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Construction Project Manager Career and Salary Profile

Need for construction project managers is expected to spike over the next decade, with an anticipated increase of 11%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Driving this high demand is an anticipated increase in overall construction for population and business growth, as well as a need to improve existing infrastructure and retrofit buildings for improved energy efficiency.

Constructing new residences, hospitals, schools, restaurants and office buildings, as well as maintaining complex infrastructure like roads, bridges and sewer pipe systems, often require skilled construction project managers to oversee these expansive projects, particularly as processes and technology become more complex, according to the BLS.

What is Construction Project Management?

Construction project managers oversee construction projects from end-to-end, including planning, coordinating, budgeting and supervising. The projects covered by construction project management include residential, public, commercial and industrial buildings. Construction project managers, or general contractors, also oversee road, memorial and bridge construction.

Although construction project management includes project management practices found at corporate organizations, construction project management is typically mission-focused (to build something) and also strives for continuity across all projects. As a result, construction project management must also include a clear understanding of design and construction and interactions across a spectrum of disciplines, including engineering, public works, city planning and architecture.

What Does a Construction Project Manager Do?

Through the process of seeing a construction project to completion, construction project managers perform multiple duties:

  • Create cost estimates and project budgets
  • Establish a project timeline
  • Outline project specifications, scope and performance expectations, including necessary materials and equipment
  • Drive timeline and resource use efficiency
  • Inform clients and stakeholders about project costs and progress
  • Establish and maintain invoicing schedule
  • Partner with the professionals involved in a project, often including construction specialists, architects and engineers
  • Hire and schedule subcontractors
  • Address challenges, delays and problems
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Ensure compliance with legal and safety requirements

Construction Project Manager Salary

The national average for construction project manager salary is $101,000, according to the BLS. Averages for highway, street and bridge construction are slightly higher on average, at $105,460, and on the low end of the range, at $93,930, are foundation, structure and building exterior contractors.

The top paying states for construction project managers are New Jersey, Alaska, New York, Georgia and California. Job seekers are encouraged to do their own independent research as salaries and requirements may vary from state to state.

How to Become a Construction Project Manager

Most construction project managers earn a bachelor’s degree, often with a focus in construction science, construction management, architecture or engineering. Earning a project management certificate helps to hone project management skills, and adds credibility to your resume, which is particularly helpful since most new construction project managers start as assistants to obtain on-the-job experience. The duration of this training depends on the firm and your experience, and can range from just a few months to a few years.

Is Construction Project Management Right For You?

To oversee large-scale projects and partner across disciplines, construction project managers should possess a core set of skills, including:

  • Analytical skills – To plan the project, including its timeline, materials, budget and potential pitfalls.
  • Decision-making skills – To select professionals to subcontract and support the project, and to make timely decisions that keep the project on track.
  • Communication skills – To keep clients and stakeholders informed on the project, and instill confidence in clients, stakeholders and your team of professionals.
  • Customer service skills – To build good relationships with all the people involved in a successful project, ranging from inspectors, owners, clients and the public.
  • Leadership skills – To effectively delegate roles and responsibilities and coach the team to remain on time.
  • Technical skills – To understand contracts, technical drawing and the process itself.
  • Time-management skills – To ensure a critical component of the project is achieved. You must be able to keep individual phases of a project on track to keep the total project on track.
  • Writing skills – To draft budgets, proposals and plans and ensure clients and other stakeholders can clearly understand your project updates.

Construction project management must be very structured to be successful, given the high amount of people and stages involved. Professional and personable leaders will thrive in construction management, a field projected to offer many opportunities in the next several years. Professionals looking to enter or advance in this field should consider earning a degree or certificate in project management to hone their skills and gain new knowledge.

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