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Online Degrees in Building Construction: Program Options

Get info about online programs in construction management. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Many schools offer online degree programs in construction management at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. These programs can be completed totally online, with students usually viewing lessons and communicating with classmates and instructors through a school's website. Most programs allow students to access lessons at a time of their own choosing.

Online Availability Fully online programs are common at both levels
Degree Levels Available Bachelor's and master's
Important Prerequisites Master's - applicants required to have experience in the field

Bachelor's Degree in Construction Management

This online program focuses on construction management, and students learn about construction documents, estimating, accounting, safety, building codes, project management and performance management. Students are also given an opportunity to develop strong oral and written communication skills. A capstone project may be required in order to graduate.

Program Information and Requirements

Online bachelor's degree programs in construction management take approximately four years to complete. Applicants must have a high school diploma and taken the necessary standardized tests. Coursework, exams and assignments are completed through a college's web based system or through a virtual school. Instructors may educate students through streaming lectures, DVDs or online tutorials.

Course Topics

The courses combine areas involving construction management and organizational principles. Graduates must have an understanding of how to manage a construction site and communicate with owners and investors. Courses in this program include:

Building Construction Management

Students learn to manage industrial, commercial and residential building projects in this course. Topics cover project team creation, record keeping, managing documents, cost control, environmental considerations and subcontractor management.

Building Systems and Codes

This course covers plumbing codes, mechanical equipment and electrical systems for both residential and commercial construction. Students also learn energy conservation and environmental impact, inspection compliance and the organizations related to zoning and ordinances.

Cost Control and Estimating

This course teaches students about cost and accounting concepts associated with estimating building projects. Students also focus on areas involving direct and indirect labor, material, equipment depreciation, personnel and engineering costs. The course also emphasizes the approaches and computerized applications used to increase profitability, evaluate problems and improve progress.


Master's Degree in Building Construction

A master's degree in building construction educates students in the various aspects of construction management. Some schools may offer specialty tracks in virtual design and construction, sustainable environment, infrastructure development, international construction and residential construction development. A research paper, thesis or non-thesis option with additional coursework is usually a requirement to complete a program. Students enrolling in this program need to have a bachelor's degree and experience in the field.

Program Information and Requirements

Full-time students can complete this program in approximately one year. In addition to having a personal computer and Internet, students may need to purchase specialized software programs that educate them on construction topics and financial matters. Students can communicate with instructors and other students through chat rooms, instant messenger and discussion forums.

Course Topics

Courses teach students about financing construction projects, using environmentally friendly materials and integrating construction technology. Students must also develop communication and leadership skills to interact with construction workers, supply companies and investors.

Cost Analysis

Students learn about the procedures in cost analysis and study all phases of building construction, development and completion. Other topics emphasized include budgeting, conceptual estimating and project cost control.

Construction Materials

This class explores the materials used in building construction and the impact of their properties. Some of the materials studied include concrete, soil, backfill, aggregates and bituminous mixtures.

Environmental Regulations

This course covers environmental permits, laws and regulations applicable to building construction. Some of the areas of concentration include hazardous waste materials, onsite treatment systems and methods of disposal.


Career Information for Graduates

While many graduates with a bachelor's degree can work in construction management, opportunities are also available as a cost estimator. Cost estimators help owners and investors make bids on contracts by doing research on a property and evaluating the cost to complete a project. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that cost estimators earned a median salary of $60,050 per year in 2014 (www.bls.gov).

Those who graduate with a master's degree in building construction often work in management positions. Duties of a construction manager include planning and coordinating all phases of a construction project. The BLS reports that opportunities are expected to increase 16% from 2012-2022, which is a better outlook than the average for all other jobs. This growth is due to an increase in population and the need to make buildings more energy efficient. The median annual salary for construction managers was $85,630 in 2014.

Continuing Education

While not required, certification is available through the American Society of Professional Estimators. In order to become certified, applicants must have experience in the field and pass a written examination. Certification may open up promotional opportunities and help individuals earn higher salaries.

Similarly, certification at the management level is also not required, but may prove to potential employers that an applicant has a certain amount of competency in construction management. The American Institute of Constructors and the Construction Management Association of America offers voluntary certification, which requires a minimum amount of education, experience and the passing of a written exam.

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