Construction Manager Career Outlook and Salary

Construction managers are responsible for ensuring that construction projects are completed according to plan and on budget. Whether they specialize in home, commercial or industrial construction, or are building roads or bridges, these professionals can enjoy the satisfaction of seeing each project go from idea to blueprint to reality.

They may oversee an entire project from start to completion or work on a larger team, supervising one phase of construction. A typical workday might consist of tasks such as preparing project estimates and budgets, checking in at a job site, meeting with architects and engineers, and overseeing the permitting process.

Construction managers often develop work schedules, supervise workers and subcontractors, and prepare client updates. They are typically responsible for negotiating contracts and the cost of materials, choosing the appropriate construction method for a project and developing timetables.

As the go-between for clients, construction managers are expected to solve problems and interact with a wide variety of individuals, from construction workers to government officials. They source materials and specialists for site preparation, surveying, heating and cooling systems, plumbers, metalwork, windows, elevators, landscaping and more.

Additional job duties for construction managers can include:

  • Managing budgets
  • Hiring laborers and subcontractors
  • Supervising the quality of work performed
  • Suggesting corrections and improvements
  • Ensuring compliance with legal and safety requirements, building codes and environmental regulations

Job Outlook and Salary Range for Construction Managers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction manager jobs should increase 5% nationwide through from 2014 to 2024. New construction projects, revamping older buildings for energy efficiency, and upgrading roads, bridges and other infrastructure will contribute to construction manager job growth. The BLS reports job prospects are expected to be best for individuals with bachelor’s degrees and work experience.

A nationwide survey by the BLS found that construction managers earned a median annual wage of $89,300 in May 2016. The top 10% earned more than $158,330 and the lowest 10% less than $53,740 per year.

Along with a candidate’s work history and level of education, local and regional market conditions can affect job prospects and earnings potential. Median wages for top industries are:

  • Heavy and civil engineering construction: $93,980
  • Nonresidential building construction: $91,030
  • Specialty trade contractors: $84,270
  • Residential building construction: $81,450

Education and Training for Construction Managers

Qualifications for construction manager jobs vary, but most employers will require work experience and a bachelor’s degree. Some employers will consider candidates with associate’s degrees and strong work experience, although specialized education is increasingly emphasized as construction becomes more complex, the BLS reports. Degrees in building science, engineering, architecture or construction management are often preferred. Coursework in mathematics and statistics may be beneficial.

To be effective, construction managers must have good analytical, managerial and technical skills, and demonstrate initiative and solid time management.

Some employers may prefer candidates with professional certifications, which are awarded through organizations such as the Construction Management Association of America. Candidates must meet work experience and educational requirements, and also pass an exam.

A typical career path for construction managers might begin with an entry-level position as a construction worker before advancing to project manager or construction superintendent. With additional experience, training and education, the next step may be to positions such as vice president of construction operations or construction engineering manager.

Military Occupational Specializations

Many military roles employ skills and knowledge that are also used in the civilian construction management field:

  • In the U.S. Navy, roles include civil engineer in contract management, public works or construction battalions.
  • U.S. Army roles include engineer officer in the U.S. Corps of Engineers.
  • In the U.S. Air Force, similar roles include logistics officer, contracting officer and civil engineer.
  • U.S. Marine Corps roles include combat engineer, engineer assistant and engineer equipment chief.
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