Construction Managers

Significant Points

* About 61 percent of construction managers are self-employed.
* Jobseekers who combine construction work experience with a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field should enjoy the best prospects.
* Certification, although not required, is increasingly important for construction managers.

Nature of the Work

Construction managers plan, direct, coordinate, and budget a wide variety of construction projects, including the building of all types of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants, and schools and hospitals. Construction managers may supervise an entire project or just part of one. They schedule and coordinate all design and construction processes, including the selection, hiring, and oversight of specialty trade contractors, such as carpentry, plumbing, or electrical, but they usually do not do any actual construction of the structure.

Construction managers are salaried or self-employed managers who oversee construction supervisors and personnel. They are often called project managers, constructors, construction superintendents, project engineers, construction supervisors, or general contractors. Construction managers may be owners or salaried employees of a construction management or contracting firm, or they may work under contract or as a salaried employee of the property owner, developer, or contracting firm managing the construction project.

These managers coordinate and supervise the construction process from the conceptual development stage through final construction, making sure that the project gets completed on time and within budget. They often work with owners, engineers, architects, and others who are involved in the process. Given the designs for buildings, roads, bridges, or other projects, construction managers supervise the planning, scheduling, and implementation of those designs.

Large construction projects, such as an office building or an industrial complex, are often too complicated for one person to manage. Accordingly, these projects are divided into various segments: site preparation, including clearing and excavation of the land, installing sewage systems, and landscaping and road construction; building construction, including laying foundations and erecting the structural framework, floors, walls, and roofs; and building systems, including protecting against fire and installing electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning, and heating systems. Construction managers may be in charge of one or several of these activities.

Construction managers determine the best way to get materials to the building site and the most cost-effective plan and schedule for completing the project. They divide all required construction site activities into logical steps, estimating and budgeting the time required to meet established deadlines. Doing this may require sophisticated scheduling and cost-estimating techniques using computers with specialized software.

Construction managers also manage the selection of general contractors and trade contractors to complete specific phases of the project—which could include everything from structural metalworking and plumbing, to painting, to installing electricity and carpeting. Construction managers determine the labor requirements of the project and, in some cases, supervise or monitor the hiring and dismissal of workers. They oversee the performance of all trade contractors and are responsible for ensuring that all work is completed on schedule.

Construction managers direct and monitor the progress of construction activities, occasionally through construction supervisors or other construction managers. They are responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and licenses and, depending upon the contractual arrangements, for directing or monitoring compliance with building and safety codes, other regulations, and requirements set by the project’s insurers. They also oversee the delivery and use of materials, tools, and equipment; worker safety and productivity; and the quality of the construction.

Work Environment

Working out of a main office or out of a field office at the construction site, construction managers monitor the overall construction project. Decisions regarding daily construction activities generally are made at the jobsite. Managers might travel considerably when the construction site is not close to their main office or when they are responsible for activities at two or more sites. Management of overseas construction projects usually entails temporary residence in the country in which the project is being carried out.

Often on call 24 hours a day, construction managers deal with delays, such as the effects of bad weather, or emergencies at the jobsite. More than one-third worked a standard 40-hour week in 2008, and some construction projects continue around the clock. Construction managers may need to work this type of schedule for days or weeks to meet special project deadlines, especially if there are delays.

Although the work usually is not inherently dangerous, injuries can occur and construction managers must be careful while performing onsite services.

Source: bls.gov, rbacc.co.uk, cparchitects.com, nhdemolition.com

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