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Project Manager vs. Superintendent: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in construction can be both rewarding and challenging. If you’re interested in this industry, you may be wondering what the difference is between a project manager and a superintendent. Both roles are important in the construction process, but they have different responsibilities. In this article, we compare and contrast these two positions, and we provide information on what you can expect from each job.

What is a Project Manager?

Project Managers are responsible for leading and coordinating a team of employees to complete a specific task or project within a given timeframe. They develop project plans, establish deadlines, and allocate resources to ensure the project stays on track and is completed within budget. Project Managers also monitor the progress of the project and make changes as necessary to ensure its successful completion. They may also be responsible for training and mentoring project team members. Project Managers typically work in the construction, engineering, or IT industries.

What is a Superintendent?

A superintendent is a manager in charge of a large organization or a specific project. They are responsible for ensuring that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards. Superintendents typically have a team of managers and other staff working under them to help complete the project. In some cases, the superintendent may be the owner or founder of the company. In other cases, they may be brought in from outside the organization to provide expert knowledge and management skills.

Project Manager vs. Superintendent

Here are the main differences between a project manager and a superintendent.

Job Duties

Although project managers and superintendents share some duties, they have different responsibilities related to their jobs. Superintendents are responsible for the physical aspects of a construction project, such as ensuring that the crew shows up to work on time, has the necessary equipment and materials and completes tasks in a timely manner. Project managers, though, are more focused on the overall management of a project, making sure that the team is prepared and equipped to complete all tasks successfully. This can include providing direction to the superintendent or other members of the construction crew and communicating with clients.

Job Requirements

Project managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to construction management, engineering or business administration. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well. In addition to their education, project managers must also have several years of experience working in the construction industry before they can be considered for a managerial role. Many project managers start their careers as entry-level employees, such as carpenters or electricians, and work their way up through the ranks.

Superintendents usually need at least a high school diploma, although some jobs may require an associate’s degree or higher. Many superintendents start their careers as entry-level employees in the construction industry and work their way up through the ranks. To be considered for a superintendent position, candidates must have several years of experience working in the construction industry, as well as experience managing other employees.

Work Environment

Superintendents work on construction sites, so they’re often outdoors and in a variety of weather conditions. They may also travel to different job sites throughout the week or month depending on their schedule. Project managers typically work in an office environment where they can access computers and other resources to complete their work. While some project managers may visit construction sites, they usually don’t spend as much time there as superintendents do.


Both project managers and superintendents are responsible for overseeing the construction of a project, from start to finish. This includes ensuring that the project is completed on time, within budget, and to the specifications set forth by the client.

Project managers typically have a background in engineering or architecture, while superintendents usually have a trade background such as carpentry or plumbing. Because of this, project managers tend to be more focused on the technical aspects of the project, while superintendents are more focused on the day-to-day management of the construction site.

Both project managers and superintendents need to have strong communication and interpersonal skills. They will be working with a variety of different people throughout the course of the project, including the client, contractors, and other members of the construction team. It is important that they are able to effectively communicate the vision for the project, as well as any changes or updates, in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Organizational skills are also important for both project managers and superintendents. They need to be able to keep track of all the different elements of the project, as well as the timeline for each task. This can be a challenging task, as there are often many moving parts


Project managers can earn an average salary of $87,628 per year, while superintendents can earn an average salary of $75,594 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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