Construction managers plan and oversee construction projects from the first stage to completion. They work alongside architects and engineers, and supervise subcontractors. A construction project can be complex and involve many diverse tradespeople. Therefore, the ideal construction manager is characterized in job descriptions as someone who can plan and balance project details, and communicate comfortably with clients and project team members.
Construction project managers must have exceptional organizational and planning skills. They coordinate projects and keep track of all the details and people involved. With the ability to multitask, construction project managers can plan and oversee multiple projects simultaneously. Also, they must speak and write clearly to lead and participate in discussions and prepare contracts and reports. As project leaders, they must know how to supervise people, resolve conflicts, keep the work on schedule and see that it's completed on time. Proficiency in project-management software helps with scheduling work tasks. Knowledge of Occupational Health and Safety Administration standards is essential as well. Construction project managers must be effective contract negotiators. And they need to understand basic accounting procedures to manage a project's finances.
Construction project managers estimate production costs, prepare budgets and set timetables for the work. They negotiate contracts with clients and the cost of goods and services with vendors and suppliers. Project managers determine which construction techniques are best for the project and plan a strategy for getting it completed, while staying within budget and controlling work quality. They're responsible for getting any permits that municipalities and states require before construction begins. They schedule orders for materials and supplies. They're also responsible for maintaining a safe work site by complying with OSHA standards and conducting site inspections. Project managers consult with engineers, architects, lawyers, builders and others in the construction trades. They hire and supervise roofers, electricians, carpenters and masons, among other subcontractors.
Project managers meet with clients to discuss budgets and report on the work's progress. They also meet with subcontractors for progress updates. They resolve interpersonal conflicts among workers, handle mistakes or delays with orders or shipments, and respond to emergencies. Occasionally, they meet with fire marshals and other municipal officials in the tax assessment, planning and zoning, building, or water and sewer departments. They apply for variances, or special permits, when construction projects conflict with zoning regulations. Before excavating construction sites, project managers lead searches for underground sewer, gas, water and power lines to avoid hazardous obstructions. They also order sanitary services and waste containers for sites.
There are different educational routes you can take to become a construction project manager. For example, Jason and Jacob Plourde, project managers with PlourdeEnterprises, LLC, a Connecticut-based construction firm, attended a technical vocational high school to learn the construction trade. An associate's degree in construction management or construction technology is sufficient for some trades and projects. However, many employers often look for professionals with four-year degrees in construction management, construction science, engineering or architecture. Coursework is offered in construction methods and materials, project control and management, cost estimation, design, contract administration, building codes and standards, statistics and mathematics. Certification is not required but has become more important because it demonstrates expertise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Valerie Bolden-Barrett is a writer, editor and communication consultant specializing in best business practices, public policy, personal finance and career development. She is a former senior editor of national business publications covering management and finance, employment law, human resources, career development, and workplace issues and trends.