Construction Manager Jobs and Careers
Construction is an increasingly complex industry, employing managers across a wide range of disciplines.
Despite a worldwide economic slow down in construction, prospects remain promising, as the development of city and town infrastructure continues to be strong.
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Construction management has several sub-disciplines: project manager, general contractor, general construction manager, executive construction manager and construction superintendent to name a few.
In turn, these positions vary as much as the projects that create the roles. A construction manager can be self-employed or employed by a contracting company.
Typical employers include:
- Construction companies.
- Civil engineering contractors.
- Building and project management companies.
- Local authorities.
- Government agencies.
- Housing associations.
- Health authorities.
- The service industries.
Key Skills Required
Managers in the construction industry need to be very versatile, as their role will encompass many different areas of management, as well as their chosen technical area of construction (e.g. engineering), which forms the basis of their site knowledge. To gain good positions in this line of employment, you need to have the following skills, knowledge and experience.
- Extensive technical knowledge in your lead specialist area.
- Solid business management and administration skills.
- Understanding of commercial principles and goals in construction projects, to ensure project is finished within deadlines and budget.
- Ability to budget and optimise costs, with associated up-to-date knowledge of processes and technologies
- Ability to work and liaise with professionals from different disciplines and backgrounds, including architects, engineers, surveyors, regulatory agency staff and others.
- Knowledge of how to manage, develop and track changes in the construction schedules and plans.
- Leadership skills required for motivating and leading the construction teams, coupled with excellent communication skills.
- Skills for analysing data required for site planning, and planning the integration of mechanical, electrical and structural designs.
- Hiring experience to oversee the selection, hiring and management of direct construction employees and specialist subcontractors.
- Knowledge to assess construction plans and drawings.
- CAD skills to produce images, construction graphics, etc.
- Familiarity with obtaining licences and permits as required, and ensuring regulations are adhered to.
- Supervising the delivery and use of equipment, materials and tools.
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Construction and project management, design and build management, facilities management, repairs and maintenance, and building services management and inspection. Within these areas of work, they typically undertake careers as construction managers, planning managers, site engineers or project managers.
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Construction Manager, Site Manager or General Contractor
These managers often bid for a project on behalf of their company, having worked closely with cost estimators. If they secure the tender, the managers are involved in preparing the site before construction starts, while meeting architects, engineers and other project leaders. Materials and equipment need to be ordered, delivered and stored in advance. Safety needs to be ensured at the site and in all subsequent work. The managers use software applications dedicated to construction management in order to oversee several projects at once. Forward planning is fundamental to this role, along with solid troubleshooting skills. Overall organisational abilities and the ability to stay on top of budgets are critical.
These managers may work on many kinds of project, but most specialise in a size and type of building project. The divisions usually fall between residential, commercial and public projects, and buildings and infrastructure (such as water systems, industrial sites, bridges, etc).
There are numerous degree courses that can lead to a career as a construction manager. These include construction engineering management, building technology, building engineering and others. Topics covered include everything from construction design and technology to contract law, cross accounting to economics. Experience through placements or as an assistant or technician is essential before gaining employment.
The Project Manager has a higher level of responsibility for the financial control, management, planning and co-ordination of the construction project. Representing their clients' interests, they ensure that all requirements are met with timely completion within budget. Their presence may be required from design stage to completion. Project managers organise all professionals working on the project, ensuring quality standards are upheld through compliance and testing. They use dedicated project management software to oversee all aspects, including the financial considerations of accounting, costing and billing.
Degree courses in general construction subjects often lead to project management careers, as well as degrees that have joint majors in management and engineering studies or building services engineering.
Professional membership is through the Association of Project Management (APM). See www.apm.org.uk
Project Planner / Project Officer
The project planner usually works for contractors and construction firms. They work on the specifics of construction project management, developing the detailed plans that the manager relies on and which inform decisions with the estimators and buyers. The planner works with the manager to ensure that the plans remain implemented throughout the project.
Ultimately, the planner's role is to optimise the use of people and machinery, working within the planning team to select methods, approaches and materials. They use their understanding and knowledge of construction processes to allocate the project time. Ongoing monitoring is important to ensure that the plans are adhered to. Contingency planning is therefore an important aspect of their work, being activated when conditions or hold-ups jeopardise the schedule.
The project planner does not need to have a degree, although it is advantageous. Subjects usually include project management, construction management, site management or the built environment, to include management, valuation, building technology and other linked subjects. Many people enter the profession with an NHD or NVQ Level 3 or 4.
Professional membership is through the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
Site Manager or Agent
The Site Manager is responsible for the day-to-day running of the building site. This involves liaising with the architects, engineers, surveyors, designers, subcontractors and other professionals. They are involved in the planning process, producing regular progress reports, contributing to cost planning, checking adherence to plans and managing relations with the staff. As well as guaranteeing smooth running of the site through workflow and management of labour, the manager has oversight for the quality of the work completed as well as health and safety on site. The role also includes dealing with problems that arise, such as deliveries not arriving on time, staff problems and other issues that delay the project.
Most site managers on bigger projects have an HND or HNC, or a degree in Building Studies, Construction Management or Building Technology.
Professional membership is through the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
Building technicians assist the construction managers and builders by helping to interpret and carry out the building directions. They ensure adherence to building codes, specifications and regulations, through proper use of methods and materials. The role includes calculating costs and helping to estimate the completion times involved in the work. They assist the managers in arranging ongoing supplies of material and equipment, recording progress for builders and architects, negotiating with subcontractors,
Building Technicians often have a BTEC, HNC or HND in Construction. It's also possible to enter this job with an apprenticeship in a construction management subject.
Chartered Association of Building Engineers www.cbuilde.com/home/
Chartered Institute of Building www.ciob.org
Chartered Institute of Housing www.cih.org