Construction management is a lucrative field that’s attracting people from many walks of life, including engineering, field work, and project management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction management is growing—construction management positions are expected to increase 16% between 2012 and 2022. And construction managers can expect to make bank during their tenure. As of now, the lowest paid construction managers still make almost $50,000, whereas the top-ten percent make $144,500+.
But what does it really mean to be a construction manager? While job descriptions can only go so far in portraying the day-today, we took a deeper dive into what it really means to be a construction manager.
There is no “typical day” for a construction manager. One day, you could be meeting with stakeholders, the next you could be at the job site evaluating the source of a project delay. With that in mind, most project managers are expected to spend their days:
Planning, organizing, scheduling, directing, controlling, and finishing their construction firm’s projects
Hiring and managing subcontractors and staff
Preparing and submitting budgets
Maximizing available resources—both physical and in human capital
Working with architects and engineers to optimize the final product
Negotiating contracts and representing the firm
Keeping construction workers safe
Ensuring compliance with local and federal construction laws
Most construction managers work on the typical construction schedule, which means a 9-5 isn’t in the cards—it would be rare if they weren’t up by 6:00AM. Their days are split between meetings, planning, working with documents, and maintaining a presence on the job site. Construction managers must have both the analytic ability to keep their projects in line and also the ability to inspire his workers.
For example, Tony Principi told Bloomberg Business that he regularly visits his business’s construction site because:
I believe that a management presence amidst the actual construction activities shows a level of interest and investment that can be inspiring to both the labor force and junior managers… It keeps me in touch with the pace of work and affords me some working-level perspective.
Effective construction managers have a couple of unifying traits that keep them engaged with their work and passionate about their employers. In a study out of the University of Uyo, construction managers have better success with their job performance if the following skills complement leadership ability:
Effective communication: This trait is ranked as most important for project managers—even above hard skills—because poor communicators were unable to clearly define objectives to their subordinates.
Accessibility: Construction managers must always be on call in case of emergency—and be willing to adapt to unforeseen circumstances, such as potentially dangerous weather.
Intelligence: Construction managers must earn their subordinate’s trust. Being able to show how decisions are made—like why certain materials are used in lieu of others—adds to construction managers’ likeability and efficiency.
Competence: While ranked only the fourth most-important trait for project managers to have, ability to do one’s job is still exceedingly important.
Construction managers should also bear in mind that many traits that apply to the broader project management field also apply to construction management, including pragmatism, empathy, and authority.
While each day is different in the construction management field, construction managers can assume that a majority of their days are filled with making their projects tick. They should also bear in mind that certain people are predisposed for being effective construction managers in the first place—and cultivate the soft skill sets to compliment the hard skills needed to be an effective construction manager in the day to day.