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How to Become a Construction Project Manager

Are you confident in your time management skills? Are you great at following a budget? If so, you could be the perfect fit for a construction project manager. In this position, you will be tasked with ensuring that the construction team completes the project in a timely manner while remaining on budget. You should have excellent communication skills, a strong background in construction, and knowledge of OSHA standards. 

You will spend the majority of your time working with architects and designers before going to the construction team. As the middleman, you will need clear communication skills so that nothing gets lost in translation. As long as you’re an expert in guiding projects from start to finish, this position will be great for you.

Sample job description

If you are an expert at resource allocation and love guiding a project to success from start to finish, then you could be the perfect fit for our construction project manager at [Your Company Name]. Construction project managers oversee the entire spectrum of the building process. They work closely with the architects, engineers, employees, sub-contractors, and clients to build plans, establish costs and timelines, and gather permits. They also distribute resources, manpower, handle risk and time management, and maintain relationships with clients during the project’s lifespan.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Prepare estimates for clients
  • Meet with clients during the project
  • Schedule workers for projects
  • Meet with architect and construction workers at the job site
  • Negotiate with vendors and subcontractors
  • Monitor progress on projects
  • Meet deadlines
  • Process change orders

Education and experience

  • Construction project managers need a high school diploma or equivalent. Students should go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in a field such as civil engineering or construction management. Internships help a lot, as they provide valuable on-the-job training. A master’s degree, although not required, improves graduates’ career opportunities. Certifications also are available.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong leadership and interpersonal skills
  • Time-management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Technical and computer skills for scheduling and budgeting
  • Ability to manage risks and deal with change
  • Outstanding decision-making skills
  • Calm, professional demeanor
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • 5+ years managing a team of constructions workers or general contractors
  • Ability to manage multiple ongoing large projects
  • Bachelor’s degree in construction management, business, or related field
  • Bilingual/Spanish-speaking

Typical work environment

Construction project managers will find themselves working at job sites, meeting with clients and colleagues at any number of different locations. There may be caustic chemicals, dangerous machinery, loud noises, bright lighting, and much more. The project might be very high up, or even underground, and may require a lot of walking and long periods of standing.

Aside from these situations, a portion of time will be spent on a computer organizing budgets, stocking inventory, and more.

Typical hours

Project managers often work regular hours, 9 AM to 5 PM, typically in an office at a construction site Monday through Friday. They frequently log more than 40 hours a week and might need to work in the evenings or on weekends to meet deadlines. Project managers also might be on-call, meaning they must be available to work on short notice.

Available certifications

As construction project managers work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • Project Management Professional. The PMP is one of the best certifications you can obtain if you’re interested in moving into a position as a construction project manager. This widely recognized certification will demonstrate you possess the fundamental skills to produce tangible results, lead teams, and finish projects.
  • Certified Construction Manager. The CCM, provided by the Construction Management Association of America, offers two separate and distinct certifications depending on where you’re at in your journey. This is typically referred to as the gold standard, and should be highly considered if not already obtained.
  • Certified Professional Constructor. The American Institute of Constructors offers two levels of certification. You can become an associate constructor, and then the CPC. The certification course takes a comprehensive look at effective and efficient practices for construction and requires the holder to adhere to the AIC Code of Ethics, serving as a show of your character.

Career path

The first step to becoming a construction project manager is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Students should then pursue a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related major. An internship during college can provide hands-on experience. Those who go on to earn a master’s degree will enhance their career opportunities. Organizations such as the Construction Management Association of America and the International Code Council offer certifications.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-9021

2020 Employment448,000
Projected Employment in 2030499,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 11% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift51,400 increase

Population growth means that construction-related jobs, and Project Managers, in particular, will continue to be in demand. Maintenance, improvements, and construction of roads and bridges also will create more job opportunities. The emphasis on environmentally friendly development and energy efficiency should give the industry a boost as well.

Job prospects in the construction industry tend to ebb and flow with the economy. The Construction Management Association of America offers career coaching, a learning center, and job listings for candidates.