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Become a Construction Planner: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a construction planner. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in the construction-planning field. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Construction Planner?

Construction planners or managers direct all the activities involved in various building projects. They oversee workers, manage budgets and cash flow, ensure that the projects are on schedule and figure out the best methods and materials for each job. They usually work in a field office at the job site and frequently work on multiple projects at the same time, requiring travel between sites. This occupation may be stressful as deadlines draw near. Long hours may be required to meet those deadlines and deal with unexpected delays in the construction process.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree preferred
Degree Field Construction science, construction management, engineering, or a related field
Licensure and Certification Voluntary certification available from the Construction Management Association of America and the The American Institute of Constructors
Key Skills Strong communication, interpersonal, analytical, decision-making, and time-management skills; extensive knowledge of engineering and construction methods; ability to use specialized CAD and project management software
Salary $87,400 (2015 median salary for construction managers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online.

Employers may prefer to hire applicants with at least a bachelor's degree in construction science, construction management, engineering or a related field. Voluntary certification is available from the Construction Management Association of America and the American Institute of Constructors. Key skills for construction workers include strong communication and interpersonal skills, analytical, decision-making and time-management skills, extensive knowledge of engineering and construction methods, and ability to use specialized CAD and project management software. In 2015, construction managers earned a median annual wage of $87,400 stated the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now let's check out the steps for becoming a construction planner.

Steps to Getting into the Career

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Construction planners might earn a bachelor's degree in construction management or construction engineering. Employers increasingly prefer to hire construction planners who have a 4-year college degree. These programs focus on construction principles, methods for running a business, human resources and budgeting. Students in these programs may take courses in cost estimating, safety, construction materials, mechanics and structural design.

To get the most out of your education, sharpen essential skills through elective coursework. Some colleges and universities offer courses in communication that are specific to the construction field. Strong writing and speaking skills are important to construction planners. They must direct workers and create the documentation related to projects. Starting to develop these key skills in college will be helpful to aspiring construction planners.

Additionally, find a school that offers management internships. Internships in a construction management program can expose students to the tasks that they are likely to encounter during their careers. Students who complete a construction management internship may be a step ahead of other graduates who didn't finish one. That internship is hands-on experience before you start to work on the job.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience in the Field

Experience in the construction field is very important for prospective construction planners. Planners need to learn the specifics of operating a construction site first-hand before working without supervision. In addition to pursing a college internship, planners could also gain experience while working as a skilled craftsman in the construction industry. This will make them familiar with the real and practical problems experienced by the workers who put a project together. In some cases, long-term experience may even be a suitable substitute for a bachelor's degree.

Step 3: Advance Your Career By Earning Certification

Certification is not required, but it is becoming an increasingly important mark of quality for construction planners. Achieving certification marks out a planner as a professional who has mastered the essential skills needed in construction management.

The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) offers the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) status, which doesn't require experience if the person has a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. The American Institute of Constructors (AIC) confers the Associate Constructor (AC) and the Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) designations. Earning the AC or CPC designations requires candidates to have a certain amount of education and/or workplace experience and pass the necessary exam.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree, experience either on the job or through an internship and possibly certification, construction planners can earn about $88,000 a year to direct all the activities involved in various building projects.

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