What is Construction Management?

Construction managers are professionals who plan, direct, and oversee the construction of buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures.  Because of the technical aspects of construction and the advanced technology being used to manage projects, many construction managers enter the building industry with a college degree in construction management or a related field.  Some of the latest innovations in construction include the use of 3-D models, aerial drones, and virtual reality.  To do their jobs effectively, construction managers must be proficient in mathematics (arithmetic, algebra and geometry), written and oral communications, and computers and software.

One way to explain the role of a construction manager to compare a building project to a classical music concert.  In a concert, the score is created by a composer, played by musicians, and directed by a conductor.  The conductor does not write one bar or play a single instrument, but they do direct each musician to play the appropriate notes at the correct time to turn the composer’s vision into a symphony.  Similarly, for a construction project, the building is designed by an architect, built by tradespeople, and organized by a construction manager.  The construction manager does not determine what the building will look like or what it is made of, nor do they swing a hammer or drive a bulldozer, but they do coordinate all the sub-contractors and their employees to use the appropriate tools and equipment to install the correct materials in the right sequence in order to erect the building.

On a building project, a construction company is generally hired by a property owner (such as a developer, government agency, university, or corporation) to construct a building designed by an architect.  The construction company will usually hire specialty contractors (electricians, carpenters, steel workers, equipment operators, etc.) to directly perform the work.  Construction managers work for construction companies, owners, specialty contractors and architects.

In a construction company, construction managers may work in a number of different roles, including as an estimator, scheduler, project manager and superintendent.  Some of the specific responsibilities for each of these roles are shown below:

Estimator

  • Works in an office setting
  • Using the construction drawings created by the architect, determines the required quantities of materials such as the number of light fixtures, the area of exterior brick wall, the volume of concrete and the weight of steel columns and beams.
  • Based on these quantities, calculates the costs for material, time, labor, and equipment for the project
  • Uses estimating software to calculate quantities and costs

Scheduler

  • Works in an office setting
  • Determines the duration of each construction activity
  • Using knowledge of the construction process and the flow of work, sequences the work in the most efficient manner to optimize the duration of the construction project.
  • May develop schedules for many smaller projects or one big project
  • Uses scheduling software to show durations, relationships, and logic to derive the critical path for the schedule

Project Manager

  • May work in an office setting or on the job site
  • Coordinates and collaborates with architects, clients, engineers, sub-contractors
  • Plans construction operations
  • Establishes the budget and tracks actual costs to compare with the projected costs
  • Hires subcontractors
  • Evaluates progress and prepares detailed reports
  • Uses project management software to coordinate the project

Superintendent

  • Works on the construction site
  • Oversees the day-to-day operations of the project
  • Supervises and coordinates subcontractors
  • Controls the short-term schedule and manages the sequence of work
  • Ensures work meets quality standards
  • Uses project management software to update construction status 

According to U.S. News and World Report, Construction Managers have a median salary of $87,400 while those in the top 25% earn over $117,000.

Wentworth CM students who graduated in 2017 had an average starting salary of between $60,000 and $65,000.

For more information about construction management as a career visit https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/construction-manager

For more information about our Construction Management program download Wentworth’s free Future Construction Managers Game App from the Apple App store, Google Play, or Amazon.