Building Sites from the Ground Up: Construction Management

In order to begin a career in construction management, one will be required to have completed an associate's or bachelor's degree program in the subject.

Graduates will be required to specialize in multiple fields which will likely include everything from management courses to construction planning. Construction managers study surveying, construction methodologies as well as construction design and specifications with a view to overseeing the entire construction process from the ground up. These subjects are all available in degree programs from some of the top accredited schools and colleges online.

While certification is not a pre-requisite for working professionals within the industry, it can be a valuable asset for a new graduate seeking to gain some credibility and experience.

Voluntary certifications can be attained from either one of the American Institute of constructors (AIC) and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).

Graduates of a construction management degree can expect to fill jobs such as construction site foreman, building contractor and real estate developer.

Construction Management Degree Information

People who want to become construction managers usually start out as construction workers after high school. They get jobs as assistant plumbers, roofers and basic construction laborers who do everything from pound nails to clean up. Most construction workers learn the job in a hands-on way. However, after a few years working on construction projects, people who want to move into management roles head to college for an associate or bachelor’s degree. While master’s and doctorate degree programs are available for construction managers, most will get a bachelor’s degree to provide themselves with the knowledge and skills they’ll need on the job.

Bachelor’s degree programs provide a variety of courses that include physics, CAD design, understanding construction documents, construction materials and methods, structural mechanics, chemistry, trigonometry, microeconomics and planning and scheduling. Construction managers need to understand all aspects of a building project, from the architect’s point of view to the building codes and standards to contracts and subcontractors. Overseeing a construction site and all the workers requires an ability to handle complex tasks and logistics. Construction managers must be able to communicate effectively with clients, other managers, engineers, architects, suppliers and bureaucrats. Excellent communication skills are a must.

Bachelor’s

Construction workers who earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management study a wide variety of subjects including math, physics, CAD design, construction documents, construction materials and methods, building codes and safety regulations, chemistry, microeconomics, estimating, surveying and planning and scheduling. Students learn about construction finance and law, ethics and management skills. While majoring in construction management, these students will also minor in business administration to learn the necessary business skills for the job. A capable and competent overseer needs to know both the construction aspect and the business aspect of managing large projects, so students will also study accounting, business law, probability and statistics and introductory operations management.

Master’s

Many universities and colleges also have graduate level degree programs, offering the master’s and doctorate degrees in construction management. Earning the master’s degree opens the door to upper level project and building management positions. Master’s degree programs often emphasize new technology applications for the construction industry, and graduates will be competent and technologically knowledgeable. These degree programs can be campus-based or online. Many construction workers might work at a construction site during the day and earn their bachelor’s or master’s at night taking online courses.

Coursework

Construction management students will take some general education courses such as political issues and the economy, ethics, environmental issues, research methods and writing. Most of their time, however, will be spent studying the core courses in construction science. Expect courses such as the following:

  • Principles of construction management
  • Statics and strength of materials
  • Building codes
  • Commercial construction methods
  • Construction documents and contracts
  • Construction technology and software
  • Estimating
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Safety on construction jobs
  • Construction finance and law

Students will also learn on the job during an internship. Many programs offer one or two internships during the four years of the bachelor’s degree program.

Career Opportunities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for construction managers will increase at the average rate as for all occupations, which is 17 percent. Retrofitting older buildings to be more energy efficient is a growing business nationwide, which will require more construction managers. As budget constrictions are par for the course in a tight economy, construction managers who can keep projects on budget and on time will be in demand. The country’s infrastructure is growing frail and old, and good project managers will be needed to oversee projects on roads, bridges and water and sewer systems. As building projects become more complex with new technology, materials and regulations, quality construction managers will be brought in to oversee construction processes. Construction managers with job experience and a bachelor’s degree will be in high demand.

Earning Potential

The BLS reports that the median annual wage for construction managers was $83,860, although many such managers make quite a bit more than that. Construction managers can earn overtime pay and bonuses on top of their salaries. Construction managers work on all kinds of building projects from nonresidential to highway and bridge construction to hospitals and hotels. Construction managers working in computer systems design earned an average salary of $136,770. Those working on traveler accommodations and amusement parks made $130,510 and $125,980, respectively.

Construction Manager FAQ

What types of jobs can I expect with a construction manager degree?

Most construction managers work full time. While many working in this industry work in offices, others are at the building site overseeing workers. While on the job, construction managers collaborate with engineers, architects, other building specialists, bureaucrats, city officials and workers. They are expected to prepare and manage cost estimates, work timetables and budgets. They explain technical information to workers, prepare and negotiate contracts, meet with code and regulation officers, respond to work delays and problems and select all subcontractors for the project.

How long will it take to earn a construction manager degree?

p>Earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management will take four years. A master’s will take one or two years. Many construction students work during the day and take courses online at night. Distance learning students can earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree at their own rate.

Where are the highest paying jobs for construction managers?

States paying the most salary for construction managers were New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington D.C. and Alaska. New York paid $128,170 while Alaska paid $111,350.

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