When plans are drawn up for a new building, new road, or any other major infrastructure project, it’s almost always a construction project manager that oversees the process from start to finish. From the initial design and approval process through the final completion of the project, they coordinate all aspects of the construction while making sure everything is being done on schedule and within budget.
Construction project managers have a lot of responsibilities on their plate. They must be able to handle a large amount of incoming information and keep a tight rein on a variety of different projects at once while also managing budgets and staying within deadlines. The focus is typically on completing projects quickly, but there’s often an emphasis on quality workmanship as well.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a construction project manager and what it takes to become one yourself.
Construction Project Manager Job Duties
Construction project managers are responsible for a wide range of duties, including:
- Coordinating and overseeing the implementation of construction projects from start to finish
- Establishing and maintaining relationships with contractors and specialists such as architects, engineers, and subcontractors
- Managing budgets for projects in line with corporate objectives and budget guidelines
- Communicating regularly with stakeholders regarding project status, needs, obstacles, and changes in scope or strategy
- Ensuring that all tasks related to the project stay on schedule and within budget
- Providing client service and supervising field operations to ensure successful completion of projects on time and within budget
- Ensuring project safety and adherence to safety codes and regulations
- Managing projects from beginning to end, including planning and scheduling crews, ordering materials and supplies, and coordinating with vendors and subcontractors
- Coordinating with architects, engineers, inspectors, utility companies, government agencies—and other stakeholders—to ensure compliance with local building codes
Construction Project Manager Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for construction project managers is $82,474. The top earners are making over $143,000 per year.
Demand for construction project managers is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade. This is due to the growing demand for new infrastructure as well as the need to rebuild and upgrade existing infrastructure.
Construction Project Manager Job Requirements
The requirements for construction managers are as follows:
Education: A construction project manager should have a bachelor’s degree in construction management, civil engineering, architecture or a related field. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management may provide the best foundation for this position.
Training: Experience is the most valuable training a construction project manager can have. The more experience a candidate has managing a construction project from start to finish, the more valuable they are to an employer. Most employers require a construction project manager to have several years of relevant experience.
Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not required to become a construction project manager, but they can be beneficial for those looking to advance their careers. A useful resource to obtain current information about certifications is the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).
Construction Project Manager Skills
In addition to education and other requirements, candidates that possess the following skills may be able to perform more successfully in the job:
Time management skills: A construction project manager must have good time management skills. They must be able to meet deadlines while ensuring that the job is done correctly.
Management skills: Construction project managers must have excellent leadership and management skills. They must also be able to manage a team of workers on the job site.
Communication skills: Project managers must have strong communication skills so they can communicate with clients, workers, and subcontractors.
Decision-making skills: Construction project managers must make decisions quickly. They need to know how to respond to any problems that arise during the course of a project.
Financial skills: Construction project managers must understand financial concepts such as profit margins, return on investment, and interest rates.
Problem-solving skills: Construction project managers must be able to identify problems, come up with solutions, and implement them before the problem becomes unmanageable.
Construction Project Manager Work Environment
Construction project managers work in a wide variety of environments. They may spend time outdoors on the construction site, looking over blueprints and talking with workers. Other times they might be working indoors at a desk or computer. Work hours vary depending on the needs of their projects, but they typically work normal business hours during weekdays.
The job can be stressful because there are many deadlines, especially when working with large buildings or other major projects. Some may work longer hours to meet deadlines. Construction project managers typically manage several projects at once. They often have tight deadlines to meet and large amounts of responsibility for completing each project on schedule and within budget.
Construction Project Manager Career Advancement
A construction project manager can advance into two main positions. First, they can become a senior construction project manager. This person is tasked with managing a team of project managers. Second, they can become a superintendent. This professional oversees the project from beginning to end. They are involved in almost every aspect of the process, including budgeting, scheduling, employee management, safety management, and quality assurance.
Construction Project Manager Trends
Here are three trends influencing how construction project managers work. Construction project managers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Collaborative Planning and Scheduling
With the rapid growth of cloud-based project management software, companies in the construction industry are now able to share and collaborate on project information with clients, contractors, subcontractors, and consultants.
This can help ensure that all stakeholders involved in a project have access to accurate and up-to-date information about timelines, budgets, personnel requirements, risks and more. This type of planning is especially important for larger projects that require an entire team of people working together to complete it.
Big data is one of the most important emerging trends in construction project management, largely due to the growing importance of data-driven decision making in this field.
Construction managers can use big data to make better decisions about where and how they allocate resources—for example, software systems that analyze traffic patterns on roadways can help construction companies determine optimal locations for projects based on traffic flow, which can lead to greater productivity.
Increased Importance of Safety
While safety was always a priority in construction, there is now more attention on safety than ever before due to new regulations and increased scrutiny on workplace accidents.
A recent study found that 57% of companies in the U.S. saw an increase in insurance premiums after one or more serious injuries, and another study found that 70% of employees in construction-related industries reported experiencing at least one injury during their careers.
In order to keep premiums low and ensure compliance with government regulations, project managers will need to work closely with engineers and contractors to create safer workspaces for workers.
How to Become a Construction Project Manager
1. Planning Your Career Path
The best way to prepare for a career as a construction project manager is to get your hands dirty. Working in an entry-level position will allow you to develop practical skills that will come in handy later on, when you’re managing projects of your own.
The education requirements for this position vary depending on the industry in which you want to work. Some companies require that you have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or construction management; others will hire candidates with an associate’s degree and some experience. Regardless of your educational background, it is important to take any entry-level positions seriously and learn as much as possible from them.
2. Writing a Resume
Construction project managers need to be good at communicating with a team and resolving conflicts. To show these skills, your resume should demonstrate your ability to effectively manage both tasks and people in the past.
This includes detailing how you set up a new project, coordinated meetings and tracked progress throughout the process. It is also important that you include any instances where you were able to resolve conflicts with your team members or clients. This can show employers that you are effective at problem-solving and building strong relationships. You should also describe your ability to oversee a variety of projects with minimal supervision.
The best resumes for construction project managers also include details about the specific tools they are familiar with. Many jobs in this field will require some level of technical knowledge.
3. Applying for Jobs
If you’re going to be in the field of construction, networking with other professionals in the field is the best way to find a job. When you get your foot in the door, always ask questions about what it’s like to work in that company. You can also check with local chapters of professional organizations, such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Once you have some experience under your belt, you’ll want to get certified so that you can demonstrate your expertise and professional knowledge to hiring managers.
4. Ace the Interview
To do well in an interview as a construction project manager candidate, you will want to discuss your personal background and experience in the field. If you have worked on projects similar to the one you are applying for, be sure to mention that. Try to demonstrate how your past experience is relevant to the position and why you would be a good fit for the company.
During the interview, you will likely be asked questions about teamwork and leadership abilities. Try to frame your answers in a way that demonstrates how you can lead other team members to success. It is also likely that your interviewer will ask you questions about problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, or other interpersonal skills. Demonstrate that you are flexible, have good communication skills, and are open to working with others by explaining how you have successfully managed difficult situations in the past.