Building Your Career: What Is Construction Management?

How much does someone in construction management make? Keep reading to learn how to become a construction manager.

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by Staff Writers

Published September 1, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Building Your Career: What Is Construction Management?
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What Does a Construction Manager Do?

Construction managers perform vital tasks in the world of commercial and residential building. Acting as site managers, these professionals see projects through from start to finish and provide updates on the status and ongoing cost of projects along the way.

Construction managers typically start their days early — especially in the summer — to avoid the hottest parts of the day. They may begin by visiting the job site, speaking with workers, confirming the day's plans, and reviewing progress. They may return to their office after checking in to keep up with administrative tasks, order supplies, and report back to their clients.

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Whether they decide to study construction management or a business subject, the best construction managers understand building processes and structural requirements. They also know about cost estimating and budgeting, materials usage, and sustainability.

Construction Manager Responsibilities

Specializations

People who want to pursue a construction management degree can often choose from several specializations, though these depend on availability at individual schools. Some common options include construction scheduling, construction finance, and construction project management. Another option is construction cost estimating and cost control.

Depending on the area a construction manager focuses on, their responsibilities vary. For instance, someone focused on scheduling may spend more time negotiating with vendors and craftspeople. Someone who specialized in finance may spend longer reviewing contracts and keeping up with market and economic trends.

Job Demand and Salary

Nearly half of a million construction managers worked in the U.S. in 2020, according to the BLS. In addition, the BLS projects this number will grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030, creating an additional 51,400 roles.

Construction managers in the bottom 10% of earners — typically those in entry-level roles — took home less than $60,050 in 2021. Those in the top 10% of earners — typically the most experienced — took home more than $163,800.

Construction Management Careers

Construction Manager

Construction managers use their advanced knowledge of residential and commercial building to oversee job sites. In addition to hiring subcontractors and craftspeople, managers work alongside architects and engineers and order materials. They also develop working timetables, oversee the budget, and keep up with all regulatory requirements and building codes.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $98,890
Projected Job Outlook (2020-2030): 11%


Architectural or Engineering Manager

These professionals oversee administrative and project requirements for residential and commercial properties. In addition to hiring and training new staff, they also review supervisee's work to ensure it meets all regulatory and code requirements. Other daily tasks include ensuring staff members have the support and materials they need and overseeing budgets.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $152,350
Projected Job Outlook (2020-2030): 4%


Civil Engineer

Whether working on a road, hospital, tunnel, or new home, civil engineers design and build residential and commercial properties. They work closely with construction managers to develop budgets, check for environmental hazards, and submit applications for permits. In addition, they often complete surveys and oversee other construction workers on the job site.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $88,050
Projected Job Outlook (2020-2030): 8%

How to Become a Construction Manager

Most construction manager positions require candidates with at least a bachelor's degree. Although, some companies may hire those who completed apprenticeships and built on-the-job training. In addition to construction management, others might enter the field after completing bachelor's degrees in business management or a type of engineering.

Aspiring construction managers typically must complete at least one year working under the supervision of an experienced construction expert. Some states may also require candidates to apply for licensure. While not legally mandated, employers may also ask for candidates to complete professional certifications through the American Institute of Constructors or the Construction Management Association of America.

After working in the field for a while, some professionals may decide to earn a master's in construction management or an MBA to pursue higher salaries and more leadership opportunities.

Interested in construction management? Check out our guide on how to become a construction manager.

The Future of Construction Management

The future of construction management looks bright, with the BLS projecting that jobs for these professionals will grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030. This growth exceeds the national average growth rate of 8% for all U.S. jobs. An additional 38,900 roles are projected to open each year on average due to existing construction managers moving to different jobs or retiring.

People entering this field can decide to work on new construction, retrofit existing properties, or do a mix of the two. The industry may see an increased emphasis on sustainable and green building that uses energy efficient materials that do not harm the environment.

Why Choose Construction Management?

While construction management is not for everyone, thousands of people choose this profession for a reason. In addition to offering a stable, well-paid job, construction managers enjoy the flexibility of working in different settings and using their knowledge in impactful ways. They also often enjoy interacting with a variety of customers and fellow construction professionals.

People who do best in these roles enjoy both physical and mental work and excel in leadership positions.

Quiz: Is Construction Management Right for Me?

Frequently Asked Questions About Construction Management

How much does a construction manager make?

According to the BLS, construction managers earned median yearly wages of $98,890 in 2021. Those in the top 10% received salaries over $163,800 per year, while professionals in the bottom 10% made less than $60,050 during the same year. Working in heavy and civil engineering construction provides the highest median salary at $100,310 annually.

The amount of money someone earns as a construction manager can vary widely. Level of experience, type of degree, employer, and location all impact earnings, so people should consider these factors when reviewing salary projections.

What can you do with a construction management degree?

Earning a bachelor's degree in construction management qualifies graduates to pursue a variety of jobs based on their interests and career goals. Some graduates plan to work on residential building construction, while others feel more drawn to commercial projects. Others use their skills to develop specific design elements for existing properties.

For many, working on individual projects works best with their needs. Others decide to work on larger developments for corporations, state and local governments, or housing development companies. Lastly, not all construction managers oversee buildings — some manage job sites for infrastructure, such as bridges and tunnels.

How do you get into construction management?

Because construction and construction management is still seen by some as a craft, not every employer requires candidates to hold a degree. Some prefer to take individuals in as apprentices, teaching them the tricks of the trade over time. Larger construction firms typically prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree.

That said, students who recently graduated from one of these programs are not likely to immediately step into a managerial role. Most people spend at least one year working under the supervision of experienced construction managers before taking on a leadership position.

Do you need to be certified to become a construction manager?

While some states require construction managers to hold licensure, certification is not a current requirement in any state. That said, individual employers can require job candidates to earn certification as part of their employment offers.

People can become a certified construction manager through the Construction Management Association of America. Or, they can apply to become an associate constructor or certified professional constructor through the American Institute of Constructors. Individuals considering this path should review job listings to see which option best serves their employment aspirations.

What state pays construction managers the most?

As of 2021, construction managers based in Alaska earned the most, with mean annual wages of $150,230 as per BLS state data. New Jersey came in second at an average of $144,050 per year, while New York ranked third with mean annual wages of $137,700.People considering this path should also know that some states pay below the national average. In Mississippi, construction managers earned mean annual wages of $83,440 in 2021 — more than $24,000 less than the mean pay of $108,210 for all construction managers.

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