Construction management, while not a widely-coveted career, is one that is extremely important for our society to continue to function, and rewarding for those who decide to pursue such careers. An online construction management degree can transform any day laborer into a full-fledged contractor.
Contractors are responsible for the oversight and planning of large construction projects from start to finish. They help bring together all construction functions—roofing, electricity, plumbing, wiring, etc.—to ensure a smooth building project. Construction managers work on all types of sites, including residential and industrial. Expect marketing and project management skills to pay generously in the construction management field. Median salaries range from $75,000 for those in residential construction to over $90,000 for commercial contractors.
THE CAREER PATH
Careers in construction management are for professionals who want to be a part of the construction process, not just during the hands-on building, but during the engineering and coordination of projects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some professionals may decide to specialize in a specific category within construction management, and some projects may require construction managers to oversee specific aspects rather than an entire project. Examples of these potential specializations include Electrical Installation, Plumbing, and Foundational Building.
In general, if you are interested in developing a career in construction management, you will need to be prepared for a variety of tasks that are involved in the planning, coordinating, budgeting, and supervision of construction projects from start to finish. Construction management professionals are responsible for duties such as:
- Preparing cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
- Collaborating with architects, engineers, and other specialists
- Selecting contractors and scheduling/coordinating their work activities appropriately
- Complying with all legal requirements, building and safety codes, and any other pertinent regulations
- Interpreting and explaining contracts and technical information to other professionals and clients
If you’ve been considering moving forward with a construction management career, there is no time like the present. Since construction, restoration, and their many specializations are going to be necessary for as long as humans inhabit the earth, professionals can count on having reliable employment. The expected growth in construction management is on par with the national average, at around 5% over the next decade.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Construction management careers aren’t just for anyone—this is not a job that allows you to sit behind a desk. Professionals in construction management have to be prepared to get their hands dirty, and they must have a love for working on construction projects.
Not only is it important to be fluent in the technical aspects of construction methods and technologies, as well as the analytical aspects of project engineering, but individuals in construction management professions need to have the people and business skills that allow them to perform the diverse tasks that this job requires. They must be able to communicate with many different individuals from various backgrounds, negotiate contracts, and coordinate workers effectively.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Earning a construction management degree online can allow you to continue working on-site and in the field while nailing down the basics, like project management, civil engineering and building science. Those with years of industry experience and direct labor expertise might do fine seeking an associate’s degree that layers management, communication and basic business skills on top of applied knowledge.
Certification or obtaining a contractor’s license will be important if you want to be competitive when bidding for public jobs and large developments. Check with your state licensing board to determine the education, experience and testing requirements to qualify for a contractor’s license. Licensing agencies include the Construction Management Association of America and American Institute of Constructors.
If you're eager to take a leadership role at a large company or want to oversee several projects at once, a master’s degree might make sense. A master’s or graduate certificate could be particularly useful if your bachelor’s is in an unrelated field, and you wish to switch careers and enter construction management. More than half of construction managers are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so any advanced study will help boost overall employment opportunities in construction management.
Before acquiring positions as a construction manager, it is typical for new graduates to be hired on as an assistant for a training period that may last the first few months or the first few years on the job. Most institutions provide a hands-on internship for their students, so you may want to make sure you check out degree programs with the best options for your goals and interests.
The construction management degree prepares students for leadership roles through a mix of management and construction courses. Study accounting and price estimation to ensure projects line up, budget-wise. Construction managers deal with loads of paperwork, so contracts and documents courses can make the process less painful and more efficient. Explore assessment tools and standards with an online quality management course.
Constructing a building can take months. Tap into project management courses for ways to stay on track. Learn how to select quality materials in a construction materials course. Safety matters, so expect a degree program to cover Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laws and regulations. A class in communications may make client interactions smoother and more productive.
Some professionals choose to validate their skills and increase their competitiveness by acquiring certifications, such as the Construction Management Association of America’s (CMAA) Certified Construction Manager, or the American Institute of Constructor’s (AIC) various certifications. In certain states, a licensure is required in order to practice construction management.
An online bachelor’s degree in construction management will generally cost between $30,000 and $50,000. However, it's very possible to acquire a quality education on a budget, so make sure to explore all of the possibilities before settling on something that doesn’t suit your goals or your wallet.