Construction Managers

Summary

construction managers image
Construction managers need to coordinate activities on large projects.
Quick Facts: Construction Managers
2012 Median Pay $82,790 per year
$39.80 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 485,000
Job Outlook, 2012-22 16% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 78,200

What Construction Managers Do

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from development to completion.

Work Environment

Many construction managers work from a main office, but most work out of a field office at the 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 long hours.

How to Become a Construction Manager

Large construction firms increasingly prefer candidates with both construction experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. However, some managers may qualify with a high school diploma and by working many years in a construction trade, although most will qualify primarily as self-employed general contractors.

Pay

The median annual wage for construction managers was $82,790 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Construction managers will be needed as overall construction activity increases over the coming decade. Those with a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering, coupled with construction experience, will have the best job prospects.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of construction managers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about construction managers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Construction Managers Do About this section

Construction managers
Construction managers often collaborate with engineers and architects.

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from development to completion.

Duties

Construction managers typically do the following:

  • 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, schedule, and coordinate subcontractor activities
  • Respond to work delays, emergencies, and other problems
  • Comply with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations

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. Although most managers oversee construction projects from start to finish, some consult with developers and builders on construction related issues.

Construction managers oversee specialized contractors and other personnel. They schedule and coordinate all construction processes so that projects meet design specifications. They ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. Some managers may be responsible for several projects at once—for example, the construction of multiple apartment buildings.  

Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, civil engineers, and a variety of trade workers, including stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Projects may require specialists in everything from structural steel and painting to landscaping, paving roads, and excavating sites. Depending on the project, construction managers may interact with lawyers and local government officials. For example, when working on city-owned property or municipal buildings, managers sometimes confer with city inspectors to ensure that all regulations are met.

For projects too large to be managed by one person, such as office buildings and industrial complexes, a top-level construction manager hires other construction managers to be in charge of different aspects of the project. For example, each construction manager would oversee a specific phase of the project, such as structural foundation, plumbing, or electrical work, and choose subcontractors to complete it. The top-level construction manager would then collaborate and coordinate with the other construction managers.

To maximize efficiency and productivity, construction managers often perform the tasks of a cost estimator. They use specialized cost-estimating and planning software to allocate time and money in order to complete their projects. Many managers also use software to plan the best way to get materials to the building site.

Work Environment About this section

construction managers image
Construction managers supervise on-site activity.

Construction managers held about 485,000 jobs in 2012. Approximately 57 percent were self-employed.

The industries that employed the most construction managers in 2012 were as follows: 

Construction of buildings17%
Specialty trade contractors13
Heavy and civil engineering construction5

Many construction managers work from a main office, but most work out of a field office at the construction site, where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities. For those managing multiple projects, frequent travel between sites is required.

Injuries and Illnesses

Construction managers have a lower rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Work Schedules

Most construction managers work full time. However, the need to meet deadlines and to respond to delays and emergencies often requires long hours. Many managers also may be on call 24 hours a day.

How to Become a Construction Manager About this section

Construction managers
Construction managers make sure their projects comply with building codes.

Large construction firms increasingly prefer candidates with both construction experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field. However, some managers may qualify with a high school diploma and by working many years in a construction trade, although most will qualify primarily as self-employed general contractors.

Education

It is 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.

A number of 2-year colleges offer construction management or construction technology programs. An associate’s degree combined with work experience is typical for managers who supervise smaller projects.  

A few universities offer master’s degree programs in construction management.

Those with a high school diploma and several years of relevant work experience may qualify to become a construction manager, although most will do so primarily as self-employed general contractors.

Training

All new construction managers are initially hired as assistants and work under the guidance of an experienced manager. This training period may last several months to several years, depending on the firm.

Work Experience

Practical construction experience is important when entering the occupation, because it reduces the need for initial on-the-job training. Internships, cooperative education programs, and previous work in the construction industry can provide that experience. Some construction managers become qualified solely through extensive construction experience, spending many years in carpentry, masonry, or other construction specialties.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification is becoming increasingly important for construction managers. Certification is valuable because it can demonstrate knowledge and experience.

The Construction Management Association of America awards the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation to workers who have the required experience and who pass a technical exam. It is recommended that applicants for this certification complete a self-study course that covers the professional role of a construction manager, legal issues, the allocation of risk, and other topics related to construction management.

The American Institute of Constructors awards the Associate Constructor (AC) and Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) designations to candidates who meet its requirements and pass the appropriate construction exams.

Some states require licensure for construction managers overseeing a public project. For more information, contact your state licensing board.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Most managers plan a project strategy, 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 how much materials are needed and the time and cost 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 communicate work plans clearly, and explain work stoppages when they occur.

Decision-making skills. Construction managers choose personnel and subcontractors for specific tasks and jobs. Often, these decisions 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, bid on jobs, and must learn to perform special home improvement projects such as installing mosaic glass tiles, sanding wood floors, and insulating homes.

Leadership skills. Managers must effectively delegate tasks to construction workers, subcontractors, and other lower level managers.

Speaking skills. 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. 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.

Pay About this section

Construction Managers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Management occupations

$93,910

Construction managers

$82,790

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for construction managers was $82,790 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $144,520.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for construction managers in the top three industries employing these managers were as follows:

Heavy and civil engineering construction$85,130
Construction of buildings81,830
Specialty trade contractors79,470

Salaried construction managers also may earn bonuses and overtime pay. About 57 percent of construction managers were self-employed in 2012. Their earnings are highly dependent on the amount of business they generate.

Most construction managers work full time. However, the need to meet deadlines and to respond to delays and emergencies often requires long hours. Many managers also may be on call 24 hours a day.

Job Outlook About this section

Construction Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Construction managers

16%

Total, all occupations

11%

Management occupations

7%

 

Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Construction managers will be needed as overall construction activity expands. Population and business growth will result in the construction of many new residences, office buildings, retail outlets, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and other structures over the coming decade. Also, the need to improve portions of the national infrastructure will 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.

To ensure that projects are completed on time and under budget, firms are increasingly focusing on hiring construction managers. Furthermore, construction processes and building technology are becoming more complex, requiring greater oversight and spurring demand for specialized management personnel. Sophisticated technology, worker safety, environmental protection, and new regulations setting standards for building and construction material also will drive employment growth.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities for qualified construction managers are expected to be good. Specifically, those with a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering, coupled with construction experience, will have the best job prospects.

Although employment growth will provide many new jobs, a substantial number of construction managers are expected to retire over the next decade, resulting in additional job openings.

Employment of construction managers, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, workers in the construction industry may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, peak periods of building activity may produce abundant job opportunities for construction managers.

Employment projections data for construction managers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Construction managers

11-9021 485,000 563,200 16 78,200 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of construction managers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Architects

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor’s degree $73,090
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor’s degree $124,870
Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, construct, supervise, operate, and maintain large construction projects and systems, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Bachelor’s degree $79,340
Cost estimators

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a particular industry or type of product.

Bachelor’s degree $58,860
Landscape architects

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects plan and design land areas for parks, recreational facilities, private homes, campuses, and other open spaces.

Bachelor’s degree $64,180
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Construction Managers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm (visited November 26, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014