How to Become a Construction Manager in California

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How to Become a Construction Manager in California

Building projects won’t be completed without a construction manager.

These professionals are also known as project managers or general contractors.

They hold an important position as, at times, they must collaborate with government officials, among people with other different backgrounds.

It’s pretty clear this is an important job and it’s no wonder if more people would be interested in it!

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Read this article I wrote if you want to learn more!

Construction Manager Job Description

Let’s see some of the most important job duties:

  • Managing precise adherence to specifications on-site
  • Recruiting skilled personnel for building components
  • Ensuring timely delivery of construction materials
  • Addressing delays, irrespective of origin
  • Producing client reports on completed tasks
  • Controlling project costs within budget limits
  • Creates the concept and strategy of how the work will unroll
  • Manages finances

Obviously, with such care, the work at hand will go smoothly.

Project managers can specialize in several domains related to construction projects.

Specialization can be in endeavors such as:

  • Civil,
  • Industrial,
  • Commercial,
  • Residential,
  • Agricultural,
  • Institutional

Becoming a Construction Manager – Step by Step

There are several steps to complete until you can work as a construction manager.

Let’s have a look at them!

1st Step – Complete Your Education

Completing your education means obtaining at least an associate’s degree.

However, you’ll have better chances of getting hired with a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree.

Ensure you have a high school diploma before enrolling in any university or college program.

Those with just an associate’s degree are expected to have enough work experience in the construction field.

However, nowadays, employers expect even bachelor’s diploma holders to have such work experience.

Here are some of the topics you’ll study:

  • Design,
  • Structural science,
  • Engineering,
  • Materials management
  • Economics


If you’re not interested in pursuing a four-year degree after your associate’s, you can choose to accumulate relevant work experience.

If you hold just a high school diploma, consider becoming an independent contractor.

2nd Step – Become Licensed

Becoming licensed or earning additional certifications is not mandatory.

Additional credentials will only make your resume stand out.

These are some of the certifications available:

  • Certified Construction Manager (CCM)
  • Certified Professional Constructor (CPC)
  • LEED Green Associate
  • Certified Safety Manager (CSM)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

Construction Manager Programs in California

Let’s look at what programs California has to offer for future CMs.

University of California, Davis 

At this university, you can enroll in a certificate program.

It has a maximum duration of 12 months.

You’ll attend 6 online courses.

The tuition is between $4,462.50 and $5,250.

BIA, SRBX, and the American Society of Professional Estimators, among other associations endorse this program.

Entry- and mid-level construction professionals will benefit the most from attending this program.

Other categories of professionals will also find value in this course, especially if they want to hone their skills, change careers, or hope to earn a degree.

The university also offers 7 courses for which individuals can enroll separately as well.

UCLA Extension

You’ll earn one of the 2 construction management certificates at UCLA Extension.

The programs are:

  • Construction Management Certificate with 5 courses
  • Construction Management Extended Certificate with 8 courses

The program is useful for people with various backgrounds related to this industry.

You’ll learn how to work with software such as:

  • Bluebeam®
  • Primavera® P6
  • RSMeans® data

These are special programs used in the construction field to estimate the cost of a project, create or read blueprints, and communicate the construction schedule.

You can attend the programs in a classroom or online, and they last around a year.

As far as the cost goes, here’s an approximate breakdown:

  • $200 – application and becoming a candidate
  • $593 – textbooks and materials
  • $5,597 – program tuition

De Anza College

At this college, you have 2 construction management courses to choose from.

Both courses are at the associate’s level and cost $9,936 annually.

Furthermore, you’ll have to attend the classes on-campus for both programs.

Here are the names of the programs:

  • A.S. Degree in Energy Management and Building Science
  • A.S. Degree in Facility and Sustainable Building Management
School Name Address
University of California, Davis 1 Capitol Mall Sacramento, CA 95814 - classrooms
UCLA extension 1145 Gayley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024
De Anza College 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014
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Construction Manager Salary in California

When it comes to earnings, as a manager, your salary surpasses that of your team but falls short of your superior’s.

For instance, in California, construction managers earn around $147,345 annually.

However, certain locations offer higher compensation, as illustrated in the table below.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
Location Avg. Annual Salary
San Jose $167,649
Cupertino $167,649
Fremont $167,382
Portola Valley $167,249
Atherton $167,115
San Francisco $166,982
San Rafael $166,848
Burlingame $166,714
Fairfax $166,581
El Granada $166,447

Regional Salary in California

Region Employed Avg. Annual Salary Avg. Hourly Pay Top 10% Annual Salary Bottom 10% Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA590$123,750$59.5$178,790$75,700
Chico, CA170$105,090$50.52$158,080$54,140
El Centro, CA60$112,900$54.28$165,090$65,260
Fresno, CA930$110,310$53.04$157,940$75,180
Hanford-Corcoran, CA40$116,310$55.92$143,630$80,290
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA10,730$124,890$60.04$174,750$77,580
Madera, CA80$122,470$58.88$169,950$76,290
Merced, CA90$106,840$51.37$154,950$66,110
Modesto, CA380$113,770$54.7$165,030$67,040
Napa, CA140$140,280$67.44$199,950$85,600
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA650$116,910$56.21$171,810$54,330
Redding, CA130$109,640$52.71$163,110$55,000
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA3,210$115,980$55.76$165,130$75,760
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA2,660$120,300$57.84$169,120$73,350
Salinas, CA250$116,930$56.22$168,680$75,940
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA4,030$114,070$54.84$164,060$51,230
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA5,980$141,210$67.89$206,230$95,600
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,890$146,210$70.29$209,870$92,360
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA320$118,060$56.76$168,340$76,330
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA230$108,480$52.15$151,340$52,580
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA290$121,470$58.4$171,750$77,480
Santa Rosa, CA620$127,900$61.49$177,370$70,530
Stockton-Lodi, CA480$120,190$57.78$172,030$72,300
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA530$130,090$62.54$182,700$78,940
Visalia-Porterville, CA200$107,520$51.69$160,980$64,230
Yuba City, CA100$112,570$54.12$163,210$72,690
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Construction Managers, OCC Code 11-9021, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What skills do I need to become a general contractor in California?

Skills are indeed crucial for a construction manager, who needs many.

Here are just a few:

  • Leadership skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Teamwork abilities
  • Ability to take decisive action
  • Math knowledge

Is there an age limit to become a construction manger in California?

The short answer is no.

You can be hired at age 25 or 40 as long as you meet certain prerequisites, which will differ depending on your age.

Does a construction manager need a license in California?

For public works projects on public property, the answer is “yes.”

However, on private jobs conducted on private property, the answer is “no,” as long as the construction manager does not engage in or oversee any actual construction work.

In California, the Contractors State License Law mandates a contractor’s license for such activities.

USA Construction Manager Schools by State

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