Whether you work in information technology, health care, manufacturing or finance, you might see projects being delivered by project managers who have been certified by the Project Management Institute. The PMI's body of knowledge is globally recognized for its effectiveness at helping teams to meet project goals. In construction management, however, PMI certification is not enough and might not even be necessary. If you're interested in a job in construction management, you'll need to get your hands dirty first. Construction managers need to know the details and nuances of the construction industry.
A project manager is a subject-matter expert in managing business and technical resources to deliver a specific set of objectives in a set period of time. She coordinates resource assignments, tasks and milestones. Her goal is to deliver what stakeholders want on time and on budget. She uses formal processes throughout a project’s lifecycle, from initial planning stages to issuing the final communication to team members and stakeholders to show the project as complete.
A construction manager is a subject-matter expert in the building trades, including electrical, carpentry, plumbing and general construction. She understands how to turn a blueprint into a finished product and technical details at the skilled trade level. Depending on the type of project, she might work with regulatory agencies and local governments in addition to trade personnel and the client.
Both project managers and construction managers have schedules to meet using a limited number of resources. Each of these professionals must be able to give clear directions that get teams moving in the right direction, so strong communication skills are needed to effectively work with all team members as well as external resources. They must also know how to go about resolving problems that spring up along the way.
Construction managers are project managers with a special area of expertise. Not all project managers will have technical knowledge but a construction manager can’t succeed without it. Construction managers must also ensure safety requirements are met throughout the work process and see to it safety codes are addressed in the finished product.
A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.