How to Become a Certified Construction Manager

Learn how to become a certified construction manager. Research the education and career requirements, certification information and experience required for starting a career in certified construction management.

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Should I Become a Certified Construction Manager?

Construction managers oversee construction projects from the early stages of development to the finished product. In addition to hiring and supervising workers, construction managers must estimate project costs, determine schedules, report progress, and ensure that safety codes are met. Construction managers work at least full-time, although longer hours are common as deadlines approach. Some managers must be on-call 24 hours a day. Their work environments are primarily in office settings and may include a site office at the construction location. Some travel is required between construction projects.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Name Construction management, architecture, engineering or other related field
Experience At least 5 years of experience is common among employers
Certification Voluntary certifications available
Key Skills Business, leadership, technical, communication, decision-making, customer service, analytical and time-management skills; ability to take initiative and read technical drawings and contracts
Salary $94,590 (2014 average salary for all construction managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Online Job Postings (July to August 2015)

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Construction Management

Construction managers typically enter the workforce having completed undergraduate study in construction-centered disciplines, such as construction management. Students can learn to transform project resources into finished products through courses in areas such as materials, design, economics, and more. Interested students might also earn degrees in building science or civil engineering.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship. An internship not only provides experience in the field, but it also may help with landing employment after graduation. Internships may offer insight into both the labor and managerial aspects of the industry.

Step 2: Gain Construction Experience

Becoming a construction manager requires previous construction experience. Prospective managers might work as management assistants after graduation. Such work experience provides first-hand knowledge of construction site operations. Construction management firms may provide training to prospective managers to prepare them for advancement opportunities.

Step 3: Achieve Certification

Through the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), individuals can attain the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) voluntary designation. Prospective CCMs with a bachelor's degree must meet particular work experience requirements, including four years of construction management experience, before applying and taking a test. Those without a degree who have eight years of construction experience plus four years working as a construction manager can also apply. CCMs must also submit to an ongoing recertification process every three years, which involves a combination of professional development and work experience.

Success Tip:

  • Study for the exam. Applicants for CCM certification are required to pass the exam within three attempts, according to the CMAA. Individuals who don't meet this requirement are barred from certification, so it's essential that applicants properly prepare for the test. The CMAA provides written materials that can assist applicants in preparing for the exam.

Step 4: Pursue a Master's Degree for Career Advancement

Certified construction managers looking to further advance in their careers may want to pursue a master's degree program in construction management. Graduate-level studies in the field emphasize practical applications of key management principles. Courses include construction materials and methods, labor relations, safety, public policy, and construction management practices.

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