and cost planning
  • Leadership and building high-performance teams

This option is an instructor lead, an eight-month program preparing students interested in moving up in their current company or just getting ready to enter the field. You can take the five courses offered individually for informational purposes or take them all at the same to obtain your certificate.

5. Mesa Community College– Mesa, Arizona

The Associates of Applied Science in Construction Management from Mesa Community College offers students 2-years of classes designed to prepare them for an exclusive look in the industry. Offering a higher education for someone already in the construction business, or getting a new student on the right track for future education in the field.

This option is a 63 to 73 credit program. It gives students the education they need to manage a construction project from start to finish.

Important classes included:

  • Construction and culture
  • Cost estimate
  • Construction safety OSHA
  • Public speaking
  • Introduction to Construction

Students who finish these classes with a C or above will then be qualified to move on to their Bachelors of Science in Construction Management Program. Or will be awarded their Associate Degree in Applied Science in Construction Management and give them a great start to a future career after working as an assistant to a current construction manager or similar position.

6.Wentworth Institute of Technology (online)

Wentworth offers a 100% online bachelor’s Degree Program in the Science of Construction Management. This school has recognized the large growth in the industry in recent years and offers its students the education needed to be successful.

This program keeps up with the ever-growing technological advancements in the construction world. It works toward giving students knowledge of computer programs extremely important to the projects they will work on throughout their careers.

Important classes included:

  • Construction graphics
  • Contracts and Codes
  • Structural Design
  • Financing Construction Projects
  • Accounting
  • Business Law

Students will need to complete 120 credits through-out this 4-year program.  After completion, every student will be prepared to enter the career field with all the knowledge needed to land a great job in Construction Management

7. California State University– Sacramento, California. 

California State prides itself on offering one of the top programs designed to prepare its students for a great career in the construction industry. With a Bachelors in Construction Management, you will leave California State with all the education you need to be successful and prepared on any job site.

The program provides all the necessary information to give each student the skills to manage any construction project. Each student will leave this program understanding how to run any job site safely.

Important classes included:

  • Construction survey and layout
  • Fundamentals of Construction Management
  • Construction graphics
  • Legal aspects of Construction
  • Advanced Estimating and Bidding
  • Planning, Scheduling, and Control

This four-year degree program requires 134 credits to graduate. To earn your degree, you must hold at least a C in each of your classes. To enter the program, you must have completed High school chemistry (one year), mechanical drawing (one year), and trigonometry (one-half year). If these are not completed, you will have to take them in addition to the other classes to receive your degree.

8. New York University – New York, New York

At New York University, they offer a construction management master’s degree. This class is for those who want the education and skills for every project in the construction field, all over the world. Students have access to an advanced lab giving them hands-on training with the highest technology available to a school. 

These courses focus on managing all construction projects, from design and construction to legal actions and lawsuits. Once this degree program is complete, each student will have all the skills needed to be an effective project manager.

Important classes included:

  • Construction FInance Cost Control
  • The Construction Process
  • Cost Estimating
  • Construction Safety Management
  • Construction Scheduling
  • Negotiation and Dispute Resolutions.

Each application submitted to the New York University is seriously considered, and not everyone is accepted. To be considered, you have to have multiple recommendations along with a Bachelor’s Degree completed. Once approved, you can choose from attending classes remotely or in class for the duration of social distancing due to the pandemic.

How to Decide Which School is Right For You

Many programs and schools offer you the education you will need to be qualified in construction management. However, depending on your current education and profession, not all of the programs will be right for you.

Something things to consider when shopping for the right program:

  • Cost of tuition- The cost of tuition can vary quite a bit from school to school, make sure you are choosing a college you can afford.
  • Location- You have so many options these days on how to attend classes. YOu can find a school close to home, stay in a dorm on campus, and go to school online.
  • Choose a program that fits your lifestyle– You can go to college full time or part-time. You also have the choice of learning online or taking hybrid classes. Many schools also give you the choice of normal hours, weekend classes, or even night classes.
  • Choose classes wisely– Choose a college or program that only gives you the courses you need.`If you have been working on a construction site for 5 years and decide you want to move up in the company, a certification or associate’s degree may be enough.

Jobs Similar to Construction Management

If you go through schooling and training only to find out Construction management is just not the right fit for you, here are a few other occupations you may consider. You will already be educated and fully qualified for these positions with the Degree you have received in Construction Management.

  1. Construction coordinator

The construction coordinator oversees building projects and makes sure everything is going according to plan. They are in charge of the budget per project and keeping materials supplied. A construction coordinator only requires a 2-year degree and reports directly to the construction manager who is overseeing the entire job. 

Construction coordinator estimated average annual salary: $57,209

  1. Project Engineer I

A Project Engineer’s main duties are to provide technical support to the construction crew. They are in charge of monitoring projects to determine if they are staying on budget and on time, assisting in determining the budget of a project before the construction phase, prepares technical documents and crew schedules. The Project Engineer reports directly to the Construction Manager.

A project Engineer I Constructions estimated average annual salary: $70,658

  1. Construction Worker Supervisor-

The Construction Worker Supervisor is in charge of the entire crew working on a specific project. They are responsible for the reputation portrayed by the company and the work completed by their crew. A Construction Worker Supervisor makes all decisions for the onsite project and is usually the first one at the site each day and the last to leave each night.

Estimated average annual salary of a Construction Worker Supervisor:  $60,000.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the construction industry is on the incline with the advancement in technology and the continuous need for new buildings, bridges, roadways, and so much more. This field will always require more managers to oversee projects and make sure everything is done correctly and on-time. If you are interested in a career in construction, this is a great field to consider. 

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