Construction Management

Construction management involves the entire process of a building project, from inception to completion. Types of projects run the gamut from houses to hospitals, schools, bridges, roads and other commercial structures. Construction managers must be skilled at creating projects that are viable and meet quality, cost and time standards. Construction management consists of seven main areas: time management, cost management, project management, safety management, quality management, contract administration and professional practice.

There are typically three main parties involved in construction management: the architect/engineer, owner and builder. These three parties work together to ensure the project is designed and built successfully and to owner specifications. The architect or engineer is generally only involved in the beginning stages, while the owner and builder are around throughout the course of the project. Larger and more complex projects may require multiple construction managers. Each one may be responsible for a specific area of the project, such as site clearing, foundation, framing along with hiring and managing subcontractors for plumbing, electricity and air conditioning/heating.

Construction managers must be aware of every detail of the project. Budget, scope, timeline, resources, delays, customer preferences and the details of the contract all must be taken into consideration. A huge part of effective construction management is being able to plan accordingly. A construction manager must hire workers and subcontractors to help complete the project in the time allotted, careful not to go over budget. Construction management also requires strong communication and interpersonal skills. Managers must be able to communicate issues with the client and build a strong relationship to help ensure the project is completed smoothly.

Construction management has many aspects, so the work environment may vary from day to day. Some days may involve desk work, such as scheduling, bidding and communication with workers and clients. Some days may involve hands-on work in the field supervising workers, meeting with subcontractors or actual work building the project. Depending on the proximity of the project to the construction manager's home, travel may be involved. Overtime, evening and weekend work may also be required in the construction management field in order to finish a project on time. Even while at home, construction managers may need to be on call to respond to delays and issues that arise. Although construction work can be dangerous, accidents are not common. It is important that construction managers be aware of safety precautions and teach them to employees.

Construction managers may be paid by a salary, while most are self-employed and paid by the contract. Those who are salaried work for another company and may enjoy benefits such as company trucks, cell phones and bonuses. Average pay can vary greatly, depending on the economy and the experience and education levels of the construction manager. Some construction management professionals may earn six-figure incomes and work continually throughout the year, while others may struggle and be unemployed for months at a time. When the economy is poor, construction is generally slow. Although construction projects can be found in any area of the country, more opportunities can be found in large cities and metropolitan areas. These areas typically offer higher pay as well.

Although a career in construction management can often be obtained through experience only, many companies are seeking those with bachelor's degrees in construction management or engineering. This is because construction is becoming more complex, requiring specialized knowledge in areas such as environmental safety, energy efficiency and worker safety. In addition, building materials and construction methods are always changing, requiring continual education in construction management. Even with a degree, practical, hands-on experience in the field is highly regarded. Certifications in the field are also becoming important, although they are still not typically required. The more experience and education, the better. Those who are self-employed are often required to obtain a contractor's license in the state in which their project is based. This involves taking classes and passing a written test.

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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