The Ultimate Guide to Construction Management Degrees and Careers

If you are interested in a job in construction, you might consider getting a degree in construction management. Having a degree in construction management shows that you have a certain degree of knowledge about various aspects of construction, and not just one. The education that you get with a construction management degree indicates a certain degree of proficiency not only as a planner and builder, but also as someone who can manage people and maybe even project costs. If you want a construction career that pays reasonably well, it is a good idea to get a degree; it will really help your career. If you are concerned about college costs, it is usually possible to find college grants and scholarships that can help you pay the expenses associated with getting a college degree in construction management.

What Does a Construction Manager Do?

Construction managers are in charge of projects, or portions of projects, that are being built. These professionals are in charge of planning, directing, coordinating and even overseeing the budget of various projects. These projects can include smaller projects, such as home building and remodeling, or they can consist of larger projects, such as office buildings and other large structures. Constructor managers might also be involved with building roads and bridges, as well as sewage systems.

Construction managers also often hire and oversee contractors to do specialty work, such as carpentry, electrical, welding and plumbing. It is the job of the construction manager to coordinate with contractors, suppliers and others to make sure that the project is completed to specifications, and completed on time. Other names for a construction manager can include:

  • Constructor
  • Project manager
  • Construction supervisor
  • Construction superintendent
  • General contractor
  • Project engineer

In most cases, if you want to become a construction manager, it is important that you get some sort of a degree, since the requirements related to hiring and budgeting — and even design — require knowledge that you may not be able to get as a worker on a construction team.

Available Construction Management Degrees

There are a number of different degrees available in the general field of construction management. Different degrees allow you to do different jobs. Here are some of the options you have when getting an education in construction management:

  • Associate of Science in Construction Management: An associate’s degree can be helpful as you head into a construction career. However, you might not be able to get the top jobs with an associate’s degree. Many construction companies require some experience on top of an associate’s degree before you can become a manager. But it is often easier to become a construction manager with an associate’s degree than it is to work your way up with no degree and only experience.
  • Bachelor of Science in Construction Management: Many colleges and universities offer a four year degree in construction management. You will go through a full course of training related to different aspects of construction, as well as management and project design. In many cases, an internship, to help you gain some experience is part of obtaining your bachelor degree. When you are done with your B.S., you are usually able to begin working as a project manner, although you might begin on a smaller project to start.
  • Master of Science in Construction Management: It is possible to get a M.S. in construction management, or just to get a graduate certificate. There are a few colleges and universities that offer these degrees. When you have a graduate certificate, or a M.S. degree, you receive a little more education in a variety of disciplines related to construction. By the time you receive your M.S. or your graduate certificate, you should have had some sort of experience and some practical training, either through an internship or as a construction worker. In some cases, it is possible to obtain a graduate certificate (but not a M.S.) by showing your long experience in construction.
  • Doctor of Science in Construction Management: So far, there are not very many schools at all that offer this degree. A doctoral degree in construction management is considered somewhat superfluous, since many construction managers are quite capable of doing the job with a bachelor or master degree.

These are not the only degrees that you can get in order to become a construction manager. You can also get a degree in construction science, building science, and civil engineering. For the most part, you can become a construction manager with a bachelors plus some experience (often gained through an internship). Carefully consider the degree you are most interested in, and then major in the area that is of greatest interest to you.

Career Prospects in Construction Management

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that construction management will grow by 17% by 2018. Even though there are sometimes lulls in the construction industry, it is important to note that things will always need to be built. There are a number of opportunities to build, from commercial real estate, like retail outlets and office buildings, to public works projects, like roads and water treatment, to hospitals and housing developments.

Many construction managers are actually self employed. They can be hired as contractors by large firms or by cities. Other construction management professionals are hired as general contractors by individuals who want to build homes or do some remodeling. When you are self employed, you can decide what projects you want to take on. About 61% of construction managers are self employed.

The other 39% of construction managers are employed by someone else, on salary. This is often the case in large firms. Architect firms or construction companies may have different project managers to help them stay on top of multiple projects at once. You can become a salaried employee, with benefits and somewhat regular work hours. However, it is important to realize that even salaried construction managers rarely work in an office at a building. Often, there is an office or a trailer at the construction site that is used as a base of operations. It is important, too, to be flexible in your hours, since some projects may require longer hours toward the end, or may require working evenings and weekends.

Being a construction manager can be a good job, with reasonable prospects for the future. If you want a better chance at become a construction manager, it can help to get a college degree.