Construction Managers

What Construction Managers Do

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

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Work Environment

Many construction managers have a main office, but spend most of their time working out of a field office at a construction site, where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities. The need to meet deadlines and respond to emergencies often requires construction managers to work many hours.

How to Become a Construction Manager

Construction managers typically must have a bachelor’s degree, and learn management techniques through on-the-job training. Large construction firms increasingly prefer candidates with both construction experience and a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field.

Pay

The median annual wage for construction managers was $95,260 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Construction managers are expected to be needed to oversee the anticipated increase in construction activity over the coming decade. Those with a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering, coupled with construction experience, will have the best job prospects.

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Duties

Construction managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
  • Interpret and explain contracts and technical information to other professionals
  • Report work progress and budget matters to clients
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction specialists
  • Select subcontractors and schedule and coordinate their activities
  • Respond to work delays, emergencies, and other problems
  • Comply with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations

Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a wide variety of projects, including the building of all types of public, residential, commercial, and industrial structures, as well as roads, memorials, and bridges. Either a general contractor or a construction manager oversees the construction phase of a project, but a construction manager may also consult with the client during the design phase to help refine construction plans and control costs.

Construction managers oversee specialized contractors and other personnel. They schedule and coordinate all construction processes so that projects meet design specifications. They ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. Some construction managers may be responsible for several projects at once—for example, the construction of multiple apartment buildings.

Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, civil engineers, and a variety of trade workers, including stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Projects may require specialists in everything from structural steel and painting to landscaping, paving roads, and excavating sites. Depending on the project, construction managers may interact with lawyers and local government officials. For example, when working on city-owned property or municipal buildings, construction managers sometimes confer with city inspectors to ensure that all regulations are met.

For projects too large to be managed by one person, such as office buildings and industrial complexes, a top-level construction manager hires other construction managers to be in charge of different aspects of the project. For example, each construction manager would oversee a specific phase of the project, such as structural foundation, plumbing, or electrical work, and choose subcontractors to complete it. The top-level construction manager would then collaborate and coordinate with the other construction managers.

To maximize efficiency and productivity, construction managers often perform the tasks of a cost estimator. They use specialized cost-estimating and planning software to show how to allocate time and money in order to complete their projects. Many construction managers also use software to plan the best way to get materials to the building site.

Construction managers held about 476,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of construction managers were as follows:

Self-employed workers 38%
Specialty trade contractors 17
Nonresidential building construction 16
Residential building construction 10
Heavy and civil engineering construction 8

Many construction managers have a main office, but they spend most of their time working out of a field office at the construction site, where they monitor the project and make daily decisions about construction activities. For those managing multiple projects, frequent travel between sites is required.

Work Schedules

Most construction managers work full time. However, the need to meet deadlines and to respond to delays and emergencies often requires construction managers to work many additional hours. Many construction managers may also be on call 24 hours a day. Some construction managers work more than 40 hours per week.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of construction managers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor’s degree $80,750

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor’s degree $144,830

Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, and supervise infrastructure projects and systems. 

Bachelor’s degree $87,060

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor’s degree $65,250

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.

Bachelor’s degree $69,360

For more information about construction manager certification, visit

American Institute of Constructors

For more information about construction management and construction manager certification, visit

Construction Management Association of America

For more information on accredited construction science and management educational programs, visit

ABET

American Council for Construction Education

NCCER

O*NET

Construction Managers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Construction Managers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm (visited ).