Construction management is an ideal career for anyone with excellent analytical, customer service and decision-making skills. A construction manager is responsible for planning, budgeting, supervising and coordinating a construction project from start to end. The project may be for a commercial, residential, industrial or public structure. Construction managers also work hand-in-hand with architects, engineers and other construction workers. Additionally, they choose the most suitable subcontractors and schedule and coordinate their duties. All in all, being a construction manager is a promising profession with increasing job opportunities. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the employment of construction managers will grow by 11% from 2016-2026.
Is Construction Management a Good Career? Yes it is, because the demand for construction managers is growing with increase in overall construction activities. Additionally, construction managers earn significant incomes and assume a large leadership role in building projects. The career also comes with employment satisfaction for those who are passionate about the industry.
Construction managers are always juggling a variety of tasks and collaborating with numerous teams. Therefore, the career is an excellent choice for those who thrive under pressure and possess good leadership skills. With so many responsibilities, it’s rare for a construction manager to work in the office all day. They usually work on the site to ensure projects flow smoothly. Here, I discuss what’s it’s like to be a construction manager. For those who are wondering, what’s the average construction manager salary? How to become a construction manager? What are the pros and cons of being a construction manager? Read on.
Is Construction Management A Good Career?
Construction managers are also known as general contractors, project managers, site managers, project coordinators or project superintendents.
They usually perform the following tasks:
· Prepare and bargain cost estimates, budgets and schedules. Sometimes, construction managers have to talk to mortgage lenders, credit companies, and insurance providers depending on the project
· Choose appropriate construction strategies and techniques
· Interpret and explain agreements and technical details to the construction team
· Report on the progress of the project and budget matters to customers
· Work together with architects, engineers, building specialists and other workers
· Instruct and supervise building activities on site
· Tackle any problems with the project like work delays and emergencies
· Choose, hire and instruct construction personnel
· Comply with building safety codes and other legal requirements
For maximum productivity and efficiency, the construction mangers typically employ special cost-estimating and planning software. The software enables them to budget the appropriate time and money needed to finish specific jobs. Many project managers also use software to establish the best way to bring materials to the site.
Most of them plan project strategies and have to find a way to solve unexpected problems and delays. They select subcontractors and construction personnel for specific duties. Usually, the decisions need to be made fast to meet deadlines.
Entrepreneurial managers have the freedom to generate their own employment opportunities, but they need to be proactive to get clients. Most of them market their services and skills, and bid on jobs.
Selecting competent personnel and establishing a healthy working relationship with them is crucial for construction managers. They must also delegate tasks to laborers, subcontractors and lower level management effectively. General contractors must provide clear orders and explain any complex details to employees and customers.
Moreover, they must possess knowledge of construction methods and technologies. They should also have the ability to interpret contractual agreements and technical drawings.
Being a construction manager is a promising career with many job opportunities. The overall construction activities are increasing, which means that the demand for project managers is rising too. Population and business growth are leading to the construction of new homes, offices, retail shops, hospitals, restaurants, educational institutions etc. Improvements and replacements to public infrastructure structures including roads, bridges and sewer systems also create opportunities for construction managers.
Although they have their own main offices, project coordinators spend most of their time working at construction sites. That allows them to monitor projects and make day-to-day decisions. They usually manage many projects at a go, so they are expected to travel frequently between several sites.
All in all, the work of construction managers requires hard work and plenty of responsibility. They need to possess the following qualities:
· Analytical skills: Project managers have a responsibility to plan project strategies, tackle unexpected delays, and solve problems that might arise along the way. Also, they use cost-estimating and planning software in determining costs, time and materials required for the tasks at hand
· Business Skills: A construction manager coordinates and supervises workers and addresses budget details. Having the ability to choose capable employees and form good working relationships is vital
· Customer service skills: General contractors should have healthy working relationships with the persons they frequently contact like owners, inspectors and civilians
· Decision-making abilities: In order to meet project budgets and deadlines, project managers should be capable of making prompt decisions e.g., choosing staff
· Leadership skills: The construction managers must effectively assign roles to subcontractors, laborers and other lower level managers. They should also be able to motivate their team for optimum work
· Communication skills: Project superintendents should be able to speak about technical information, give clear orders and complex information. At times, they need to talk to credit firms, mortgage lenders and insurance companies to discuss financial matters. Additionally, self-employed managers need to have the capability to sell their services to potential clients. Therefore, possessing communication skills is essential
· Writing skills: A construction manager should possess writing skills in order to write project proposals, plans and budgets
· Technical skills: They are necessary for the purpose of interpreting contracts, building methods and technologies, and technical drawings
· Time-management abilities: Construction managers usually have deadlines to meet. So they should have time-management skills to ensure all development phases are finished on schedule.
· Initiative: Since many project coordinators are self-employed, they should be able to market themselves and bid on jobs. Being able to create their own business opportunities and being proactive when searching for new clients is essential.
Average Construction Manager Salary USA and UK
Any expat seeking to work as a construction manager in the USA will be glad to know that the job pays well. The average salary of a construction manager in the United States is $75,760 (as of 2019). Entry-level construction managers take home an average income of $55,548. Managers with 5-9 years of experience earn $74,275 and those with at least twenty years of experience make $87,204. Construction managers working in Los Angeles earn the highest wages.
For an expat looking to move to the UK, construction managers earn an average salary of £42,266. Entry-level positions have an average wage of £30,329. With working experience of 5-9 years, construction managers earn £43,696. In late career (20+ years), employees make £48,387 per year.
What are the Benefits of Being a Construction Manager?
Here are the major benefits of working as a construction manager:
- A Growing Industry: The industry outlook is promising for construction managers with job growth targeting 5% yearly. It’s one of the fastest growing industries of today, creating employment for those looking to enter the field
- Work Environment is Diverse: Construction managers work in a variety of settings. While they usually have an office, they mostly work outside at construction sites. For those who prefer to travel while on the job, being a construction manager is a worthwhile career choice. Apart from leaving the office setting, job sites are diverse. A project coordinator might find him on a beach, mountain, or another exciting area.
- Intellectually Challenging: Project managers work with various people. That can be intellectually stimulating and offer a chance for socialization. On the professional part, managers collaborate with architects, infrastructural planners, investors and attorneys. On the construction end, they work alongside tradesmen and craftsmen.
- Multiple Career Path Options: Although many construction managers possess a bachelor’s degree, it’s not mandatory. Working as another project manager’s apprentice and acquiring the skills is an alternative way to enter the industry. Having analytical and leadership abilities is more crucial than the undergraduate degree in many cases.
- Pays Well: Construction managers, particularly those with large firms and in larger areas, earn significant salaries.
- Steady Work: Project managers are required for new construction projects and rebuilding work in older regions. It’s a profession with excellent job security.
- Decision-Making: Construction managers assume large leadership roles in coordinating a construction project. For people who want authority and the power to make decisions, this is a huge benefit.
Is Being a Construction Manager Hard?
Similar to other professions, being a construction manager has several drawbacks. Dealing with jurisdictional authorities comes with some challenges, since they all have different processes, which might not be clear. Moreover, working with a variety of people in a project, with varying levels of building experience may be a challenge. Construction managers have to be flexible in how they communicate with and motivate the people and organizations involved in projects.
The downside to having authority as a project manager is the stress involved. Construction managers require extreme patience and exemplary coping skills. For major projects, they have to spend long hours working. Balancing the needs of every primary player in the process of planning and still managing workers can be overwhelming.
In addition to that, construction work could be quite dangerous. Project coordinators need to monitor employee productivity and enforce safety standards like wearing head hats and avoid certain work areas.
Unpredictable weather conditions and other variables that inhibit timely completion of projects may also add to stress.
Furthermore, construction managers usually have to travel to different areas for work. They might be way from their homes for several weeks or months depending on a project. That might be hard for people with families.
However, the benefits of being a construction manager mostly outweigh the disadvantages. Therefore, pursuing this profession might be a good choice for those who want leadership roles or a chance to travel.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.