A guide on how to become a construction project manager
Updated 28 April 2023
A project manager works with construction crews to coordinate the different teams involved in the development and completion of a project. They maintain schedules and budgets for the various specialists and skilled labourers to ensure the efficient completion of the project as a whole, taking each step into consideration. They oversee each step in the process and work with other managers to ensure a quality hiring and training process as well. In this article, we will discuss the required skills, average salary, and how to become a construction project manager.
What is a construction project manager?
Construction project managers oversee large-scale construction projects, often coordinating with several construction teams throughout the stages from development to completion. They maintain the project's budgetary and scheduling needs to ensure quality craftsmanship in a timely manner. They may manage direct and indirect costs to accurately plan according to the travel needs of the various crews and any inspections or maintenance that may occur throughout the process. Managers may collaborate with other managers or specialists within their given field of construction to ensure quality and efficiency.
A project manager directs the hiring process as well, often reviewing applications and conducting interviews for prospective members of a given construction crew. They often create and implement training programmes or schedules to ensure that the new employees function as a member of their current team regardless of previous working habits or processes. A manager plans each step of the construction process and inspects the work as the crews complete their work. If necessary, a manager may call a crew back to the site or contract a separate team to correct mistakes or quality control issues that present themselves.
Related: How to become a project manager
How to become a construction project manager
If you have a background in construction, management, or a combination of the two, you may want to know how to become a construction project manager. Project managers may create proposals for prospective clients and financial reports for current ones. They inspect and examine construction sites and the various methods and techniques involved in the project. They ensure the safety of their employees and the working conditions of each site. They are also responsible for meeting standards and requirements related to the conditions of employee treatment and the quality of the project's completion.
Project management requires strong leadership capabilities and communications skills to properly complete the daily functions of the job. They maintain records of employee complaints or compliance and of the job site's progress to meet the needs of their labourers and their clients. Construction project managers also perform various financial and administrative duties of management during the course of the project, coordinating with the company's other departments throughout. Follow these steps to begin your journey down this career path and become a construction project manager:
1. Examine your skills
Construction project managers must first be familiar with the industry of construction. They benefit from leadership and communication skills to better manage their crews but also interact with financial and business administration aspects of the job. Project managers work on each stage of a project and ensure the designs, scheduling and budgetary needs are met. Employers also appreciate bilingual capabilities in project managers to prevent miscommunications between teams or specialists. Other skills that may help are basics in time management, critical thinking and drafting techniques.
2. Obtain a related degree
Project management in construction typically requires a master's degree in civil engineering to better understand drafting and design, in construction science (MSCM) to understand every aspect of the construction process or in business management to understand large-scale teamwork. Some organisations may only require a bachelor's degree in one of the related fields. Smaller companies may accept a foundation degree in a related field along with specialised training specific to that company and work experience in construction.
3. Work in the industry
Businesses expect project managers to have previous work experience and education to provide adequate skills for the job. They should know each step of construction projects and be comfortable advising others on the processes and best practices in the industry. Employers may require sixteen to twenty years of tenure with the same company or at a comparable position or four to eight years of working experience along with a degree in civil engineering or architecture, for example.
4. Gain certifications
Employers want project managers to obtain certifications that ensure expertise. Membership with the Association of Planning Engineers (APE) ensures project managers are connected with specialists in the field and that they are familiar with the process of design and drafting. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) credits individuals with the necessary tools and knowledge regarding job site inspections and evaluations of the processes and methods used in construction. A National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety with the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH) certifies managers to adequately address health and safety standards.
5. Apply for the position
Research and review companies before you apply to ensure they can match your needs regarding salary and benefits, and that they work with clients and the quality of project you would like to work with. Make sure your CV shows your expertise in the field of construction and the combined skill and knowledge gained through your education and tenure. Showcase your ability to forecast the needs of your teams, from budgeting and scheduling to the implementation of standards and processes.
Construction project manager requirements
Construction project managers divide their workdays between various meetings with clients, specialists or other managers and visiting their job sites to ensure quality standards of safety and progress. They may work in an office building or at a given job site in an on-site trailer. They work flexible hours as needed, often on weekends or nights depending on the individual projects under their responsibility. The job itself demands a skill set and knowledge base that can maintain each step of construction along with the ability to solve problems on job sites and find solutions to various daily issues.
Required education and experience
Different companies provide expectations for the available role, which may include a master's degree, bachelor's degree or foundation degree accompanied by varying years of experience. Employers expect a specialisation in a field related to construction, such as civil engineering, construction science or business management. Employers may require anywhere from four to twenty years of experience for an open position in project management, depending on previous education and licensure. Research businesses to better understand the needs for their company or the projects that they are currently working on.
Required hard skills
Construction project managers utilise tools of the industry, depending on the demands of the project at hand. This may include a thorough understanding of civil engineering and city planning if the project expands to multiple properties. Managers do understand the terms of engagement with engineering whether it is their specialisation or if they are contracting engineers to work alongside their other teams. They understand drafting techniques and software, such as AutoCAD, and can inspect, edit and clarify specific designs of a project.
Project managers also have a thorough understanding of construction standards, including protective equipment and the regulations for any tools or machinery the job may require. They know the industry well enough to train new employees and update their existing ones through continued education programmes, as necessary. Management requires an understanding of the financial and business intricacies as well, including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which track progress and efficiency and can be balanced against projected and actual budgets or schedules as needed. Managers create reports to balance out the various administrative duties and to maintain a quality standard for their team.
Required soft skills
The roles of project management require soft skills that lend themselves to leadership and analytical problem-solving. Project managers develop their time management skills regularly, as they balance their own list of duties and tasks along with the progress of each team or contractor assigned to a project. They have a keen sense of planning and infrastructure, prioritising related duties to the team or specialist who can best complete each task. Meanwhile, communication skills allow them to relay information directly to specific individuals or to provide reports or presentations to large groups of people.
Related: 8 essential business manager skills
Construction project manager salary
The average salary for a construction project manager is £46,452 per year. Salary ranges may vary by the location of the job or company, tenure within the industry or by the hiring company itself, but this is an accurate estimate for the construction industry. Project management jobs may also pay more to manage multiple projects, provide consultations or oversee multiple construction crews. The job description of the specific position may make all the difference.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
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