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Construction management: Salary, Skills & The Role

Construction management is a long and demanding process in construction. It is the foundation of success for construction projects. As long as we operate with limited resources, we need construction management to monitor and control a project's budget, quality, scope, and time. Construction management covers many fields such as engineering, law, and software. Therefore a construction manager is critical in a project as they are the bridge to link all these competencies required. This article will explain the fundamental processes and principles of construction management and without further ado, let us dive in.

What is construction management? 

Construction management is a service that monitors and oversees the design of a project from start to finish. The goal is the successful delivery of the project to the client. The construction management process can appear complex, but it is the same at its core. Proper construction management requires real-time communication among the stakeholders regardless of the project type. One of the aspects that makes construction management a challenging endeavor is a need for knowledge in several areas such as business, law, engineering, and conflict resolution. The goal is the successful delivery of the project to the client.

Benefits of having a construction manager

Large projects have many participants, and there is a need to have a construction manager who will ensure that everyone focuses on their particular role. A good construction manager facilitates the planning, control, and coordination of a project. The many participants in the project include the architect, contractor, interior designer, and other professionals. One must carefully vet professionals to meet the project's vision and goals, and a good construction manager acts as the glue that holds the entire process together. Below are some of the critical benefits of having a construction manager.

Communication

One of the biggest causes of delays in projects is poor communication. However, a construction manager provides clear lines of accountability, and there is thus little confusion on the role each project participant has and the overall project objectives. A construction manager helps the team understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. The construction manager's neral bird's eye view helps manage the teams as different situations arise.

Efficiency 

Some people try to avoid overhead costs by not hiring construction managers, but this costs them more in the long run. A good construction manager helps a project run efficiently. They do this by averting costs and claims, leading to significant cost savings on the project. Mistakes such as lousy steel connections and concrete pours are detected and rectified early in construction. If such errors are not detected early, they can cause expensive, time-consuming delays to the project and be challenging to repair.

Expertise 

A good construction manager is either an architect or an engineer with a lot of experience from past projects. A good construction manager uses the experience from past projects to avoid replicating mistakes made in the past and adopt the benefits learned. This expertise makes the planning, budgeting, and allocation of resources easy to execute. The construction manager has to control the project's quality of work and execution.

Budgeting 

A construction manager is particularly vital to large-scale projects with potential for problems and could affect a project's budget. The construction manager carefully analyses each decision and its impact on the schedule and budget. By carefully analyzing the budget, it is easy to identify unforeseen risks affecting the project's budget—the construction manager budgets for risks and budgets for opportunities that save the project's resources.

construction management vs project management

Construction management vs. project management

We often use the terms construction management and project management, but they have some differences. Construction management deals with the hands-on management of a construction project, whereas project management deals with managing resources throughout a project's lifecycle. A construction manager can be the project manager, but the project manager is not always the construction manager. The construction manager reports to the project manager when they are two entities.

Construction management deals with the following:

  • Making project schedules
  • Scheduling uses of resources
  • Ordering construction materials
  • Notifying the owner of possible delays
  • Cost estimates for change orders
  • Updates daily construction site reports

Project management majorly looks at project resources like time and budget, but it may involve more depending on the project type. Project management is not limited to construction, as we also find it in other fields such as real estate. Project management deals with:

  • Making the project's schedule during the design phase.
  • Negotiating scope and budget with design consultants
  • Managing invoices
  • Ensuring a project stays within time and budget
  • Facilitate project meetings.
  • Conflict resolution in a project

The role of a construction manager (CM)

The construction manager oversees almost all aspects of a project during its construction phase. A construction manager plays roles such as:

  • Signing contracts when a subcontractor is hired. 
  • Manage subcontractors and all other parties involved in construction.
  • Ensure timely delivery of building materials.
  • Ensure the construction team operates within the budget. 
  • Gives cost estimates for change orders.
  • Updates daily construction site reports. 
  • Request change orders throughout construction and decide the best building practices for a project.

Skills required for construction managers

If you have your eyes set on being a construction manager, there are some essential skills that you need to possess.

  1. Communication: A construction manager needs exceptional communication skills to ensure safe and efficient work completion. Good communication helps all team members understand instructions correctly. They also need to relay their findings to project owners and developers.
  2. Organization: A construction manager needs strong organizational skills to prioritize the right tasks to move a project forward.
  3. Critical thinking: Critical thinking skills help a construction manager use reason and logic to identify strengths, weaknesses, solutions, and alternative problem-solving skills.
  4. Problem-solving skills: Construction managers need to identify complex problems and offer solutions and alternative options.
  5. Comprehension: They need to read and understand information written in contract documents.
  6. Decision-making: One has to judge the relative costs and choose the most reasonable prices.
  7. Negotiation: Negotiation skills are essential, especially when dealing with vendors and subcontractors, to try and come to amicable solutions.
  8. Social perceptiveness: As a construction manager works on-site, they will need to understand the reactions of others and why they react as they do.
  9. Quality control analysis: A construction manager needs to conduct inspections and tests of the products and services to evaluate their performance.
  10. Mathematics: Most of the complex problems in construction management are mathematical problems, and a thorough knowledge of mathematics is necessary to solve these problems.
  11. Resource management: A construction manager needs to oversee the allocation of resources such as money, equipment, and facilities and their use to accomplish a given task.

How to become a construction manager

Construction management positions are challenging but simultaneously rewarding and well-paying. This job is especially appealing to people who do not like having a typical desk job. One gets to spend a lot of time outside. However, how do you become a construction manager? This is a highly sought-after position with good pay and growth in the construction industry. Below are the steps you need to take to join this career.

1. Earn your diploma

Without a high school diploma or GED, you cannot start in any career today. Before you enroll in any college to obtain your Bachelors' Degree, you need to provide your high school information. If you did not graduate from high school, you could take a GED exam and pass. GED exam centers are always available in local high schools and community colleges. After attaining this diploma, you should then apply to some colleges to obtain a Bachelors' Degree.

2. Get a Bachelors' Degree

Construction management is a high-power job, and you need to take some classes to further your education in this field. You will need to enroll in your university of choice and pursue a construction management program. In your program, you will pursue courses such as Engineering, Building trade, and physics. You will also learn about building materials, managing a workforce, following building codes, and other intricacies related to construction projects. According to universities.com, the best universities in the United States offering construction management degrees are the University of Miami, University of Southern California, and New York University.

It is also possible to first join a community college to get general education then transfer to a university to specialize in construction management. As a student, internships are critical for earning the necessary experience as you study. No one wants to hire a construction manager that has never stepped foot on a construction site before.

Can you be a construction manager without a degree?

A construction management degree is necessary for you to join this career. You can work your way up without a degree, but most construction companies want someone with a degree from an accredited school. Even if you get a construction management job without a degree, you will still need it in the future to move to more prominent firms or more extensive projects.

construction manager

3. Gain experience

After your time in college, you need to get an entry-level job to help you gain experience. The best experience you can get in the construction industry is an apprenticeship to take an assistant construction manager. Construction companies will not immediately pluck you from college. They need to be sure that you can handle complex construction problems. After gaining experience for a few years, you will have a coveted skill that propels you forward.

4. Get certified

After gaining some experience in this field, the next step is to get certified. You can become a Certified Construction Manager in America by submitting your application to the Construction Management Association of America. For this certification, you need four years of work experience to pass an exam. You have to make a reapplication once every three years for your application to stay to date. If you do not have a degree in construction management, but you have worked in the construction industry for more than eight years and four or more years, specifically as a construction manager, you are eligible to take the exam and be certified.

The average salary for a construction manager

According to salary.com, the annual average salary for a construction manager in the United States as of September 27, 2021, was $115,243. However, those figures depend on skills and experience. To get the most out of your career, you need to gain additional skills and certifications to keep up with the consistent changes in the industry. The salary also varies with the type of projects and location of these projects. The pay is lower for those who work in smaller cities than those in big cities.

A construction manager with less than one year of experience can earn up to $85,473. A construction manager with 1 to 4 years of experience earns an average of $99,660 and a mid-career construction manager with 5-9 years of experience earns an average of $115,243. Construction managers with 10-19 years of experience average a total of $131,678. Those with over 20 years of experience earn an average of $146,641.

FAQs

Below are the answers to the frequently asked questions in construction management.

Is construction management hard?

With the necessary skills, construction management is not complex. It, however, requires a lot of experience and hard work to get the job done. Being a construction manager comes with high-stress levels as you are accountable for overall project success.

Do you need construction experience to be a construction manager?

Yes, you need a lot of experience to make a good construction manager. Most construction managers are over thirty years. Most of the work techniques are learned on the job. Also, to be a certified construction manager, you need at least four years of job experience.

Summary

As we have seen, construction management is a unique career. It has its distinct challenges, but it is a vital part of the construction. Having the wrong construction management team will affect a project's success. Construction management helps a lot with the accountability and budgeting of construction projects. One of the essential aspects also is risk management. Even with the best risk management plans, things go wrong, but things will undoubtedly be worse with ambiguous plans. Construction management is, therefore, a necessary resource for any construction project.