Are you fascinated by construction? Interested in the technology and innovations that go into building safer and more efficient buildings and facilities? Then a career in construction management, which is seeing an increase in women in the field, may be right for you. As a construction manager, you'll play a vital role in every step of the construction process, leading and inspiring your teams along the way.

So, what exactly do construction management jobs look like, and how can you begin your construction management career path? Let's dive in.

Understanding Construction Management

Specifically, construction management refers to the process of overseeing a construction or building project from its earliest stages to the finished product. While there are different construction manager responsibilities and duties based on the exact role you take on, some common responsibilities for those working in this field include:

  • Handling construction project scheduling and budgets
  • Overseeing construction workforce management
  • Ensuring teams are following construction site safety rules and regulations
  • Leading construction teams to keep projects on track
  • Implementing new construction management technology, including lean construction principles where applicable

There are many potential construction management jobs to consider, depending on where your skills and interests lie. Here are some common examples of construction management career paths:

  • Field engineer
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Site superintendent
  • Construction manager
  • Estimator or scheduler
  • Safety manager
  • Quality Control specialist or Inspector
  • Construction project director
  • Owner’s representative
  • Supply chain or material vendor

Those who work in construction management are often involved with every phase of a project. This includes preconstruction (planning and budget allocation), construction and even post-construction (including warranty management and project closeout).

Why Choose a Career in Construction Management?

If you have a genuine interest in building and construction projects in general, there are several benefits to choosing a career in construction management. First, this can be an exciting and rewarding line of work, with each day bringing new challenges and opportunities to put your skills to use. Likewise, because there are so many different career paths to choose from, you can explore jobs that truly suit your interests.

Construction management professionals can also enjoy the flexibility of working for an employer or being self-employed. For example, plenty of construction managers are hired full-time by construction companies, consulting firms, facility ownership groups, and even government agencies. However, these professionals can also work independently as self-employed construction managers, allowing you to decide which path may be best for you.

There is also a growing demand for experienced and knowledgeable construction management professionals across the field. According to United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, the job outlook for construction managers is projected to grow by 5 percent between 2022 and 2032 alone. Earnings potential is also significant, with the median pay for construction managers in the United States hovering around $104,900 per year based on 2022 BLS data.

Moreover, a career in construction management offers a unique opportunity to make a significant impact on the built environment and the natural environment alike. As a construction manager, your decisions and leadership can contribute to more sustainable building practices, energy-efficient construction, and innovative designs that respect and enhance the natural landscape. By prioritizing green building standards, incorporating renewable resources, and minimizing waste, you can lead projects that not only meet the needs of today but also protect resources for future generations. This aspect of the role underscores the profound influence construction management professionals have on shaping the world around us, making it not only a rewarding line of work in terms of challenges and earnings but also in terms of contributing to a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.

Educational Pathways

If you're interested in this career path, you may be wondering how to become a construction manager. While the required skills and experience can vary from one employer to the next, the reality is that most professionals working in this industry have a minimum of a construction management degree or a bachelor's degree in a related field.

A bachelor's degree in construction management can be a great way to kick-start your career while gaining the foundational skills and knowledge that you need to succeed. While no two construction management programs are exactly alike, a reputable program should prepare you to use the latest construction technology and innovations in your projects, manage a project from start to finish, ensure codes and regulations (including OSHA regulations) are being met and lead teams throughout the process.

Some construction management programs may also offer concentrations or tracks that allow you to specialize in a certain area of the field, such as commercial construction, residential construction, or civil works. Choosing a concentration can be a great way to gain more specialized knowledge in an area of the field that you may want to work in down the road.

Key Skills and Competencies

Working in construction management means not just having the right qualifications on paper, but also possessing some key skills and competencies that today's employers are looking for.

So, what are some of the most important construction management skills to strive for in this field? First, consider some soft skills that you can begin working on now, before you even enroll in a degree program. This includes analytical skills, leadership skills and communication skills. Construction managers must be confident and capable leaders, as crews and teams are constantly turning to them for guidance throughout a project. Meanwhile, construction managers must be able to communicate both verbally and in written form, one of the key skills employers seek in graduates..

Construction managers also need to have some technical skills to succeed in this line of work. More specifically, these professionals need to be up to date on the latest construction management building codes and trends at all times. They must also have a solid understanding of risk management in construction and be able to apply these principles to mitigate risk within every project.

Some other technical skills that can come in handy in construction management are:

  • Accounting and finance
  • Estimating
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Contracting
  • Ethics and legality
  • Safety and loss control

Gaining Experience in Construction Management

Even once you have a degree in construction management (or a related field) and have gained the skills needed to work in this industry, it's always a good idea to get some hands-on experience before you begin applying for real jobs in the field.

One of the best ways to gain experience in this industry is to explore construction management internships. With an internship, you'll have the ability to shadow or work alongside an experienced construction manager and see how things are done from start to finish. This can also be a great opportunity for construction management students (and graduates) to apply the theoretical knowledge they learned in the classroom to a real-world scenario.

Internships may be paid or unpaid, and many are offered directly through the college or university through which you obtain your degree. Some construction management degree programs may even have internships built into the curriculum.

Career Advancement Opportunities

If you're already working in construction or a related field, a construction management degree can be a great way to help advance your career to a leadership position. A degree in construction management can help you gain the competitive edge that's needed to qualify for jobs as a project engineer, field inspector, estimator or any other related position within this competitive industry.

Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Construction managers face a wide range of challenges on the job, though these can vary from one project to the next. One of the most common obstacles that construction managers and similar leaders face is that of budgetary constraints. Being able to keep projects on-budget while ensuring that all requirements are carried out properly is not easy and takes a great deal of managerial skill. Thankfully, construction managers receive specific training in this area, and there are some tools and software platforms that make tracking budgets easier than ever.

Another common challenge that construction managers run into is that of time management. Missed deadlines and other scheduling issues can run a project off-course and off-budget, which is why construction managers constantly need to keep a close eye on their teams and the supply chain at every stage of a project. In some cases, circumstances such as inclement weather can also affect the timeline of a project, so these leaders must be prepared to act and adjust accordingly.

Ultimately, a combination of training/education and experience can help construction managers (and those in similar roles) adapt and overcome challenges as needed. This ability is what sets the most knowledgeable and successful professionals in this dynamic field apart from the rest.

Learn More Today

Working in construction management can be a challenging yet rewarding career path for those interested in this line of work. Having a degree in construction management or a related field can help you build your skills and knowledge to improve your career prospects.

Looking for a great construction management degree program that will prepare you for the realities of working in this industry? The University of Minnesota's College of Continuing & Professional Studies (CCAPS) offers a bachelor's degree in construction management that is an excellent starting point, as well as a construction management minor that can supplement a related degree program.

Learn more about these excellent programs offered by CCAPS and how they can help you kick-start your career by reaching out today. You can also start your online application or set up a meeting with an admissions advisor to get the ball rolling.