Construction management is a great career for someone interested in building and design. Working as a construction manager allows you to learn construction from one end to the other – from the planning stage with architects and engineers to the budgeting stage with cost estimators, to the production stage with laborers.
A good project manager must have the skills and personality to overcome obstacles – unforeseen delays, requests to change the original scope of work (change orders), and bad weather are common. Construction managers obtain work permits, hire contractors, troubleshoot emergencies, and keep clients informed on work timetables and progress.
Education For Construction Project Management
While it’s possible to work your way up to project management, a solid education in the discipline is very helpful. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree or certificate in construction management will help you understand the complexities of the construction industry. Some of the responsibilities you’ll learn about include estimating, cost control, risk management, and contract administration.
Given the recent increase in environmental concerns, you should consider earning a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) credential from the U.S. Green Building Council. This certification demonstrates in-depth knowledge of green building standards, and it is a must for project managers hired for green building projects.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that over 100 colleges and universities offer programs in construction science, building science, or construction engineering. Earning certification is another way to become more marketable and competitive as a job seeker. The Construction Management Association of America awards the Certified Construction Manager designation, and the American Institute of Constructors awards the Associate Constructor Certification to those who have the required experience and pass a technical exam.
Education is important to advancement as a project manager, but experience also counts. As an example, some construction managers start out as a carpenter or glazier and eventually rise through the ranks without formal education. Internships working with architects and general contractors can also help establish experience.
Those new to the field can get practical experience working as an assistant until they’ve learned the ropes and are ready to supervise their own construction project. The more knowledge and experience you have in the industry, the more likely you are to be successful as a project manager. Consider the benefits of a cooperative education program, so you can gain on-the-job experience as you study.
Good communication skills are critical for effective project management. You have to deal with quite a few people – owners, management, project engineers, architects, subcontractors, vendors, and inspectors. All of these stakeholders have differing needs and demands, and you’ll need to prioritize among multiple requests while remaining calm and confident. Strong writing ability is required, as the job involves a lot of paperwork, from email to requests for information (RFIs).
Project managers spend at least as much time in their office as on a job site. Managing and scheduling subcontractors, dealing with permits, developing project timelines, and managing a complex budget require good computer skills. Most companies have a construction project management software to help you keep up with everything, and familiarity with spreadsheet software is also helpful. Math skills and knowledge of accounting help with budgets and billing and good organizational skills are necessary for all aspects of the project.