How to become a construction manager: a step-by-step guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 6 October 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Construction managers are professionals who conduct various duties on construction sites and across several settings. There is usually high demand for construction managers because construction itself is such a huge industry. It's important that you understand the educational and experience requirements to become a construction manager before pursuing it as a career. In this article, we discuss what a construction manager is, what they do and include a step-by-step guide on how to become a construction manager.

How to become a construction manager

If you're wondering how to become a construction manager, the first thing this role requires is a certain level of education and experience. This is because construction managers rely on a certain skill set to perform their daily duties. You can develop these skills through training programmes and on-the-job experience. Here are some steps on how to become a construction manager:

1. Pursue an education

A bachelor's degree is sometimes a requirement to become a construction manager, so check job specifications first. Consider a degree in a relevant subject, such as:

  • architecture

  • building science

  • engineering

  • civil engineering

  • construction engineering

Undergraduate study typically takes around four years to complete and teaches students fundamental skills such as material management, design methods and economic management. Alternatively, you can get the position of construction manager with a two-year-long associated degree and relevant work experience. Some colleges also offer courses in construction management for those looking to take a vocational route. Afterwards, you can apply for an apprenticeship through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

2. Gain experience

To become a construction manager, you're expected to have considerable work experience in the industry. There are several opportunities to work in an entry-level position and work your way up to a construction manager role. For example, search for site engineer, building surveyor or facilities manager. Some universities offer students the chance to work in the industry for a year, so enquire about this while undertaking your studies.

3. Earn licensure

To work on a construction site, you're required to get a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card and pass a health and safety test. Specific licences help boost your earning potential and employability. Licensed programmes are available at several health and safety institutions and examine individuals in different aspects of construction management.

These include the legal perspective in construction management, construction processes and leading team exercises. These courses give you Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Higher National Diploma (HND) recognition, which many employers want. Some undergraduate degrees are HSE certified, so consider this when searching for universities to attend.

4. Consider an advanced degree

Postgraduate study is a great way to further your skills as a construction manager. This is because master's programmes are often more specialised and can help you build up core skills. These degree schemes typically take around two years to complete on a full-time basis. Some relevant subjects include construction management, building engineering and project management.

5. Develop your skills

Construction managers need more than practical skills to perform their duties. They also have proficient soft skills that allow them to communicate with others and understand difficult concepts. As a construction manager, you need:

  • Communication skills: Construction managers interact with different people, including contractors, designers and government officials. They have strong communication skills that everyone understands their role and can complete it safely.

  • Technical skills: You usually develop mathematical ability through school, but construction managers can apply this knowledge in technical settings. They use financial computer software and help designers in blueprint creation. As a result, these technical skills are useful in both practical and administrative business aspects.

  • Problem-solving skills: Construction managers encounter many factors that can affect business plans or disrupt timelines, including bad weather conditions, low budgets or unreliable material providers. Project managers use problem-solving skills to face these challenges and delegate actions accordingly.

  • Organisational skills: Since construction managers have several responsibilities, it's important that they organise them appropriately. This means that they plan their workload and prevent oversights to ensure demand completion and that the project maintains on track for success.

  • Motivational skills: Construction managers work long hours, but it's crucial that they motivate their team during each project stage. You can meet or exceed customer expectations by fostering high productivity and a healthy work environment.

6. Create a CV

It's important that you register your skills, experience and educational achievements on your CV. Portray yourself in the best possible light by highlighting your training and knowledge related to the field. Search job specifications and note down any keyword concepts that appear more than once. Include these in your CV where you have demonstrable experience. Many employers ask you to have a cover letter to accompany your CV. The STAR method is a good format to follow when writing a cover letter, as it ensures you back up your skills with real-world experiences or qualifications.

The STAR interview technique means you're making sure to give examples and answers that include a:

  • situation

  • task

  • action

  • result

This structure allows you to clearly show how you changed and improved the situation.

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Technique in Competency-Based Interviews

7. Search and apply for jobs

Once you've developed your skills and have obtained the education and experience requirements, search for construction manager jobs online or ask in local businesses. Consider expanding your search to different geographical locations, as some jobs may only require a short commute. Alternatively, you can refine your search according to what industry you want to work in and your salary requirements. For example, you could work in civil construction or on industrial projects.

If your initial applications are successful, answer practice questions in the lead up to the interview. You can bullet point your answers or ask a trusted friend or colleague to perform a mock interview with you. Consider industry-related and generic interview questions.

Related: 139 Action Verbs to Make Your CV Stand Out

What is a construction manager?

Otherwise known as a project manager or general contractor, a construction manager is a trained individual who oversees all aspects of a construction project. This means that they're involved in the planning, design, budgeting and building of construction jobs. At each stage, construction managers consult clients to ensure they're meeting their demands and strategising accordingly. They typically work on building constructions and various other structures.

Construction managers work long hours to perform both practical and administrative responsibilities. They direct other personnel to meet time-sensitive deadlines and ensure they follow health and safety protocol when working. Travel is a primary aspect of a construction manager's role since they meet with government officials and engineers to complete projects.

What does a construction manager do?

A construction manager has an array of responsibilities that vary from day to day. Their workload depends on which part of the construction process they're overseeing, whether it be initial planning or budgeting. Some construction manager duties include:

  • working alongside architects and designers to determine a structure's physicality

  • ensuring that all projects follow compliance standards and safety procedures

  • managing a labour force and delegating work to different teams

  • creating progress reports for clients

  • overcoming work delays that occur from weather conditions, emergencies or material shortages

  • being the point of contact for the public and subcontractors

  • managing material deliveries

  • hiring new staff and training employees

  • planning work schedules

  • developing project strategies that ensure work is time-efficient

  • relaying plans to engineers, architects and surveyors, notifying them of any changes

  • ensuring new builds meet project specifications

  • preparing budgets and ensuring projects remain within financial guidelines

  • hiring relevant subcontractors to undertake various project roles

  • keeping up to date with new health and safety standards

  • maintaining a safe work environment

  • creating project deadlines and coordinating work to complete deadlines

Related: 10 Good Manager Qualities That Help Teams Succeed

Construction manager salary

The national average salary of a construction manager is £53,045 per year. However, construction manager salaries vary according to location, experience level and employers. The highest-paying cities for construction manager jobs include:

  • Guildford: £70,402 per year

  • East London: £63,065 per year

  • London: £62,585 per year

  • Manchester: £56,457 per year

  • Reading: £55,560 per year

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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