5 things to know about getting a construction management degree

Suppose you’re committed to a career in the construction industry and are looking for a way to get ahead. In that case, a construction management degree is definitely worth considering. Construction management degrees aren’t always necessary for becoming a construction manager; however, they are very favorable in the eyes of employers and clients.

It’s essential to understand that if your end goal is to become a construction manager, foregoing a construction management degree will save you some money. Still, you’ll have to work doubly hard in the field, gaining experience, to prove you know your stuff.

A construction management degree can fast-track your way to a management position in the construction industry. However, there are many pros and cons to weigh before deciding to go the route of a degree. Here are five things to know how to about getting a construction management degree.

Proud student who recently graduated

1. Monetary and time costs

Where you are in your life journey will ultimately determine if a construction management degree is the right choice. Getting any degree is costly, but student loans can help cover the costs. Like most degrees, you can get four levels of education that increase in time and monetary expenses as you go up the ladder: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees.

Perhaps a more crucial factor to consider, other than the monetary investment necessary for these degrees, is the investment of time. A degree of any sort takes a commitment of at least a couple of years. However, it’s critical to remember that a degree doesn’t automatically grant you a construction management job right out of college.

Construction companies require experience on top of a degree. In fact, if you want to become a Certified Construction Manager (which is also good to have on your resume), you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in construction management and four years of construction industry experience.

The bottom line is, there’s no easy path to becoming a construction manager. Consider your current lifestyle and understand that you’ll have to make a lot of sacrifices of both time and money.

2. Geographic considerations

According to College Factual, approximately 152 colleges and universities offer construction management degrees in the U.S. Depending on where you live, it’s very likely a college within your state offers coursework in this field. But it might not be close to where you live.

Although many colleges and universities offer online classes, it might not be the case for your school of choice. Also, suppose you’re interested in applying to one of the top 15 schools for construction management. In that case, 8 of the 15 are in the same four states. The point is, if you’re set on a construction management degree, you may need to relocate or travel.

3. Economic considerations

The success of the construction industry depends heavily on good economic conditions. From 2019 to 2020, construction management degrees were the 153rd most popular degree, and there were 3,228 obtained in that year. That’s a 3.2% decrease from the previous year.

The decrease is most likely due to the pandemic and uncertainty surrounding the economy. However, data from the Census Bureau shows new single-family home construction in August 2021 was up by 6% (±1.4%) above the revised July rate of 1,630,000 and is 13.5% (±1.8%) above the August 2020 rate of 1,522,000.

It’s impossible to know for sure what the economy will look like by the time you get a construction management degree. However, making informed decisions backed by economic forecasts can help you determine the best time to obtain industry experience and when going for a degree is a better choice. During times of economic downturn, many people turn to education to be better prepared when things go on the uptick.

Construction manager speaking with contractors

4. Getting accepted to a construction management program

If you’re confident you want to get your degree in construction management, you’ll need to know the requirements. You must have a high school diploma with a GPA that meets or exceeds the conditions of your school of choice. If you’re entering into a university straight from high school, you’ll need to have SAT/ACT scores that also meet their requirements.

If you’re an adult, the above can apply depending on your school of choice. However, some schools take work experience and letters of recommendation instead of standardized test scores. Adults (and students) seeking secondary education should also consider the College-Level Examination Program. The CLEP program offers testing that allows adults to earn college credit for prerequisite college courses. This route can be a great way to save time and money on your path toward a degree.

5. The benefits of a construction management degree

The primary benefit of obtaining a construction management degree is that it has become an industry standard. Of those in construction management, 76% have a bachelor’s degree. The other clear benefit is your earning potential. The median starting salary for construction managers is around $62,000 a year.

Final thoughts

Currently, the job growth projections for construction managers are promising at 11% until 2026. If you’re sure that construction management is for you, it’s in your best interest to obtain a construction management degree. Just be prepared to dedicate a lot of time, money, and effort toward your goal.

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