Construction managers typically do the following:
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.
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.
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.