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What Construction Managers Do About this section

Construction managers
Construction managers often collaborate with engineers and architects.

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

Duties

Construction managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
  • Interpret and explain contracts and technical information to other professionals
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction specialists
  • Select subcontractors and schedule and coordinate their activities
  • Monitor projects and report progress and budget matters to the construction firm and clients
  • Respond to work delays, emergencies, and other problems with the project
  • Ensure that the project complies with legal requirements, such building and safety codes

Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a variety of projects, including building public, residential, commercial, and industrial structures as well as roads and bridges. Either a general contractor or a construction manager oversees the construction phase of a project, including personnel, but a construction manager may also consult with the client during the design phase to help refine construction plans and control costs.

These managers coordinate construction processes so that projects meet design specifications and are completed on time within budget. Some construction managers are responsible for several projects—for example, building multiple homes—at once.

Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, civil engineers, and tradesworkers, including stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Depending on the project, construction managers may interact with lawyers or government officials. For example, when installing municipal sidewalks, construction managers may confer with city inspectors to ensure that the project meets required material specifications.

For large building projects, such as industrial complexes, a top-level construction manager may hire other managers for different aspects of the project. Each construction manager then oversees completion of a specific phase, such as structural foundation or electrical work, and the top-level manager coordinates with the managers to complete the entire project.

To maximize efficiency, construction managers often perform the tasks of a cost estimator. They use cost-estimating and planning software to allocate time and money for scheduling project deadlines.

Work Environment About this section

construction managers image
Construction managers supervise on-site activity.

Construction managers held about 476,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of construction managers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 38%
Specialty trade contractors 17
Nonresidential building construction 16
Residential building construction 10
Heavy and civil engineering construction 8

Construction managers may have a main office but spend most of their time in a field office onsite, where they monitor projects and make decisions about construction activities. Those who manage multiple projects must visit the different worksites, which may require travelling out of state or being away from home for extended periods.

Work Schedules

Most construction managers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Construction managers’ work schedules may vary. They may need to work extra hours to meet deadlines, and they may have to be on call 24 hours a day to respond to project emergencies. 

How to Become a Construction Manager About this section

Construction managers
New construction managers are typically hired as assistants and work under the guidance of an experienced manager.

Construction managers typically need a bachelor’s degree, and they learn management techniques through on-the-job training. Large construction firms may prefer to hire candidates who have both construction experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. Firms might hire as managers those who have a high school diploma and many years of experience in a construction trade; however, these people may be more likely to work as self-employed general contractors than to be hired as construction managers.

Education

Although they have various paths to enter the occupation, construction managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering. The more complex construction processes become, the more importance employers place on candidates having relevant education.

Bachelor’s degree programs in construction-related majors often include courses in project control and management, design, construction methods and materials, and cost estimation. Courses in business, communications, and mathematics are also helpful.

Some construction managers earn an associate’s degree in construction management or construction technology. An associate’s degree combined with work experience may be typical for managers who supervise small projects.

Candidates who have a high school diploma and several years of relevant work experience may qualify to become construction managers. However, these people may be more likely to work as self-employed general contractors than to be hired as construction managers.

Training

Newly hired construction managers typically work under the guidance of an experienced manager for up to 1 year. Depending on the firm, however, this on-the-job training may last for several years.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Construction experience is important for these managers, especially for ones who do not have a bachelor’s degree. For construction managers to qualify for jobs solely through experience, they must have worked many years in carpentry, masonry, or other construction specialties.

College students who participate in internships and cooperative education programs may gain experience through such programs.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some states require construction managers to be licensed. For more information, contact your state licensing board.

Professional certification, although not required, demonstrates a particular level of knowledge and experience.

The Construction Management Association of America awards the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) credential to workers who have the required experience and who pass a technical exam. Candidates complete a self-study course that covers topics related to construction managers, including the manager’s role, legal issues, and risk allocation.

The American Institute of Constructors awards the Associate Constructor (AC) and Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) credential to candidates who meet its requirements, which include passing construction exams.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Construction managers must be able to plan strategies, investigate project cost variances, and solve problems over the course of a project.

Business skills. Construction managers need to prepare and follow project budgets, hire and manage staff, and coordinate with other workers and managers. Self-employed construction managers must generate their own business opportunities and be proactive in finding new clients.

Communication skills. Construction managers must be able to clearly convey information orally and in writing. In addition to talking with owners and clients, managers must give clear orders and explain complex information to construction workers and discuss technical details with inspectors and other specialists, such as engineers.

Decisionmaking skills. Construction managers need to choose personnel and subcontractors for specific tasks and jobs. They also must make myriad judgment calls about projects to ensure that they adhere to deadlines and budgets.

Leadership skills. Construction managers must effectively delegate tasks to construction workers, subcontractors, and other lower level managers to ensure that projects are completed accurately and on time.

Technical skills. Construction managers must have an applied knowledge of concepts and practices common in the industry, such as construction technologies, contracts, and technical drawings.

Pay About this section

Construction Managers

Median annual wages, May 2019

Construction managers

$95,260

Other management occupations

$91,300

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

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.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for construction managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Heavy and civil engineering construction $98,870
Nonresidential building construction 97,100
Specialty trade contractors 92,710
Residential building construction 85,800

In addition to salary, construction managers may also earn bonuses. Their earnings depend on the amount of business they generate.

Most construction managers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Construction managers’ work schedules may vary. They may need to work extra hours to meet deadlines, and they may have to be on call 24 hours a day to respond to project emergencies.

Job Outlook About this section

Construction Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Construction managers

8%

Total, all occupations

4%

Other management occupations

3%

 

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.

In addition, a growing emphasis on retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient should create jobs for general contractors, who are more likely to manage the renovation and upgrading of buildings than oversee new large-scale construction projects.

Construction processes and building technology are becoming more complex, requiring greater oversight and spurring demand for specialized management personnel.

Job Prospects

About 34,700 openings for construction managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Job opportunities for construction managers are expected to be good. Specifically, jobseekers with a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering, coupled with construction experience, should have the best job prospects.

Employment of construction managers, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, workers in the construction industry may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, peak periods of building activity may produce abundant job opportunities for construction managers.

Employment projections data for construction managers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Construction managers

11-9021 476,700 517,100 8 40,400 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about construction manager certification, visit

American Institute of Constructors

For more information about construction management and construction manager certification, visit

Construction Management Association of America

For more information on accredited construction science and management educational programs, visit

ABET

American Council for Construction Education

NCCER

For information about opportunities for military veterans, visit

Helmets to Hardhats

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Construction Managers

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