How to Become a Construction Manager

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

construction manager with blueprint

Within the building industry, construction managers serve as the epitome of responsibility and leadership on-site. They are individuals that motivate others, inspire, and can present new and exciting ideas that promote productivity on-site.

Becoming a construction manager can be a rewarding experience for individuals that are passionate about building, taking on a leadership role alongside other hard-working employees, and have innovative ideas to share.

If you are interested in pursuing this route, read on to learn all of the important information that will help you to achieve this goal, including the typical responsibilities of a construction manager, educational requirements, salary expectations, and how you can continue developing your career.

1. Research the Profession

Researching what specific roles you will be required to take on in your position as a construction manager is the first step to following your intended career path. Through research, you can gain useful insight into what skills and qualifications you will need to become successful within your profession.

Here is a brief, but comprehensive, overview of the role:

Job Description

As indicated per the ‘manager’ aspect of the position, becoming a construction manager entails the acceptance of business and leadership responsibilities, as well as:

  • Hiring and supervising other workers on each building site
  • Estimating project costs
  • Interacting with other engineers, architects, and surveyors regarding construction plans
  • Managing schedules based on project requirements
  • Ensuring that clients receive regular progress reports
  • Supervising adherence to safety codes on-site

Essential Skills and Qualities

There are a number of skills and qualities someone interested in becoming a certified contractor for construction management should possess, including:

Working Hours and Conditions

Construction managers typically work 39+ hours per week Monday to Friday, but you will not always have fixed hours. This position often requires flexibility, and you may be expected to work longer, particularly if you are nearing a deadline. Also, you may have to be on-call 24 hours a day. But, this may be negotiable on a client-by-client basis if you have particular concerns.

Working conditions can vary, depending on your interest in supervising on-site. Although overseeing projects is one part of the job, you may also often be working in an office setting. You will need to travel between your office and the construction sites. Depending on your flexibility and the client, there may also be opportunities for you to travel abroad.

Salary Prospects

A starting salary for a construction manager averages at about £30,000. Over a decade, as you accumulate more experience within the industry, this can rise to £50,000—though salaries for senior construction managers can reach as high as £70,000.

The median income for construction managers in the UK is about £40,000.

2. Get the Qualifications

Once you have gained a fuller understanding of what the profession entails, the next step to following your ambition is to secure your qualifications. If you are looking to go back to school to earn a degree in a relevant field, be sure to search for schools that offer courses that focus on engineering, building studies, and management skills.

The minimum degree requirement to become a construction manager in the United States is typically a Bachelors degree in either construction management, architecture, building studies, engineering, or another related field.

In the UK, individuals can pursue a HNC or HND diploma in one of the following areas: building studies, surveying and civil engineering, construction engineering, or construction management. Then, students can move onto university to engage in similar subject studies. University is a common route through which individuals may eventually be able to step into their desired construction management career.

Following the educational requirements detailed above, to become a successful construction manager, you will want to pursue a contractors license. This will help you in building your credibility as well as providing necessary and useful training that will help you sharpen a variety of skills. It can also serve as an invaluable resource as you work to become a trusted professional in your field.

Additionally, though it is certainly the less common route and does not provide the level of certainty, a HNC/HND may suffice if you instead engage in an apprenticeship. By starting at the bottom, you may be able to work your way up the hierarchy. First-hand experience on these sites, after all, is essential, and you may be able to build valuable connections that will aid you regardless of whatever formal education you are lacking.

3. Land Your First Job

The next step on your agenda, after you have achieved the necessary qualifications and experience, is finding a job.

As a construction manager, you will likely work for either a construction company or a specialist contractor. Other job opportunities may include working for local building contractors, utility companies, larger organisations and retailers, as well as local and central government departments.

Many within the industry are confident that the number of job opportunities for construction managers is on the rise as issues revolving around climate change persist. There already has been increased interest and need for sustainable development, as well as materials and building methods that focus on carbon reduction.

Get Experience

Gaining experience as an apprentice or construction worker on project sites is paramount to rising higher on the ladder to a management position. First-hand experience and knowledge of construction site operations is non-negotiable if you want to truly prove your ability to be successful as a manager. The more experience you can achieve throughout your studies, the more benefits you will observe when you can apply your learned skills in your career.

Furthermore, you will likely need to have some relevant experience under your belt to work towards achieving your contracting license. Becoming certified in construction management requires the hard work to prove that you deserve it.

4. Develop Your Career

By the time you have reached the position of a construction manager on project sites, you will have already evidently experienced significant development. A manager is not exactly a position you can snag by sitting around at the bottom of the ladder, so reaching this point is in itself a major call for celebration. You have achieved much to get here.

However, as you serve a larger number of clients, earn their trust as a reliable project manager, and progress more within the industry, there are certain career developments you may be able to pursue. For example, once you gain experience as a manager, you may be able to establish yourself as an expert in contract management or consultancy. With the right level of ambition, you could even rise to the position of a company director.

In addition, there are a number of relevant opportunities you could progress into within the realms of teaching and research, as well as health and safety inspection, and support services.

Self-employment may also be possible on a consultancy basis if that is a career route that more closely matches your interests.

Have you ever considered working as a construction manager? Join the conversation!