How to Become a Construction Manager:
The Definitive Guide


Are you a highly organized person?

Do you enjoy planning, supervising and negotiating with others?

Are you the type of person that enjoys building things, and seeing your vision come together before your eyes?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, or any of these questions, then becoming a Construction Manager might just be the right career choice for you.

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What is a Construction Manager?

Construction Managers are the go-to people on a job site.

Above all else, they supervise and coordinate what needs to be done on projects like building homes, commercial spaces, and even roads, bridges, the list goes on.

As a Construction Manager, you will oversee every aspect of the construction site.

This means you will be in charge of who is working on the site, specialized contractors that may need to be hired, and other personnel to get the job done.

You will work closely with architects, stonemasons, engineers, and everyone else that is required for the construction of buildings.

Duties

As a Construction Manager, you will be required to do many things throughout the day.

Some of the things that you can look forward to on any given day include:

  • Preparing and negotiating cost estimates, budgets, and work schedules
  • Selecting appropriate building and construction methods and strategies
  • Explaining all information to everyone on the team
  • Reporting on progress to clients
  • Collaborating with specialists to ensure everything is getting done on time and properly
  • Dealing with emergencies and other issues on the job site
  • Hiring and train laborers
  • Complying with all legal requirements, safety codes, and regulations

Salary

The average salary for a construction manager in the United States is around $110,000 a year.

The range typically falls in between $95,000 and almost $126,000 a year.

The range can vary based on skills acquired, experience, and time in the field.

In order to make the most out of your career as a construction manager, you may want to think about gaining certifications and additional skills in order to keep up with the ever-changing construction industry.

Depending on where you live and what type of construction you are managing can change the yearly salary as well.

Those that work in smaller cities will make less than those that work in large cities, as more construction is likely needed in bigger areas.

Average National Salary: $110,000

$95K
$102K
$110K
$115K
$126K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
*Salary information last updated 2019

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$103,461
Alaska$123,777
Arizona$109,166
Arkansas$101,833
California$123,336
Colorado$110,086
Connecticut$119,471
Delaware$115,938
Florida$104,896
Georgia$106,828
Hawaii$115,849
Idaho$104,214
Illinois$113,398
Indiana$107,877
Iowa$105,669
Kansas$104,786
Kentucky$103,902
Louisiana$105,779
Maine$106,442
Maryland$113,847
Massachusetts$120,134
Michigan$110,505
Minnesota$112,957
Mississippi$96,063
Missouri$105,227
Montana$100,093
Nebraska$101,252
Nevada$113,177
New Hampshire$112,073
New Jersey$122,077
New Mexico$100,921
New York$118,477
North Carolina$105,338
North Dakota$103,682
Ohio$107,811
Oklahoma$103,792
Oregon$109,975
Pennsylvania$110,196
Rhode Island$116,379
South Carolina$103,350
South Dakota$94,517
Tennessee$100,314
Texas$108,426
Utah$104,612
Vermont$106,332
Virginia$109,754
Washington$117,925
West Virginia$97,829
Wisconsin$108,761
Wyoming$98,271

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is Alaska, where the average salary is $123,777

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Alaska - $123,777
California - $123,336
New Jersey - $122,077
Massachusetts - $120,134
Connecticut - $119,471

How to Become a Construction Manager

Step 1Earn Your Diploma

You can’t really get anywhere today without having a high school diploma, or at least a GED.

In order to become a Construction Manager, you must obtain a Bachelor’s degree.

Before you enroll in a college near you, you’ll have to provide information that you have graduated from high school.

If you have not graduated, you can gain a GED by taking an exam and passing.

GED exam centers can be found in your local town by contacting your local high school or community college.

If you have all of that done, then you are going to want to apply to some colleges.

It’s also possible to attend a technical school that will give you experience in construction.

Step 2Obtain a Bachelors Degree

It’s evident that being a Construction Manager is a high-power job.

This means that you are going to be required to take some classes and further your education.

You will need to enroll in a Construction Management program at the university of your choice.

Some of the courses you can expect to take are:

  • Engineering
  • Electrical
  • Building Trades
  • Physics
  • Trigonometry

It’s also possible to go to a community college to get your general education done, and then transfer to a university where you can specialize in Construction Management.

One of the most important things to do with your time as a student is to participate in an internship.

This way, you will be on your way to gaining the experience that you need to work on construction job sites.

No one wants to listen to a Construction Manager who has never stepped foot on a live construction site before.

Step 3Gain Experience

During your time in college, and often after college, you are going to want to get onto a construction site and work every possible position.

This way, you will know what is required from everyone on the team and know what is required of you as the Construction Manager.

The more first-hand knowledge you have on every type of job site, the better you will be at managing a situation in the future.

You won’t be able to grab your Construction Management degree and head out to a job site the next day, you need a variety of experience.

Typically, you will work as an assistant manager right after graduation.

The more experience you have, the better.

Step 4Become Certified

After you have gained some experience and started working as a Construction Manager, it’s time to become certified.

Through the Construction Management Association of America, you can obtain a certificate to become a Certified Construction Manager.

In order to gain this certification, you’ll need to have a specific amount of work experience, four years of construction management experience, and take an exam.

Once you gain this certification, you will need to reapply every three years in order to stay up to date.

If you do not have a degree but have more than eight years of experience working in construction, and four years of working as a Construction Manager, you are eligible to take the exam and receive certification.


Education

Having the proper education and experience are the most important parts of becoming a Construction Manager.

You’ll need the education to learn about the ins and outs of the business of construction.

Gaining a Bachelors’s degree will help you in understanding the background of the career, but will also provide you with opportunities for experience.

Since experience is much more important in this career than formal education, doing an internship and working on construction sites while going to school is the best thing that one can do.

After gaining your high school diploma or GED, you are going to want to enroll in a trade school or at a university.

You can also find online Construction Management class opportunities, but these may not come with internships.

Things that you will likely learn through a Construction Management program include:

  • Construction contracts
  • Building construction drawing
  • Codes and Standards
  • Ethics and Safety
  • Construction law
  • Estimating
  • and much more.

Due to the fact that the program is considered a management program, you will likely take classes on financial management, project management, how to manage a construction project, operations management, and many other parts of the management area of the field.

Basically, you are going to be learning about more than one career field, business management, and construction.

Both of these fields will get you far, but you need to remember that an internship will help you out the most when it comes to working in construction.

Construction workers have a lot of experience in many different areas of construction.

You are going to want to make sure you understand every aspect of a construction site, from the sign holder to the clients, everything is important, and everything is your responsibility.

A degree in Construction Management can take around four years to complete, but with experience, you can likely enter a job before you even graduate school.

Video About The Career


Certification

A certified Construction Manager is the same as a Construction Manager, except for the fact that they have a certification that shows they know the job and are educated in the construction business.

You’ll need to be eligible to gain your certification before you can apply for one.

In order to be eligible, you need to have experience in the construction industry, typically this varies between states.

You’ll also need to have been working as a Construction Manager for at least four years.

Lastly, you’ll have to pass a test to show your aptitude in the field.

Some of the things that you’ll need to know for the test are contract administration and time management.

You’ll also want to make sure that you understand project management, cost management, safety and risk management, as well as professional practice.

In order to take the exam, interested parties must contact the Construction Management Association of America.

On the website for the CMAA, you can also apply to take an exam.

Certification can cost upward of $400.

Also, on the website, you will find several links for useful resources that can help you with the exam, as well as your career.

Although it is not required, most employers look for certified Construction Managers in order to be certain that they are hiring people who know what they are doing and plan on working in the field for a long time.

For the application through the CMAA, you will be asked questions like:

Do you have a BS/BA/MS/MA or qualifying degree?

Or an AA or another qualifying degree, 48 months of RIC experience, plus 4 years of construction experience?

You’ll also be asked to attach your resume.

Then you will be asked to pay for the exam, after that you will be able to take the exam at your time.

Certification Example:

Construction Manager Certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

There is no average training program duration to become a Construction Manager.

It’s all based on whether or not you have the experience necessary to fulfill the job requirements.

People that have much experience in the construction industry have the know-how to be a Construction Manager.

Without a college education, it takes roughly 12 years to become a Construction Manager.

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Job Outlook

Within the next ten years, the job outlook for Construction Managers will increase by ten percent.

More Construction Managers will be needed as buildings and overall construction activity expands throughout cities.

The population is rising, which means we need more houses, apartments, schools, doctor’s offices, and so on.

Another popular trend that has been happening lately, is for older buildings to become energy efficient.

This will help the construction business take off even more.

Construction Managers are a requirement to oversee all construction, this means that there will need to be at least one Construction Manager on each project.

As construction becomes more complex, the need for these managers is great.

Employment Growth Projection: 10%

471,800
2016
518,000
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 46,200 jobs.

Construction Manager: Interest Over Time


Should You Become a Construction Manager?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

Construction management is the number one best-ranked job in the construction field.

It seems that there is a very good chance for raises and promotions in this job.

With that being said, the career does have its downfalls.

The stress level for this job is extremely high, as you will be in charge of everything and everyone on the job site.

There is little flexibility with this job as well, you will likely work late and work on weekends when things didn’t get done the week before.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

The average salary for a construction manager can range from $95,000 to $126,000 annually.

Typically, people fall within the $110,000 range, but this depends on where you live as well.

Construction managers that have more experience in the field, and who have certifications and specializations tend to make more money than those just starting out in the business.

In order to become a Construction Manager, you will need a Bachelors’s degree, but if you gain a Master’s degree, you can make more money annually.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The job growth outlook to become a Construction Manager looks great in the next ten years.

Many more buildings, bridges, and roads are being constructed daily.

The growth in population also requires an increase in housing, schools, hospitals, and even hotels.

Depending on where you work, for example, if you work in a large city, it is likely that you will be working on more than one project at a time.

This can increase job productivity and also your salary.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

There are a few different tracks that you can take in order to become a Construction Manager.

The most popular one is to get a Bachelors’s degree in Construction Management.

Bachelor’s degrees can typically take four years to finish.

That, as well as an internship,  can take around 4 ½ years, depending on when you start your internship.

You can also work with a trade school in order to gain some experience working in the construction field.

Lastly, those that have worked in construction for over 8 years, and have worked as a Construction Manager for 4 years can become certified Construction Managers.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

It’s important to know what skills are needed for a Construction Manager, as you will be responsible for everything on a job site, including employees.

Some of the personal skills that a person should have include:

  • Analytical skills – you must be good at planning for large projects
  • Decision-making skills – you’ll need to be the head of decision making
  • Management skills – Construction Managers are in charge of everything on the site
  • Communication skills – Being able to speak and write clearly will help you tremendously
  • Time-management skills – Along with managing the job site, you must make sure that everything is done in a timely manner.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How much does a Construction Manager make?

On average, a Construction Manager can make around $121,000 a year.

This can vary, depending on your experience, certifications, and how much formal education you’ve had.

Those that have been in the construction industry for a while, and that have obtained a Bachelors’s degree will likely make more money than someone who has just come from college and has no experience in construction.

Q. What does a Construction Manager do?

The better question is, what doesn’t a Construction Manager do?

If it’s on a construction site, typically a Construction Manager oversees it.

Whether that be dealing with clients, taking bids, reviewing plans and changing things up based on need, or supervising the crew, a Construction Manager has a very important job.

Not only do they work on the construction site, but they work behind the scenes to make sure everything is working as it should.

Q. How long does it take to become a Construction Manager?

Depending on the route you take, it can take around four years to become a Construction Manager.

That is if you go to college and earn a degree.

If you decide to work in the construction business, and not get a degree, it can take up to twelve or more years in order to gain the responsibility of becoming a Construction Manager.

A degree will get you farther in less time, but construction experience is preferred by nearly every construction company.

Q. Is there a demand for Construction Managers?

Absolutely.

There will always be a demand for Construction Managers.

As the population grows, more and more buildings will need to be added.

Buildings like homes, schools, churches, hospitals, the list goes on and on.

Every city is building something at this current moment, the downside is that sometimes in the middle of winter, it’s not possible to build with the weather conditions.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Construction Manager?

The answer to this question really varies on the school that you go to, the state you live in, and which certification you decide to do if you decide to become certified.

A Bachelors’s degree can cost over $35,000 in most areas.

Some colleges cost more, and some cost less, it depends on the state you live in and which school you attend.

Certifications can cost nearly $500, and you will need to redo your certification every three years, which can cost around $200.

Overall, it can be an expensive career, but you will reap the rewards for sure.


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