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How to become a certified construction manager

Construction managers can make the big bucks — that’s why many people interested in building and architecture want to become one. If you’re wondering how to become a certified construction manager, the short answer is: It’s not easy. Before we dive into how you can become a certified construction manager, we should clarify some details  on the role itself.

A construction manager doing business
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What is a construction manager?

A construction manager is essentially head of all aspects of a building project. Their scope of work includes forecasting and budgeting costs, hiring and supervising workers, ensuring work site safety, and scheduling.

A construction manager usually works closely with a construction project manager, whose job is to make sure they meet the building deadlines and to oversee all aspects of construction. There is always a construction manager for any type of construction project, whether it’s a new road, a high-rise building, or an oil pipeline.

There are semantics when it comes to supervisory titles on a construction site. Sometimes a construction manager is also referred to as a building superintendent or foreperson. All are high-level managers in the construction industry, however, what’s important is how their scope of work is defined within the building contract with the property owners and developers. According to the American Institute of Architects, a nonprofit organization dedicated to standardizing architectural practices, there are two types of construction managers.

Construction manager as advisor (CMa) family

A CMa is used on small to large-scale projects and acts as an independent adviser on construction management matters through the course of both design and construction. This means the construction manager might manage the details of how a building is constructed, but the property owner oversees the construction contractors and subcontractors.

Construction manager as a constructor (CMc) family

A CMc is fully involved in the construction project, managing all aspects of the build. They act as the lead contractor and hire and manage any subcontractors. The CMc may also take part in the actual construction of the building through their own work or their employees.

Construction managers overseeing a project
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Becoming a certified construction manager

Similar to a CEO of a corporation, education and experience pave the way toward a career as a certified construction manager. Most construction managers are required to have a bachelor’s degree in construction management, industrial engineering, or a related field. Many go a step further and obtain a master’s degree in a related field. Ambitious students often apply for internships during the education phase to better understand a construction manager’s responsibilities.

After their education is complete, aspiring construction managers must gain work experience. Although it’s possible to skip some steps and enter into higher management roles, it’s common (and suggested) that they start at the bottom in the area of construction they’re most interested in. By starting at the bottom, a construction manager learns more aspects of the work that takes place on a building site, and can relate to the workers they will one day manage since they were once in their shoes.

The final step is passing the construction management certification exam. Candidates must have at least their bachelor’s and four years of construction work experience. Someone who has worked in construction for eight or more years is eligible to take the Certified Construction Management exam, which was created by the Construction Management Association of America. A person has three chances to take the CCM exam and pass before becoming ineligible. There are many books and study courses dedicated to helping you prepare for the CCM certification test.

How much do construction managers make?

All that hard work pays off. The median starting salary is around $79,000, with higher-end salaries being upward of $125,000. Construction manager salaries vary on the size, scale, and overall budget of a project.

Final thoughts

The role of a construction manager is essential to any building project. Their knowledge and building expertise are critical for construction to run smoothly and efficiently. If construction management is a field of interest for you, be prepared to work hard and pay your dues. Whether you decide to get a bachelor’s degree or attend the school of hard knocks, you’re still looking at an eight-year or longer time commitment before you can assume the title of construction manager.

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What is the typical salary for a construction management job?
Construction manager wearing a hard hat

Construction management has been a high-demand career field for several decades and continues to grow. A construction manager, often also referred to as a construction supervisor, is the primary overseer of the entire project and the process. Most construction manager roles often require much more than overseeing the building project.

Given this is a career field still in steady demand, many looking to get into the field may wonder what the job entails and how much a construction manager makes. Therefore, let’s explore the typical salary for construction management careers and what's involved in this occupation. 

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How to create a memorable food cart menu
Food truck with menu and person standing out front

Food trucks are a popular business for many entrepreneurs, aspiring chefs, and restaurant owners. They're a great way to test out smaller menus and specialized cuisine without the startup costs of opening a restaurant. Many food truck owners go on to establish permanent locations in areas where their goods sell very well.
If you want to set up a restaurant one day or try your hand at operating a food truck, you need a solid menu. Creating a menu isn't always easy. You might feel overwhelmed with limiting the menu. Business savvy types may focus too much on profit margins, neglecting the value of a menu with one costly (but revenue-building) specialty item.
Read on to learn what you need to know for carving out a solid food truck menu. You'll discover the most popular food truck items, how many items you should include, and what makes a good menu.
What are the most popular food truck items?
It should come as no surprise why some of these items hold such popularity as menu items. The following aren't just popular food truck cuisines, either. Many of these are adaptable for special diets. Some are perfect for prep, easy cleanup, and sale.
Think high-quality or specialty meats: bison, kangaroo, and gator. Consider ease and adjustability for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or, think of regional twists like Mexican, Cajun, and so on. Plus, you can adapt to keto, vegan, and vegetarian options, too. For quick and easy cooking, you can always rely on a burger.
Known for its rich spices and rice or flatbread base, Indian street food is perfect on a food truck menu. It's popular for taste, dietary options, and ease of consumption. Plus, cooking rice and prepping most sauce or curry bases are very straightforward.
Understandably a favorite, pizza isn't hard to prep ahead of time. And if you layout your food truck just right, you can customize pizza in many ways. Although making vegan options is harder, you can still cater to specific dietary needs and a wide variety of specialties with unique topping combos.
Loading up fried potatoes is easy. And if you want a standout factor, you can sell a simple burger or other entrees with one-of-a-kind specialty loaded fries on the side. You can quickly adapt fries to vegan needs, and you can even make a heart-healthy loaded fry entree. If you're wondering what these would look like, imagine how curious your customers might be.
Grilled cheese
Grilled cheese is doable for even the most novice cook, which is a solid, reliable staple food in kitchens everywhere. Finding a good location and sourcing quality ingredients can put this at the top of any food truck's potential menu.
For different dietary concerns, healthier options, convenience, and more, falafel is another multicultural street food. Customers love this dish, which is full of flavor and easy to eat on the go (often served in kebabs). Plus, you can cater to a wider variety of customers with this on your menu.
Mac 'n' cheese
Mac 'n' cheese is another staple, like grilled cheese or pizza. Not traditionally the healthiest, but often the tastiest option, you'll find this is easily adaptable, too. You can make it healthy with veggie-based pasta and you can jazz it up with seafood. You can even "veganize" it with vegan cheese. Your options are limitless.

How many items should be on a food truck menu?
Even knowing what the most popular food truck menu items are may not simplify your decision-making. Maybe you feel more overwhelmed than ever about how you should craft your menu. Here are a few tips for how you pare down your menu ideas.
Offer only essentials
The more specific your menu, the more essential every item on it is. Keeping your menu limited to only the most basic dishes, especially if you're adapting a restaurant's menu, can help reduce your choices.
Selling fewer items allows you to rotate out less popular items or sell new things as a weekly special. Reliable food helps people understand your brand and spread the word about your cuisine.
Rule of thumb
Most food trucks sell 5 to 12 items. These can vary based on how you wish to plan your menu, which could be based on how you source your food or choose to market. Sticking to a set menu streamlines purchasing, prep, marketing, and cleanup. And it keeps tight budgets in check.
Quality over quantity
Focus on the quality of the food you sell. If you make a grilled cheese, you want solid toasting bread. If you put bacon on loaded fries, make sure it's thick and flavorful. Quality ingredients stand out far more than selling tons of food. If you invest in quality, your customers will invest in your food.
What's a good food truck menu?
A good food truck menu follows a few rules. These help your truck stand out, cut costs, build customer interest, and grow your business.
Explore menu psychology
Avoid dollar signs on truck menus or your menu board. Customers should focus on your menu items and their descriptions, not the price. Customers often spend more this way.
Use bracketing to offer the same dish in two sizes. This makes customers feel like they're getting a good deal for more food at a slightly higher price.
Highlight special dishes
Put the most important menu items in the upper right-hand corner. It's the first place the eye goes. Plant your signature dish here for recognition and memorability.
Keep it clear and readable
Don't use columns of menu items. These force customers to compare prices, encouraging them to choose less expensive items. Suppose you can price items the same. 
Make your board easy to update, so customers recognize new foods, specials, and their options. If you want to try new dishes and experiment often, this can help.
Readability is important, too. Make sure you proofread your menu. Avoid fancy fonts and calligraphy anywhere outside of a logo or branding.

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Where do street food carts go each night? And how clean are they?
Business owner writing menu for food cart

Overnight parking and cleaning are often overlooked, but they're very important aspects of operating a food truck business. Without an area to store your food truck, you're looking at expensive insurance and lots of inconveniences. Most cities have commissaries with secure parking specific to this need.
You can deep clean, sanitize, and refuel at commissaries, too. If you're not worried about having enough space for upkeep to follow the health codes for your food truck, you also risk the future of your business. Not complying with regulations and ordinances is usually expensive with fees and fines and can result in license and permitting revocation.
Read on to learn all you need to know about these critical operational aspects of owning a food truck. Next time, you'll be prepared when it comes to parking and cleaning your food cart.

Where business owners put their food carts at night
Food trucks don't operate 24/7. That means they need a place to sit overnight. Experienced food truck owners know the best place to park is a commissary, which is somewhere you can fuel up and sanitize your truck. Here's a breakdown of the best places to park overnight.
Indoor parking
Your best parking area is space dedicated to larger vehicle indoor storage. This likely comes with a rental fee, but you're paying for more than parking. You're likely investing in decent security and protection from weather incidents.

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