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How to Become a Construction Project Manager

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Construction project managers combine their expertise in engineering and management to deliver projects on time and within budget. They prepare work schedules; manage a team that includes laborers, technicians and engineers; supervise subcontractor operations; and address emergencies. An interest in engineering or science; excellent leadership, business and decision-making skills, and a degree in construction or engineering are the tools you need to break into this position.

Gain the Knowledge

The first step for prospective construction managers is to complete an associate or bachelor's degree in construction science, civil engineering or building technology. Many workers use this credential to secure a lower-level job on a construction project and gain the technical know-how and experience required to move ahead. Although some workers who exhibit superior leadership abilities may be promoted to project management positions, others must complete a master’s degree in business administration or construction management to land the job.

Master the Skills

Project management is a multifaceted position that requires several key skills. To build and guide an effective and cohesive construction staff, for example, managers must have strong leadership and supervisory skills. When inspecting project sites, they need good analytical and problem-solving skills to detect and address unforeseen challenges. Because project owners often frown upon additional costs, managers must rely on business and time-management skills to minimize costs and ensure that construction activities meet deadlines.

Get Licensed

States have varying licensing conditions for construction project managers. While many states only license supervisors or managers of public projects, others, such as South Carolina, license all managers. To obtain a license, applicants generally need to demonstrate significant construction experience, pay a fee and pass an examination. Managers can also demonstrate their competence to potential employers by obtaining the American Institute of Contractors’ Certified Professional Constructor, or the Construction Management Association of America’s Certified Construction Manager credential.

Find a Job and Get On

Beginning construction project managers are typically hired by established construction management companies and architectural firms. After gaining vast work experience and obtaining a license, they can set up contracting companies and work directly with clients. Others may pursue a doctoral degree in construction management to secure teaching jobs in universities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of construction managers will grow by 16 percent from 2012 through 2022, quicker than the 11 percent average for all careers.