How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More
Construction Managers plan, direct, or coordinate, usually through subordinate supervisory personnel, activities concerned with the construction and maintenance of structures, facilities, and systems. Participate in the conceptual development of a construction project and oversee its organization, scheduling, budgeting, and implementation. Includes managers in specialized construction fields, such as carpentry or plumbing.
Table of contents
|Degree field||Construction Management, Architecture, Civil Engineering, Building science or other related field.|
|License or certification||Voluntary certifications available such as the Certified Construction Manager (CCM®)|
|Duration to become one||6 to 8 years|
|Difficulty to become one||Hard|
Construction Managers Requirements
Step 1: Earn Your Bachelor's Degree
Education is the short answer to the question of how to become a construction manager.
Earning a bachelor’s degree is an absolute must, one of the key requirements to meet. 76% of construction managers hold a Bachelor’s degree. Only a small fraction of people become construction managers without one. They make do with college certificates and post-secondary certificates.
We would also say it pays off to start planning your career as early as high school.
At this stage, keep an eye on budding opportunities in non-traditional high schools. Technical career programs and subjects such as engineering and electrical boost you prospects too.
Coming out of the high-school you should aim for the following degrees:
- Engineering (such as civil engineering)
- Construction management
- Building science
- Business Administration/Management
- Other construction-centered fields
Most bachelor’s programs are designed to last four years. During that time, you want to seek courses that teach you how to turn project resources into end products.
In other words, consider courses in:
- Economics (cost estimation)
- Building codes
- Mathematics & statistics
The construction processes of today are getting ever more complex. This is why there’s a very strong emphasis on specialization in fields closely tied to the technical side of management.
Step 2: Gaining Experience
An internship is a true game-changer in early career stages.
It allows you to get some precious, hands-on knowledge and it really stands out on the resume. There’s no better way to narrows the gap between graduation and the start of the professional journey.
Think about it. On average, new construction managers have several years of relevant experience under their belt. A completed internship lets you begin gathering that invaluable resource sooner rather than later.
That said, there are other ways to gain experience. You can volunteer as a management assistant after graduation. This is a way to fast-track the process of learning the ins and outs of worksite operations.
Some companies also provide training for aspiring and prospective managers. This practical school gives you a head start over many other job seekers out there.
If you decide to go down this road, prioritize programs that involve a lot of time on construction sites. In particular, try to hone one of the following skills:
- Business and leadership
- Technical (drawings, for instance)
- Contract administration
The training process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years. The length varies from firm to firm.
Step 3: Entering Professional Waters
Figuring out all the career paths branching out before you can be daunting.
The best bet is to go for an entry-level position. It usually entails acting as an assistant to a seasoned construction manager. You have to do that before becoming independent.
Namely, most construction managers (40%) eventually become self-employed. Those working for specialty trade contractors and nonresidential building construction companies are fairly common as well.
The rest lean toward heavy and civil engineering construction.
Do note that the job title doesn’t always say “construction manager”. Depending on your educational background, you can take on responsibilities of:
- General contractors
- Architectural engineers
- Real estate developers
- Construction project managers
Another matter to ponder is the niche you want to carve out. You can enter the residential, commercial, or industrial sector. There are no right or wrong answers here.
It’s also highly advisable to stay abreast of industry-shaping trends. Environmentally-friendly construction is certainly one of those.
Once you get your first job, put your communication and leadership skills to the test. With patience, experience, and additional resources, you’ll unlock career progression opportunities.
The list includes contract management, consultancy, and senior construction manager positions.
Step 4: Further Education and Development
The process of professional learning is always a work in progress.
First off, voluntary certifications can substantially help your cause. The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), for instance, offers Certified Construction Manager designation.
In order to apply for the exam, you need a bachelor’s degree and four years of industry experience. Applicants get three attempts to pass before they are disqualified for good.
You can pursue other certification and specialization opportunities from reputable providers like the American Institute of Constructors. They encompass construction accounting, sustainable design, and everything in between.
Finally, you can grasp for a master’s degree.
It gives you a powerful push, provided it’s focused on construction management exclusively.
It’s a chance to learn practical applications of management concepts and principles. Think in terms of material sourcing, labor relations, on-site safety, public policies, and so on.
These days, it’s even possible to find online master’s degree programs. These are a few great institutions that offer them:
- Clemson University
- University of Alabama (Birmingham)
- Norwich University
The list goes on, so feel free to explore further. Master the technical, business, and legal aspects of construction projects. Learn how to become a construction manager on your own.
Step 5: Opening Your Construction Management Business
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a well-paying job as a construction manager.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay in 2019 was $95,260. And there are over 470,000 positions waiting to be filled. The number is only going to grow.
Another exciting option is to open your own construction management business. This can be an even more lucrative and demanding path.
If you want to take it, start by researching the market and scoping out your competition. This spadework is essential to sound strategic positioning. It also provides insights for drafting a business plan.
Speaking of which, you have a few decisions to make.
See if you want to offer new construction services or home improvements and remodeling. Determine your company’s legal structure and pick the location for your headquarters/offices carefully.
It should be in proximity to your target market.
The final order of business is securing financing. Calculate how much money you need to sustain day-to-day operations and processes like marketing. Look for investors or apply for grants and loans.
What degree do most Construction Managers have
We did a survey to ask other Construction Managers what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.