Construction general managers oversee the work of subcontractors and other construction workers, such as roofers, plumbers and electricians, to ensure work is correct, timely and on budget. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 523,100 jobs were held by construction managers as of 2010. While about two-thirds of construction managers are self-employed, construction general managers also work for employers in the areas of nonresidential building construction, residential building construction, building equipment contractors, heavy and civil engineering construction and architectural, engineering and related services.
Education and Training
The minimum qualification for a general construction manager is an associate's degree; however, many applicants have earned their bachelor’s degrees in fields such as construction science, building science, construction management or engineering. Bachelor’s programs typically prepare construction managers to handle areas including project design, management, construction methods, cost estimation, building codes and standards and management skills. Once hired, new construction managers typically work first as assistants under more experienced professionals for a period of several weeks to several months depending on the employer and the applicant's experience.
General construction managers coordinate workers' schedules ensuring each person completes their work in the correct order for the project to progress efficiently. They enforce safety rules and make sure all workers have the right tools, equipment and materials to get the job done correctly. General construction managers often interface with trade professionals, such as stonemasons and carpenters, and regulatory officials such as government workers and lawyers. They obtain the necessary permits and required variances and manage the details for several projects at once.
Because so much of his job involves multi-tasking, a general construction manager benefits from learning the tools project managers use to track, record and evaluate projects. An analytical mind, attention to detail and ability to make impromptu decisions based on objective criteria are skills a general project manager must possess. It is not enough to manage crises as they arise, however; those who excel at the job take the initiate to put policies and procedures in place that prevent accidents, extra work and waste. Because tempers can flare, a general construction manager must be able to mediate conflict and soothe egos to get the job done.
Salary and Outlook
The median annual wage for construction managers, as reported by the BLS, was $83,860 as of May 2010. While the lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,240, the highest 10 percent earned in excess of $150,250. A general construction manager's salary might include bonuses and overtime pay. While most construction general managers work full-time, they put in overtime when approaching deadlines, are self-employed or emergencies arise. The BLS projects the job outlook at 17 percent through 2020, compared to 14 percent for all other occupations.