Construction Manager Vs. Project Manager

The primary difference between project managers and construction managers is the scope of their project options. Project managers may work as construction managers, but they can also work in other fields. Read on to explore these careers further.

Comparing Construction Managers to Project Managers

Construction managers are professionals who specifically focus on construction-related projects. Project managers may also serve as construction managers, but they may be employed in other fields as well, such as computer and information systems management. These professionals use their abilities to coordinate staff and duties to ensure projects are completed efficiently.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)**
Construction Managers Bachelor's Degree $74,212 5%
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $71,938 6% (for management occupations)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics'

Responsibilities of Construction Managers vs. Project Managers

Since project managers may also work as construction managers, many of the duties of these professionals are comparable. In general, construction managers make budgets for the projects they're working on. They meet with other professionals who are involved with the project and clarify the project objectives. They also make a schedule and may be involved in hiring contractors or others who will work on the project. Their duties can involve traveling to work sites, addressing issues with project staff, adjusting schedules due to delays and keeping clients or other managers informed about the project's progress.

Construction Managers

In the past it has been possible for those with extensive experience in the construction field to advance to the role of a construction manager, but most employers prefer applicants who also have a bachelor's degree. Certification may also be an asset. Construction managers may concentrate on a particular branch of construction, such as residential construction, or may work for engineering firms. They oversee construction projects and the staff who work on them. Some of their duties may be done in an office, but they spend a lot of time at construction sites as well.

Job responsibilities of a construction manager include:

  • Traveling to construction sites
  • Creating project budgets
  • Hiring tradesmen and construction crews
  • Monitoring project progress
  • Adjusting schedules due to weather delays or other issues
  • Ensuring building codes and other regulations are followed

Project Managers

Project managers are the connective link between different professionals who are involved with a project. For example, a project manager overseeing a construction project may coordinate the duties of electricians and plumbers so that their work is completed on schedule. They are responsible for knowing about all the aspects of a project and coordinating with all of the professionals involved. There are a wide range of fields that project managers can work in, and it's common for them to spend a lot of time in office environments. Almost all management positions require applicants to have a bachelor's degree, and some employers may prefer individuals who have prior experience working in their field. For computer and information systems managers, for example, a master's degree may be necessary to pursue promotion to higher levels of management.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Talking to clients
  • Updating senior management about the project status
  • Monitoring the progress of project staff
  • Establishing deadlines
  • Managing the project budget
  • Attending meetings

Related Careers

Since the work that construction managers and project managers do is very similar and can overlap, those considering these professions may also find some of the same alternatives appealing. One option is to consider being a civil engineer, since construction managers work closely with civil engineers to ensure projects are completed properly and on time. Another option is to be a cost estimator, and specifically focus on preparing budgets for projects.

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