3 Facts You Should Know About Construction Management Careers
A lot goes into building today's major structures. And the bigger and more complex a project, the greater the need is for professionals who have the expertise to oversee and coordinate the entire process. That's why the market for qualified construction managers is often very strong. Good opportunities can be found all over America.
After all, the nation's construction industry is huge. In December 2014 alone, spending on construction in the U.S. totaled more than $982 billion.* And that was just for one month. So, as you explore what becoming a construction manager might mean for your future, keep that number in mind as well as these three facts:
1. Construction Managers Are Often Different Than General Contractors
In some cases, it can be challenging to tell construction managers and general contractors apart. Depending on the project, they often share many similar responsibilities. But they generally do have some important differences. For example:
- A construction manager is frequently involved from the very beginning of a project (including the design and planning stages) all the way through to completion. In contrast, a general contractor is usually only brought in when it's time to begin the construction phase.
- General contracting firms tend to employ some of their own full-time tradespeople in addition to hiring a few outside subcontractors, whereas construction management firms generally keep few, if any, tradespeople on staff. Instead, construction managers mostly hire and supervise independent contractors as needed for specific project phases.
- Construction managers often have more comprehensive expertise when it comes to aspects like land acquisition, bid solicitation, cost and quality control, cash flow, scheduling, contract administration, and risk management.
- A good construction manager can frequently save the owner of a project more time and money than would be achieved by using a general contractor to oversee everything.
- General contractors tend to be self-employed and operate their own businesses. Construction managers, on the other hand, are often employed by construction management firms, architectural or engineering firms, or large companies with long-term plans for physical expansion or upgrades.
2. The Salary Potential Is Extraordinary
An American construction manager can make a great living. In fact, the average salary for professionals in this field was $92,700 in 2013. And the top-earning construction managers made over $146,340.** Pay is often highest for formally educated people who go on to earn voluntary certification such as the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation awarded by the Construction Management Association of America.
3. Demand Is High and Growing
Many factors are driving the growth of the construction management field. For instance, the U.S. population is steadily expanding. The economy is also on a generally upward trajectory. And that results in the need for new or upgraded buildings, industrial facilities, and public projects. But those things alone do not account for all of the high demand.
Other factors at play include the increasing complexity of construction technology and building processes as well as the fact that a lot of America's physical infrastructure is very old and in need of major improvements. That's why projections indicate that the employment of construction managers in America could increase by 16 percent between 2012 and 2022.***
*United States Census Bureau, website last visited on February 13, 2015.
** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on February 13, 2015.
***Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, website last visited on February 13, 2015.