Should I Become a Construction Superintendent?
Construction superintendents, or construction managers, supervise the building of residential homes, commercial buildings, bridges, roads, hospitals, schools and other structures. They strive to direct workers efficiently with the goal of completing construction jobs under budget and on time.
These professionals often need several years of experience in the construction industry before they can advance to the position of construction manager. Once they get there, however, they can expect to earn a higher-than-average salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They can also expect to sometimes put in long hours on-the-job to make sure project deadlines are met. Obtaining a career as a construction superintendent often requires some form of postsecondary education, along with significant experience.
|Degree Level||High school diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree, depending on employer|
|Degree Field||Construction management, construction science, architecture, engineering|
|Certification||Certifications not required but recommended|
|Experience||3-10 years in the field|
|Key Skills||Time management, strong speaking and listening skills, good vision, knowledge of AutoCAD, Microsoft Office suite software, Lombardi Teamworks, Axios Systems assyst, HCSS HeavyBid and UDA Construction Office Construction Management programs|
|Salary||$85,630 per year (Median salary from May, 2014 for construction managers)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings accessed in January 2013, ONET Online
Step 1: Choose an Educational Route
Several educational paths exist for potential construction superintendents. A high school diploma or an associate's degree, combined with work experience, can qualify one for some positions. However, acquiring a bachelor's degree in building science, civil engineering, construction management or construction science has become more common. Classes in these programs focus on design, cost estimating, contract administration, construction methods, building codes and other construction topics.
- Consider an internship. An internship can help an aspiring construction superintendent or manager gain the work experience needed for a construction superintendent job. Many schools offer assistance in finding an internship or even a part-time job.
Step 2: Gain Work Experience After Graduation
While internships or externships might be an option while attending school, many construction superintendents start their work experience after graduation in entry-level construction trades. Working in one of these positions can help an aspiring construction superintendent understand the responsibilities of the various workers needed to complete a construction job.
- Look for training opportunities. Some employers offer training for aspiring construction managers or superintendents by employing them as assistants to managers already on the job. Training periods can last weeks or months, with assistants gaining valuable experience before being asked to take on autonomous work responsibilities.
Step 3: Consider Certification
Voluntary certification is highly valued in the construction industry. Possessing certification can prove a construction superintendent's competence and experience. Many organizations offer professional designations. For example, the American Institute of Constructors offers the Associate Constructor and Certified Professional Constructor designations to applicants who pass an examination and meet work and education requirements (www.professionalconstructor.org). One also could become a Certified Construction Manager through the Construction Management Association of America (www.cmaanet.org).
Step 4: Consider Additional Education
Construction superintendents who want to stand out to employers might consider a master's degree program in construction science or construction management. Having an additional degree could increase their chances at working for a large construction company and provide more opportunities for career advancement. A master's degree program in construction management might include courses in contracts, construction finance and project management.