The project manager is essential for a successful construction project and requires a lot of hard work, training, and a particular skill set. With the increase of construction projects around the United States, there is also an increased call for project managers to lead these projects. An experienced project manager can make good money, with PayScale reporting an average salary of around $75,000. If you think you have the skills and drive to become a construction project manager, here are some things to consider.
A Project Manager in Construction Overview
In order to know whether becoming a project manager in construction is the right path for you, it’s important to know what they do. A project manager manages projects, while this might seem obvious there is of course more to managing a project than meets the eye. They are responsible for overseeing the building of a project from beginning to end. That usually includes successfully budgeting, organizing, implementing, and scheduling the entire construction project.
A project manager might work for themselves, a general contractor, subcontractor or others. They are responsible for budgeting, organizing, implementing, and scheduling the entire construction project. They might also be responsible for selecting the construction team like the foremen, crews, and subcontractors. Once everyone has been hired the project manager is responsible for managing the teams.
Role of a Project Manager
The exact role of a project manager on a project will depend on the project. With some large projects, there could be multiple project managers. Each project manager could work for a different group on the project. For example, there could be a project manager with the electrical subcontractor and another from the HVAC subcontractor. In these instances, they will work under a project manager who will coordinate their efforts. The top construction manager is then responsible for the overall project health and well-being, but it frees them up from some smaller yet important details.
Becoming a Project Manager
A project manager in construction could have a different set of skills and background than in other fields. And while there is a typical path to becoming a construction manager, that doesn’t mean there is only one path. Above all most companies will value experience in the project manager. With the rise in construction and project manager jobs in construction, now is a good time to be able to find work in your desired profession. Or even reach out to see what companies are looking for in the project managers to get the experience and education necessary to find a job later.
More and more construction project managers have bachelor’s degrees when they enter the field. The common degree for a project manager in construction is a degree in construction engineering, building science, or construction science. However, not every college offers this as a major. In its stead, engineering, architecture, mathematics and other degrees often will work. The most important part is ensuring that you take classes in project control and management, design, building codes and standards, construction methods and materials, and similar coursework. This will better prepare you for work as a project manager.
However, not every college offers courses in construction management which is why courses from a community college can come in handy. It ensures that you have classes that will help you be a better construction manager, but it also ensures you have a better understanding of the construction industry’s needs. For those that don’t want or can’t go to a four-year college, an associate’s degree in construction management from a 2-year college and work experience is common to gain project management skills while supervising smaller projects. But the coursework is still important for breaking into construction management.
Training and Work Experience
Along with education on-the-job training, internships or other construction experience is generally preferred. Some firms hire project manager assistants to help them gain project management experience. An assistant construction manager tends to be rather hands on. They will implement the budget rather than build it. Or they’ll work on enforcing the schedule, following up on RFIs and other important parts of the project. Assistants give a project manager more time to work on the big picture and get involved if necessary. It also gives those interested in entering the project management field in construction an opportunity to do so.
To become a senior project manager, a bachelor’s degree is highly recommended, and in some cases, even a master’s degree. For those that don’t have a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, work experience is crucial. Candidates that have many years’ experience in the construction industry and experience in leadership roles can often be considered for assistant project manager positions. These positions are still useful because it is a chance to work almost an apprenticeship in project management.
Different firms and companies will have different lengths of time for training positions. Some firms might need more project managers. They might have a shorter training or assistant period depending on readiness.
While many companies might not require certification, it can be a way of setting yourself apart from other candidates. Some organizations, like the American Institute of Contractors and the Construction Management Association of America, offer construction project management certificates.
The AIC has both the Associate Constructor and the Certified Professional Constructor certificates. These are both certifications that denote a high level of skill and knowledge of management principles for the construction process.
The CMAA is a professional organization of construction project managers, and they offer a Certified Construction Manager course. They require a certain amount of experience before potential applicants can take the exam. However, it covers almost everything a construction manager could encounter.
A construction manager has certain qualities that help them through their career. They’ll need time management and communication skills in order to be able to manage the human side of the project. They’ll need to be able to motivate others through tough times and help reduce disagreements, and leverage productivity tools such as project management software. Project managers also have to be problem solvers. Construction is dependent on weather and other factors that are out of anyone’s control. They have to be able to work with whatever challenges come up to finish the project on time. These and other skills help make a project management professional.
Project management is a good profession for those with the right qualities and skills. Since it is so important in construction, this isn’t a profession that is going away in a couple years. It is up to you to determine if you fit the qualities, skills, and knowledge of a successful construction project manager.