Construction Manager: Job Description & Career Requirements

Keep reading to learn what construction managers do. Learn about education and training requirements. Find out what the career outlook and earning potential are to decide if this field is right for you.

Career Definition for Construction Manager

Construction managers are often the lynch pin of construction projects. They are responsible for construction sites 24 hours a day. Common duties of construction managers include planning, directing, and coordinating activity on construction sites, overseeing project design, hiring and supervising workers, choosing contractors, and monitoring supplies. They are also responsible for preparing budgets and estimates, reporting progress to clients, and complying with legal requirements. Construction mangers do not typically do any of the actual construction.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in building science or civil engineering
Necessary Skills Management, communication, interpersonal skills
Median Salary (2015)* $87,400
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 5%

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Increasingly, employers prefer candidates for construction management positions to have a bachelor's degree in a field like building science or civil engineering and relevant work experience. Common courses in a relevant 4-year bachelor's program include construction accounting, hazard management, green building, fundamentals of project management, project scheduling, construction law, and blue print reading. Increasingly, there has been a move towards certification for those working in construction management, though few require such a credential currently.

Skills Required

Construction managers must be able to easily give direction and delegate tasks. Strong communication and interpersonal skills are also critical to success in construction management. Exceptional managerial skills are also key.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for construction managers is expected to be good; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), projects that employment in this field will grow by 5% from 2014-2024. Median annual income for this field as of May 2015 was $87,400, according to the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Some skills necessary to become a construction manager will help prepare you for careers in other areas.


An architect is responsible for designing buildings, from homes to schools to offices. Architects strive to meet clients' needs and wants; they prepare drawings of planned structures and outline projects in terms of construction plans, building materials, and time needed to completion. Architects also make site visits throughout the construction process, shepherding the project from beginning to end. Being an architect requires either a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree or a professional master's degree in architecture. Architects are required to be licensed; licensure requires a professional degree, several years of work experience, and a passing score on the Architect Registration Exam. Architects can also earn professional certification from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The BLS expects that jobs for architects will increase 7% from 2014-2024, which is better than average. Architects earned median annual pay of $76,100 in 2015.

Cost Estimator

A cost estimator calculates what a project will cost in terms of time, personnel, and materials. The information that cost estimators use comes from blue prints, talking to engineers and experts, and computer software programs; they also consider potential pitfalls, like bad weather and supply chain problems. Cost estimators can specialize in construction or manufacturing projects. This career typically requires a bachelor's degree in a relevant field with an emphasis in math. Previous relevant experience is also highly valued by employers. Cost estimators can also earn voluntary professional certification. The BLS projects that cost estimators can look forward to strong job growth from 2014-2024 - an increase of 9%. Cost estimators earned median annual pay of $60,390 in 2015.

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