No construction project is possible without a construction manager. Construction projects can be as small as a storefront or as large as a massive new development project. However no matter the size, without a construction manager, the project would fall apart.
The growth of the construction industry has put construction managers in demand. The demand for managers is expected to increase 8% over the next ten years – twice the national average.
But what do construction managers do, how do you train to be one, and what skills do you need?
What are Construction Managers?
Construction managers are similar to project management positions in other industries. They supervise the building process from beginning to end.
They work as an intermediary between the client, architect, and builders. This involves planning budgets and following zoning laws and safety regulations. They also supervise the day-to-day building process and the final stage of the project.
Daily Responsibilities of Construction Managers
Construction managers’ work comes in three distinct stages: pre-construction, construction, and post-construction. Each stage requires different skills. One may involve meetings and negotiations, while one may involve supervising workers onsite.
Construction projects usually involve a client presenting a plan. Construction companies then submit bids for the right to take on the project.
During the pre-construction stage, the construction manager will work with the client to help plan the budget, schedule, and pre-construction planning. They may also assist in hiring subcontractors.
Additionally, the construction manager will arrange for the project to be built safely and legally. The proposed project must meet zoning codes, building codes, and site safety regulations. Before it starts, a construction project must be cleared with the city or town it is based in. The budget and estimate must also be approved by the client.
This can often be a long and complex process. It can sometimes take longer than the building stage. A construction manager helps to steer the pre-construction process, so it can be as efficient and clear as possible.
During the construction stage, the manager will usually move to an office on the site. They will work in close collaboration with builders and engineers. Generally, this involves preparing status updates on the project. The manager sends these updates to the client.
Managers talk daily with the client to make sure the project is proceeding as planned. Any changes made to the budget or schedule must go through them. Managers also handle subcontractors, making sure they work on time and within budget. They also oversee safety on the site. They must make sure proper safety rules are followed at all times, and that working conditions meet labor standards.
A failure to follow safety standards may result in injury or death. Even if this is avoided, there can be massive financial consequences for the client. The manager’s job is extremely important during this stage of the process.
During the post-construction stage, the manager will work with engineers on the final testing of the building. They will walk the client through the project and let them know of any maintenance needs.
The manager also may handle contracts and payments for workers and subcontractors. Any construction project should not be considered complete until the manager has signed off on it.
Demand for construction managers is high. Managers can and do come from many different backgrounds. However, there are certain skills that hiring managers will look for in a good manager.
A college degree is not strictly necessary to become a construction manager. However, a degree in civil engineering, architecture, or construction science can help.
More important than the degree itself is the prior experience on a construction site. Education is useful because it provides this experience through fieldwork and internships.
Most construction managers certify themselves through a training program. Getting a certification usually takes around two years. It involves extensive training and onsite experience before a final exam.
The best construction managers will have already worked on a construction site. They will be familiar with common practices and dangers to watch out for.
Many managers have worked as a carpenter or mason, or as a contractor in similar fields. Experience with the practical side of construction work is a valuable skill for a manager. It makes sure they can advocate for both management and labor.
Construction managers are the main point of communication between clients, engineers, and builders. This means they need to have strong interpersonal skills.
They should be able to reach compromises and communicate needs effectively.
Managers should also be analytical thinkers. Effective budgeting and scheduling require knowing how to make a worksite efficient and not complex.
New construction technology is changing the industry. Timecards, schedules, and the bidding process are all moving online. Plans and project details are moving to cloud-based software that allows managers, clients, and engineers to access them from anywhere.
Knowing how to use this technology is essential for construction managers. This is especially true in a post-pandemic world where more work is done remotely. Managers may not be on the building site as much as they once were, so being virtually connected to the site is an important skill.
Technology for Construction Managers
Decades ago, the most advanced technology on a building site was heavy machinery. Now, construction sites are increasingly connected, using software to coordinate schedules, budgets, and more. Visit our products page to learn how Bangert can help you in your next construction project!