What Is Construction Management?

what is construction management - what do construction managers do

Allow us to introduce you to one of the world’s largest industries that offers plenty of room for growth and opportunity: construction. No, it’s not all just hard hats and hammers. The construction industry of today prioritizes technology, innovation, collaboration, and fresh ideas. It’s also an industry that’s always looking for new employees with strong skill sets, with 80% of construction companies reporting they can’t find enough skilled workers. 

Today we’re highlighting one of the fastest-growing roles in the construction industry: construction management. This role lets you flex your planning, business, technical, and leadership skills. If you love helping bring projects to life, working with others, and making the most of resources, then you have to learn more about construction management. 

A Typical Day for A Construction Manager

As we said, construction management is an excellent career for those who love planning, leading, and working with others. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What do construction managers do, anyway?” Great question. We have the job description for you here as well as a picture of a typical day in the life of a construction manager. 

You can think of a construction manager like the captain of a ship. They’re not just in command; they also work with the crew to chart the way, navigate any choppy waters, and dock safely. The construction manager works in a similar fashion on land and is responsible for:

  • Overseeing and leading projects from start to finish
  • Creating estimates, schedules, and budgets
  • Working with contractors, subcontractors, and specialists to ensure their work meets requirements and standards
  • Serving as the interpreter of contracts and requirements to the team
  • Interfacing with clients to share progress and updates
  • Managing and adjusting costs to meet budgets
  • Identifying and mitigating potential risks or hazards
  • Reviewing and meeting legal requirements, building codes, etc. 

Now that we have the job description let’s take a look at a typical day as a construction manager. First, know that there is no 100% typical day. Because you work on many different projects, each day will be at least a little bit different. However, you can expect to start the day early with a pretty full agenda. You might kick things off by meeting with clients to go over plans and signing off on contracts. Next, you’ll probably meet with your team to set up timelines, review resources, and make sure everyone is on the same page. You’ll spend some time on-site to support your team, make sure all requirements are being met, and put out any fires. Before the day wraps up, you’ll likely head back to the office to catch up on calls, answer subcontractor questions, and plan for the next day. 

Sounds like a busy job, right? This career isn’t for the faint of the heart, but it is a great fit for those who enjoy working on a wide variety of projects and with a wide variety of people. If the idea of sitting behind a desk all day and doing the same thing over and over makes you want to jump ship, then it may be time to jump on board as construction manager

How Do You Become a Construction Manager?

As with most leadership roles, it takes time to become a construction manager. Most people in this role have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, construction management, or another related field. However, that isn’t always the case, as the role requires plenty of on-the-job experience and training. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field can help you fast-track your career, especially with a larger company. 

There are many ways to enter the field, including internships, working as an assistant to the construction manager, or as a contractor or subcontractor. It’s a good idea to look at entry roles that will give you some experience with scheduling, building codes, budget planning, and customer service. These are all skills potential employers will want you to have as a construction manager. 

To strengthen your skill set, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends certifications from the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) and the American Institute of Constructors (AIC). CMAA offers the Certified Construction Manager certification while the AIC has Associate Construction and Certified Professional Construction certifications. 

It takes time to become a construction manager, but the payoff is there with an annual median salary of $95, 260 and a strong job outlook

Must-Have Skills for Construction Managers

We’ve talked a lot about skills, and it’s true that construction managers need to possess many of them. However, you might be surprised that the most effective people in this role lean into a variety of hard and soft skills. It isn’t all about number crunching and schedules; you need to be able to communicate that information effectively to all sorts of folks, including employees, architects, and clients.

Here are some must-have skills if you want to be a top-notch project manager:

  • Communication: Be ready to express ideas, resolve concerns, and share information with a variety of people through a variety of methods
  • Decision-making: This is one role where you’ll need to make smart decisions quickly. You’ll want to be able to rapidly review the information and consult with the right people to do so.
  • Business acumen: Understand what’s critical to your company, how this project fits in, and how to engage your workers and stakeholders. 
  • Analysis: You should be comfortable working with all sorts of information, including figures, plans, drawings, contracts, strategies, and requests. 
  • Leadership: Know how to engage with your team, inspire confidence, encourage collaboration, and resolve problems.
  • Technical: Have a solid understanding of construction, engineering, design, scheduling, planning, and technology. 

Construction Management Technology

Don’t skimp on those technical skills. Modern construction managers need to be willing to not only use industry technology but also embrace it. Today’s industry relies on technology for everything from planning and design to employee engagement and collaboration across departments. The latest tools address many of the common challenges in construction, including silos, data loss, paper-dependent processes, and project turnover. If you want to succeed at being a construction manager, you’ll need to be adept at using these tools to overcome these common challenges. 

Your team will also look to you to lead the way when embracing these technologies. If you can show that you’re adept and excited about using them, they’ll be more likely to follow suit. That means better results for you and your team.

Construction Management: The Career of Choice for Analytic Inspiring Leaders

From communication skills to business acumen, construction managers need to possess a variety of skills to succeed. While it’s a tall order, it’s also one that leads to an exciting, challenging career with plenty of opportunity for advancement. If you’re interested in learning more about just how fulfilling construction careers can be, subscribe to our blog. 

Grace Ellis

Editor in Chief, Digital Builder Blog, Autodesk


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