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Career Profile: Construction Manager

Career Profile: Construction Manager

Find out if you have what it takes to be a construction manager.

November 22, 2011

A number of 2-year colleges throughout the country offer construction management or construction technology programs. Many individuals also attend training and educational programs sponsored by industry associations, often in collaboration with post-secondary institutions.

Other qualifications. Construction managers should be flexible and work effectively in a fast-paced environment. They should be decisive and work well under pressure, particularly when faced with unexpected occurrences or delays. The ability to coordinate several major activities at once, while analyzing and resolving specific problems, is essential, as is an understanding of engineering, architectural, and other construction drawings. Familiarity with computers and software programs for job costing, online collaboration, scheduling, and estimating also is important.

Good oral and written communication skills also are important, as are leadership skills. Managers must be able to establish a good working relationship with many different people, including owners, other managers, designers, supervisors, and craft workers. The ability to converse fluently in Spanish is increasingly an asset because Spanish is the first language of many workers in the construction industry.

Certification and advancement. There is a growing movement toward certification of construction managers. Although certification is not required to work in the construction industry, it can be valuable because it provides evidence of competence and experience. Both the American Institute of Constructors and the Construction Management Association of America have established voluntary certification programs for construction managers. Requirements combine written examinations with verification of education and professional experience. The American Institute of Constructors awards the Associate Constructor (AC) and Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) designations to candidates who meet its requirements and pass the appropriate construction examinations. The Construction Management Association of America awards the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation to workers who have the required experience and who pass a technical examination. Applicants for this designation also must complete a self-study course that covers the professional role of a construction manager, legal issues, allocation of risk, and other topics related to construction management.

Advancement opportunities for construction managers vary depending upon an individual’s performance and the size and type of company for which they work. Within large firms, managers may eventually become top-level managers or executives. Highly experienced individuals may become independent consultants; some serve as expert witnesses in court or as arbitrators in disputes. Those with the required capital may establish their own construction management services, specialty contracting, or general contracting firm. Employment

Construction managers held 487,000 jobs in 2006. About 57 percent were self-employed, many as owners of general or specialty trade construction firms. Most salaried construction managers were employed in the construction industry, 13 percent by specialty trade contractor businesses—for example, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, and electrical contractors—9 percent in residential building construction; and 9 percent in nonresidential building construction. Others were employed by architectural, engineering, and related services firms and by local governments.


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