In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statisticsfound that the demand for construction managers is expected to jump 16% by 2016. Construction managers make a median of $82,790. The range of their income isn’t bad either—the lowest 10% make around $50,000, whereas the top 10% earn $144,520 or more.

In other words, construction management is a potentially lucrative career for those interested in the construction industry.

Here’s how to make it happen.


Step 1: Balance education and experience

Construction managers may have no education and a lot of experience, or a lot of education and little time out in the field. Many construction managers have a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering. Schools with a strong reputation in the construction industry include Clemson UniversityUniversity of Washington-Seattle, and University of Oklahoma—Norman. Associates degrees are also common.

Other construction managers push even further and get master’s degrees—but such a degree is by no means required for entry-level construction management—if anything, it may price entry-level managers out of potential jobs. But for those with more experience and who want a master’s, Stanford UniversityTexas A&M, and the University of Houston are all highly competitive.

Construction managers may want to make themselves more competitive with certifications.

For example, both the Construction Management Association of America and the American Institute of Constructors offer certificates in construction management.

No matter the level of education, construction management candidates are more attractive to employers if they have some job site experience, either working as a contractor or engineer.

Step 2: Focus on construction management skills

Having an education and job site experience is not enough to make a good construction manager—future construction managers should zero in on the real skills that make construction management a valuable asset to construction companies.

Construction managers are the project managers of the construction industry. They manage projects from inception to completion, making sure that the final product is on time, in budget, and on scope.

When considering a career in construction management, future construction managers should focus on these five skills:

  1. Project management. Construction managers should feel comfortable crafting budgets, managing different work schedules, breaking up construction projects into benchmarks, and negotiating with stakeholders.
  2. Interpersonal communication. Construction managers are their construction firms’ leadership. They are often negotiating terms with clients, making sure their contractors’ voices are heard, and acting as a bridge between upper management and construction workers. They need to demonstrate that they are both good listeners and clear communicators.
  3. Workplace flexibility. Construction managers should be able to recover from negative events during the course of a construction project. Great project managers should be able to analyze the moving parts of a project and determine the best course of action for the project.
  4. Document management. Construction managers should be able to keep all documents related to a job in order—from the initial bid papers to job reports to licenses to contracts to blueprints. Construction managers must have strong organizational skills (or invest in learning document management software) to manage all the documents involved in construction jobs.
  5. Technical skills. Construction managers must be able to interpret technical documents, such as CAD files. Construction management software skills are a large plus.

Between getting an educational background in construction, getting on-site experience, and investing time into learning core construction management skills, job-seekers can mold themselves into the construction managers that employers are desperate to hire.

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