What is a construction manager?

What is a construction manager? If you’ve ever found yourself considering that question or what the role of a construction manager is, then you’re in the right place. If asked, most people outside the construction industry don’t have the answers to these questions. Perhaps they think construction managers sit in an office at a construction job site and carry out the same sort of duties that managers in other businesses perform.

However, the truth is that most managers have duties that are specific to the industries they’re in. The same holds true for construction managers. For instance, those who are good at their jobs are well-educated and have in-depth knowledge of building codes, construction practices, and industry-specific software.

They assemble teams of construction workers, order materials and equipment, and otherwise plan and supervise entire construction projects. Typical workers and artisans they work with are contractors and day laborers. Other professionals with whom they interact regularly are engineers and project architects.

Construction managers may work at the main office when doing administrative tasks. Still, most of the time, they can be found at the primary construction site. Some of their main tasks are managing people while keeping the construction project on schedule and within budget.

Construction Manager Talking To Architects

What are a construction manager’s responsibilities?

Specific tasks often differ from project to project. However, many responsibilities are the same, no matter what project a construction manager is working on. For example, a main responsibility on all building sites is keeping the workplace free of safety hazards.

Much of the job revolves around quality management. The construction manager must oversee a large team of contractors and subcontractors. Ultimately, the manager is responsible for the quality of their work. If their work is substandard, it will reflect on the construction manager’s professionalism. Ensuring that no one is cutting corners is, therefore, a primary consideration.

A few other primary responsibilities include managing costs and contracts. For instance, the construction manager must help ensure that projects don’t go over budget and that agreements between the construction company and contractors are honored.

In addition, the construction manager acts as a communications conduit. It’s that individual’s responsibility to make sure that everyone involved in the project is kept well-informed.

Are construction managers also project managers?

Although there are a lot of parallels between the two, there are also differences. Some of the similarities include the fact that both construction managers and project managers plan, organize, and direct whole projects for their respective companies. Both work to ensure that these projects are kept within scope and finished on time and within budget.

However, construction managers manage projects that are quite different from those of a typical project manager. The primary difference is that construction managers only oversee construction projects. In contrast, a project manager might actually manage broader projects of which construction is only a part.

How can you become a construction manager?

One of the first things to ask yourself is if you have the qualities necessary to become a construction manager. Do you have experience working in construction? Most have worked in some capacity at a building site as a contractor or subcontractor at one time or other during the course of their careers.

What about your communication skills? Are you an excellent communicator? Have you ever led a team before? Can you multitask?

At a bare minimum, do you hold a bachelor’s degree? Most construction managers have gone to school to earn a degree in civil engineering or in construction science or management. Many also took courses in mathematics, statistics, information technology, and architecture.

Their education doesn’t stop there, either. When it comes to construction-manager duties, they must also gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of subjects like cost estimation, scheduling, site design, planning, and how to enforce building codes.

Plus, you should work to obtain a few industry certifications. For instance, getting certified by the American Institute of Constructors (AIC) and The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) can increase your attractiveness to employers.

Construction Site Manager With Young Workers
goodluz/Shutterstock

The right choice

As a profession, construction management is gaining attraction since the need for managers is only expected to increase, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plus, the job pays well: Construction managers can expect to make about $50,000 per year on the extreme low end, while those in the top percentile will take home almost $150,000.

As a construction manager, you’ll almost certainly find yourself rising with the sun (or earlier). Your days will be spent hiring contractors, inspecting electrical or plumbing problems, negotiating contracts, and more.

Suppose you’re able to inspire workers while keeping your assigned project running smoothly. In that case, a construction manager’s career just might be the right choice for you.

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