Spotlights

Job Description

It takes a team to build a building, and someone has to oversee the entire project from beginning to end. Construction Managers, also known as general contractors or project managers, are involved at the earliest stages of planning, later going on to manage contractors and coordinate their efforts. They make sure realistic budgets and timeline are created and adhered to as closely as possible. They may also work on roads and bridges. 
 
Construction Managers wear many hats. Depending on the scope of a project, they could be assigned to one structure but in some cases they’ll get to juggle multiple projects simultaneously. For large jobs such as industrial complexes, there are often many managers assigned to focus on various phrases, with a lead manager in charge of them all. They work with a wide range of people in different fields, from trade workers like carpenters and electricians to engineers, architects, and heavy equipment operators. At times they’ll also engage with inspectors, government officials, and attorneys, which can require an entirely different set of professional skills. Construction Managers might even be tasked with running cost estimates or performing logistical planning to ensure all materials make it to their proper destinations. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Leading teams to ensure building projects are successful
  • Helping create structures that will house residents or businesses
  • Working in a field that greatly stimulates the economy and provides many jobs
  • Collaborating with city officials to grow and improve communities
2019 Employment
476,700
2029 Projected Employment
517,100
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Working Schedule
 

  • Construction Managers work at least full-time, and long days aren’t uncommon. Overtime may be needed, especially when deadlines are approaching or work is behind schedule. Overtime can include nights or weekends, and workers might need to be on call to respond to issues quickly. 

Typical Duties

  • Review job specs; plan and arrange all activities surrounding the work to be done
  • Assist with budgeting, cost estimation, and tracking
  • Determine types and numbers of workers needed
  • Order materials and supplies; perform logistical planning and tracking tasks
  • Outline feasible timelines for specific phases of work to be completed
  • Liaison with multiple agencies and affiliated staff to share job details and specifics and explain anything that is unclear
  • Consult stakeholders, managers, and supervisors on progress, problems, and proposed changes; adapt work plans based on obstacles or emergencies 
  • Work with associated engineers and architects
  • Hire contractors and assign work
  • Coordinate efforts of various teams and supervise work
  • Draft contracts and revisions 

Additional Responsibilities

  • Obtain any permits and licenses prior to beginning
  • Conduct or oversee mishap investigations
  • Conduct routine reviews to assess progress and performance
  • Enforce quality control measures and perform inspections as needed
  • Ensure work complies with specifications to include state, local, and federal guidelines such as environmental protection standards
Skills Needed on the Job

Soft Skills
 

  • Analytical 
  • Calm under pressure
  • Compassionate for workers
  • Decisive
  • Flexible and innovative
  • Good at multitasking
  • Integrity
  • Motivated and persistent 
  • Problem solver
  • Proficient writing and communication skills
  • Risk management 
  • Stamina
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Team player
  • Time management 

Technical Skills

  • Accounting tools such as SRC Cash Flow Forecasting
  • Analytical programs including ArenaSoft Estimating and Jobber Computer Plus
  • Scheduling and time accounting software 
  • Compliance software 
  • Computer aided design 
  • Enterprise resource planning 
  • Graphics software
  • Human resources software 
  • Industrial control software 
  • Inventory management 
  • Project management 
  • Spreadsheets
Different Types of Organizations
  • Heavy/civil engineering construction
  • Residential and nonresidential construction    
  • Self-employment
  • Specialty trade contractors    
Expectations and Sacrifices

Construction Managers have a ton of responsibility riding on their shoulders. They’re in charge of ensuring a project is completed properly, on budget and on schedule. When mistakes happen, they’re the ones who ultimately get looked at for solutions or potentially for blame. As a result they must make sacrifices of time and energy to keep everything running smoothly, no matter what it takes. This might translate into longer hours, more research, more hands-on supervising, maybe even firing a person or crew that isn’t performing up to expectations. Construction Managers should expect a fair amount of travel for some projects, and may need to work from more than one office, so flexibility and mobility are crucial. 

Current Trends

Construction projects are always in-works, whether its new structures or renovating and expanding existing ones. All these jobs require experienced Construction Managers who will make certain new buildings meet modern codes, comply with changing environmental standards, and are built to house residents, office personnel, stores, restaurants, students, etc. in a way that keeps them safe and secure from natural disasters or other unexpected hazards. 
 
Construction Managers must always be on the lookout for methods to increase efficiency and save money while complying with laws. Safety, sustainability, and “green construction” eco-friendly renovations help existing buildings and other structures last longer, be more high tech and energy efficient, and better protect those inside from risks (which ultimately shields owners from costly litigation). 
 
Knowledge of drone technology, augmented reality during pre-construction, incorporation of mobile tech for productivity boosting, and building information technology are all key for modern Construction Managers to learn about. Meanwhile, current modular and prefab construction trends are likely to continue in the coming years. 

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...

Construction Managers must possess a broad set of skills, from theoretical ideation and design to practical planning and implementation. Odds are workers in this career field held multiple interests in school, and perhaps approached work with a multidisciplinary mindset. They liked staying busy and having lots of things going on at once. 
 
While they were probably keen on hands-on experiences and working outdoors or in shops with tools, they may’ve been equally at-home with their heads buried in books or hunched over a laptop deep in research. They’re imaginative yet realistic, able to envision projects then develop actionable steps to bring ideas off the page or monitor and into the real world. 

Education and Training Needed
  • A bachelor’s degree and work experience are both preferred for most jobs
  • Bachelor’s degrees may be in Construction or Building Science, Construction Management, Architecture, Engineering, or closely related fields 
  • Typical courses include contract administration, design, cost estimation, materials, math, statistics, construction methods, and leadership 
    • Note, if a worker is a self-employed general contractor with substantial practical supervised work experience in various construction fields, they may qualify as a Construction Manager without a degree
    • For some employers, experience is more critical than academic qualification
  • Internships or co-op programs are fantastic sources of training; workers can expect On-The-Job training as well 
  • Certifications are another tool that prove one’s experience level, such as:
    • The American Institute of Constructors’ Associate Constructor and Certified Professional Constructor 
    • The Construction Management Association of America’s Certified Construction Manager cert
    • CMAA also offers eLearning professional development courses, including Standards of Practice, Leadership topics, On-Demand Conferences, and Exam Prep Tools
  • Certain states require licensure 
Things to look for in an university
  • According to O*Net, 90% of Construction Managers complete a bachelor’s, with the rest having a high school diploma or associate’s. Most without a degree are self-employed
  • There are many majors to choose from, but all engineering- or tech-related programs should be accredited by ABET, such as Construction Engineering
  • Ensure the program features as much practical hands-on experience as possible
  • Look for professional and student organizations that provide valuable learning opportunities and expand your network 
  • Screen the school and program statistics for acceptance and graduation rates
  • Try to find universities that help place graduates into good-paying jobs
  • Check out the school’s listed career resources; these auxiliary services are helpful for preparing resumes, doing mock interviews, and landing jobs or internships
  • College is expensive, so seek out scholarships offered by the school or department
Things to do in High School and College
  • Take as many college prep classes as you can that will apply to your major, as well as things like accounting, public speaking, writing, and other soft skills building courses
  • Volunteer to organize activities and practice your leadership skills as much as possible
  • Build your draft resume early on, and add to it when you complete a significant accomplishment at work or in school
  • Learn about the many local, state, and federal safety and building guidelines that will apply to where you want to work. Get to know potential stakeholder roles, too
  • Apply for internships to gain valuable practical exposure to the field
  • Talk with working Construction Managers, to include self-employed ones. Try to find a mentor or someone willing to explain what the job entails and things to watch out for, based on local experiences (for example, weather is a major factor is certain areas)
  • Watch videos to get a visual perspective on the duties required on-site, instead of just reading about them
Typical Roadmap
Construction Manager Gladeo Roadmap
How to land your 1st job
  • The more work experience and education you have, the better your odds of standing out to a hiring manager. Completing an internship can be very helpful! 
  • Holding certification or, if needed for your state, a license, will also put you above the competition
  • Don’t try to take on more than you can handle, if you don’t have the necessary qualifications listed in a job ad
  • Be honest about your background and offer tangible proof of your experience and knowledge, via certifications, resumes, letters of reference, portfolios, license, etc.
  • Offer hard statistics about how many people you’ve managed or supervised, dollar amounts of projects you’ve overseen, amounts saved due to your efforts, and other applicable numbers
  • Read ads and highlight words and phrases you can incorporate into your resume
  • Find openings through your professional network, as well as portals like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor 
  • Fill out your LinkedIn profile with in-depth details about projects you’ve finished
  • Keep your social media presence clean and professional; you never know who’s looking!
  • eSUB lists real-world questions and answers to prep for job interviews 
  • You might not wear formal business attire everyday to work in this job, but you should check out Indeed’s guide on What to Wear to an interview
How to Climb the Ladder
  • If you haven’t gotten your degree, knock it out unless you really don’t need it due to self-employment status 
  • Complete certifications like Associate Constructor, Certified Professional Constructor, or Certified Construction Manager
  • Look for specialty or advanced certs that pertain to the jobs you want in the future
  • Focus on mastering the skills you need to, while learning enough about the roles of your subordinates to know if they’re doing their jobs correctly or not
  • Hire and work with qualified personnel. Lead and manage, but learn to trust and not micromanage 
  • Plan ahead and anticipate potential risks and problems in order to mitigate them. Know emergency protocols for when things go wrong
  • Keep everyone on the same page and focused on their tasks
  • Build strong rapport with everyone you interact with, in particular other managers and supervisors who must lead their own teams
  • Set high expectations, treat workers with respect, and hold them accountable 
  • Demonstrate superb leadership and management qualities and set the example 
  • Engage with professional organizations and develop your reputation as an influential and prominent industry leader 
Recommended Resources

Websites

  • AACE International 
  • American Council for Construction Education
  • American Institute of Architects 
  • American Institute of Constructors 
  • American Society of Civil Engineers 
  • Construction Management Association of America
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research
  • Project Management Institute 
  • Society of American Military Engineers

Books

  • A Complete Introduction To Construction Supervisor, by Roberto Christison  
  • Certified Construction Manager Practice Exam, by Certified PRO
  • Construction Law for Managers, Architects, and Engineers, by Nancy J. White
  • Construction Project Manager’s Pocket Book, by Duncan Cartlidge 
  • Millennials' Guide to the Construction Trades: What No One Ever Told You About a Career in Construction, by Jennifer Wisdom and Karl Hughes
Plan B

Tackling a Construction Management project is a daunting task. Taking on multiple projects might drive some workers over the edge! If you’re interested in this field but don’t desire the full burden of duties Construction Managers must accept, why not browse through a few is similar occupations as listed on BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*Net Online? These sites offer a lots of alternatives, such as: 

  • Architects    
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers
  • Civil Engineers
  • Cost Estimators
  • Energy Engineers, Except Wind and Solar
  • Fire-Prevention and Protection Engineers
  • Landscape Architects
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialists
  • Transportation Engineers

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