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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Is construction management a good career for me?

March 8, 2018

Construction manager holding blueprints

Are you interested in a construction management career? If you are analytical with good decision-making and customer service skills, construction management could be a great career choice. Read on to learn:

  • What construction managers typically do on the job
  • Where construction managers work and how much they reportedly make
  • The skills and characteristics needed to be a successful construction manager
  • How to become a construction manager

What does a construction manager do?

Construction managers are tasked with planning, coordinating, budgeting and supervising construction projects from inception to completion. These projects can range from public, residential, commercial, and industrial structures.

Construction managers’ duties include:

  • Preparing budgets, cost estimates and work timetables
  • Explaining and interpreting technical information and contracts to other professionals
  • Reporting budget information and the work in progress to clients
  • Working together with engineers, architects and other construction professionals
  • Choosing the most suitable subcontractors, and scheduling and coordinating their duties
  • Responding to emergencies, work setbacks and other issues that may arise
  • Following laws, building and safety codes, and other regulations

Why should I become a construction manager?

Construction management is a promising career with growing job opportunities. According to the BLS, employment of construction managers is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.

With overall construction activity expanding, the demand for construction managers is expected to grow as well. The BLS reports, “over the coming decade, population and business growth will result in the construction of new residences, office buildings, retail outlets, hospitals, schools, restaurants and other structures.” Improvements to and replacements of the national infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and sewer pipe systems, will also help the employment growth of construction managers.

How much do construction managers make?

Annual wages for construction managers can vary by location, experience and more. The median annual wage for construction managers was $89,300 in May 2016, according to the BLS. The pay is reportedly even better in California, with the BLS showing an annual mean wage of $107,530 in May 2016. California also shows the highest level of employment for construction managers in the nation with an estimated 32,590 jobs (May 2016).

Where do construction managers work?

Though they have their own main office, construction managers will spend the majority of their time working out of field offices at construction sites. According to the BLS, this allows them to monitor their projects and make daily decisions. Construction managers usually manage several different projects at one time, so they will be expected to frequently travel between their sites.

There are many different types of sites that construction managers will manage and these include industrial, commercial, agricultural, institutional, residential and heavy civil sites.

Is construction management the right career for me?

Construction management requires a lot of responsibility and hard work: You will be in charge of a construction project from beginning to end. In order to get the job done, there are important qualities that a construction manager should possess.

According to the BLS, these include:

  • Analytical skills. Construction managers are tasked with planning project strategies, handling unexpected setbacks and solving issues that may arise during their time on a project. Also, construction managers will use cost-estimating and planning software to better determine the cost, time and materials needed to complete their projects.
  • Business skills. Construction managers coordinate and supervise their workers as well as address budget information. Being able to select capable workers and create a good working relationship with them is very important.
  • Customer-service skills. Construction managers must be able to have good working relationships with the people they’re in frequent contact with such as owners, inspectors and the public.
  • Decision-making skills. In order to meet deadlines and budgets, construction managers must be able to make decisions quickly, such as choosing their staff and subcontractors for specific tasks and jobs.
  • Initiative. Since a large number of construction managers are self-employed, they must be able to market their services and bid on jobs. They must be able to create their own business opportunities and be proactive when looking for new clients.
  • Leadership skills. Construction managers need to effectively assign duties to their subcontractors, construction workers and other lower level managers. Construction managers also need to motivate their staff in order to get a quality product.
  • Speaking skills. Construction managers must be able to talk about technical details with other specialists, give clear orders to their employees, and explain complex information to their workers and clients. Also, if self-employed, construction managers need to sell their services to their potential clients, so having speaking skills is very important.
  • Technical skills. In order to interpret contracts, technical drawings, construction methods and technologies, construction managers must have technical skills.
  • Time-management skills. Construction managers are always working on a deadline or completion date, and in order to meet those deadlines, they need to have time-management skills to be sure that all construction phases are completed on schedule.
  • Writing skills. In order to write budgets, plans and proposals, construction managers need to have writing skills so they can document their progress to show their clients and others involved in the building process.

Do I need to be certified to work as a construction manager?

Though certification isn’t required, the BLS reports that it is valuable as it shows potential customers that you have gained the knowledge and experience needed to take on a construction project.

What steps can I take to become a construction manager?

The first step you can take to become a construction manager is obtaining an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution.

SJVC’s 14-month Construction Management program is offered both Online and on-ground in Ontario, California. The training program teaches students to manage residential and commercial construction projects. Our students are trained to prepare competitive project proposals, supervise construction sites, and effectively communicate with clients and workers. Construction Management students leave SJVC with an associate of science degree and ready for the management responsibilities they will face on the job at construction sites.

Request more information or call 866-544-7898 to speak with an admissions advisor about SJVC’s Construction Management Program.

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