How to Build a Career in Project Management for Construction

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Nov 13, 2018

Nov 13, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Construction project management has become one of the fastest growing industries today. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the career field will grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is faster than the average of all occupations.

Now is the perfect time to begin a career in project management for construction. However, there is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into being a project manager and becoming a project manager.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of becoming a project manager and how best to get your foot in the door!

Project Management for Construction Description

Before diving into becoming a construction project manager, it may help to know exactly what that entails.

A project manager handles the planning, overseeing, and leading of construction projects. Often times the project manager will have to juggle many moving parts within one project.

Additionally, construction managers must also read more about current construction trends. Paying attention to new standards, techniques, and technologies in order to most effectively plan and lead a project.

Because of the scope of the duties and responsibilities of the position, the qualifications for potential candidates is pretty extensive and rigid. Qualifications include having either an educational degree, certification, training or experience. Any combination of those is crucial in getting a leg up on the competition for jobs.

The average salary for a project manager is a little over $90,000. Many companies will also offer allowances and benefits for management positions.

Education and Certifications

Bachelor's degrees or certifications are crucial to having a career in construction management. Degrees and certifications may not be a requirement, but they are highly preferred among employers.

Bachelor's Degree

There are a few areas of study to get degrees in that will give you the best chance at standing out from the competition. Focus getting your degree in either construction engineering, building science, and construction science. A bachelor's degree in either of those fields will help put you above the competition.

But, if schools near you don't offer those degree programs there are other options that will also help. Degrees in project control and management will also work. As well as community college courses in management, project management, and construction management.

Certifications

Certifications on a resume work a little differently than academic degrees. Most companies do not need certifications as part of their job qualification standards. But, having a certification can set yourself apart from any competition and give you a serious leg up.

A couple of organizations that offer certifications are the American Institute of Contractors (AIC) and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).

The AIC offers the Associate Constructor and the Certified Professional Constructor certifications. These focus heavily on management skills within the construction industry. The CMAA offers certified construction management course.

While formal education and certifications are extremely helpful in landing a job, they are not the only thing employers look for. They also look for any on-the-job training and experience.

Training and Experience

Some form of experience working in construction is required by almost all employers. This helps them to feel better that you already know your way around a construction site and crew. While a fellow candidate for a job may have several degrees and certifications, he may lose to someone who has more work experience in the field.

Experience

In construction, experience is a necessity. This is due to the safety regulations, laws, policies, and procedures that must be abided by. An understanding of coding, standards and how things go at a site will also make you stand out to employers.

Experience can come in many forms either as a laborer, intern, or assistant. Any amount of experience in the industry is one less concern or worry for an employer hiring for a position.

Training

If you currently work for a construction firm, ask your supervisor about any specialized training or training positions that might be available. An example of a training position would be an assistant construction manager position.

An assistant construction manager is a little more hands-on than the construction manager. Yet, it does come with on-the-job training which will give you another leg up on the competition.

If you don't already work for a construction company ask around to the various companies in your area to see if they have an internship program. This will also count as training and experience and give you another leg up on the competition.

Plan Your Career in Construction Management

Knowing what employers look for in candidates will help in planning a career in project management for construction. Your plan should include getting a degree or certification and gaining experience.

Keep in mind the strongest resumes won't have experience and certifications alone on them. Your resume should show a degree in a related field as well as some experience in management. Experience in management can be either an internship or working as an assistant.

No matter the career field you wish to enter you should have a plan. Your plan should include:

  • Knowing what degrees you will need
  • Certifications you should get
  • Training
  • Experience

Not all companies are the same either. The job description from one company to another may be different so be sure to read the full job description. This will help you to know if there is any other training you need or you may already possess that will set you apart.

Doing your research will provide you with valuable information to help you get a leg up on the competition. Sources like job search pages with blogs like ours and recruiter websites will provide you with the information you'll need for a new career.