What you need to know
Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a wide variety of projects, including the building of all types of public, residential, commercial, and industrial structures, as well as roads, memorials, and bridges
Many construction managers have a main office but spend most of their time working out of a field office at a construction site, where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities.
The need to meet deadlines and respond to emergencies often requires construction managers to work many hours.
Some of the things construction managers might do:
- Prepare cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
- Interpret and explain contracts and technical information to other professionals
- Report work progress and budget matters to clients
- Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction specialists
- Select subcontractors and schedule and coordinate their activities
- Respond to work delays, emergencies, and other problems
- Comply with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations
- Analytical skills. Construction managers plan project strategies, handle unexpected issues and delays, and solve problems that arise over the course of the project. In addition, many managers use cost-estimating and planning software to determine costs and the materials and time required to complete projects.
- Business skills. Construction managers address budget matters and coordinate and supervise workers. Choosing competent staff and establishing good working relationships with them is critical.
- Customer-service skills. Construction managers are in constant contact with owners, inspectors, and the public. They must form good working relationships with these people and ensure their needs are met.
- Decision-making skills. Construction managers choose personnel and subcontractors for specific tasks and jobs. Often, these choices must be made quickly to meet deadlines and budgets.
- Initiative. Self-employed construction managers generate their own business opportunities and must be proactive in finding new clients. They often market their services and bid on jobs, and they must also learn to perform special home improvement projects, such as installing mosaic glass tiles, sanding wood floors, and insulating homes.
- Leadership skills. Construction managers must effectively delegate tasks to construction workers, subcontractors, and other lower level managers.
- Speaking skills. Construction managers must give clear orders, explain complex information to construction workers and clients, and discuss technical details with other building specialists, such as architects. Self-employed construction managers must get their own projects, so the need to sell their services to potential clients is critical.
- Technical skills. Construction managers must know construction methods and technologies and must be able to interpret contracts and technical drawings.
- Time-management skills. Construction managers must meet deadlines. They ensure that construction phases are completed on time so that the next phase can begin as scheduled. For instance, a building’s foundation cannot be constructed until the land is completely excavated.
- Writing skills. Construction managers must write proposals, plans, and budgets, as well as document the progress of the work for clients and others involved in the building process.
The average pay for construction managers in the United States ranges from $56,880 to $169,070 as of May 2020.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
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.
Although there are various ways to enter this occupation, it is becoming increasingly important for construction managers to have a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering. As construction processes become more complex, employers are placing greater importance on specialized education.
More than 100 colleges and universities offer accredited bachelor’s degree programs in construction science, building science, or construction engineering. These programs include courses in project control and management, design, construction methods and materials, cost estimation, building codes and standards, and contract administration. Courses in mathematics and statistics are also relevant.