How To Become a Construction Project Manager (With Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 July 2021

Construction project managers are essential for all phases of the building process. They handle the team's concerns and make sure a construction project finishes on time and within budget. Understanding the qualifications and skills needed for success as a construction project manager may open new job opportunities or make you consider a new career in this sector. In this article, we explore how to become a construction project manager, how long it takes to become one and how much a professional in this sector earns.

How to become a construction project manager

There are several ways to be a construction project manager, and you need a solid combination of education and experience. You can follow these steps:

1. Obtain an associate's degree

If you can't find or don't want to study for a bachelor's degree, obtaining an associate's degree may serve you as well. An associate degree in construction management can take two years to finish. After its completion, you may also want to look for a bachelor's degree to complement your studies with a 4-year college program that considerably expands your knowledge and skills.

2. Obtain a bachelor's degree

Construction project managers are usually required to complete a bachelor's degree in a construction-related field, such as construction engineering, building science or construction science. However, they can also complete their engineering, mathematics, architecture, or civil engineering studies if they can't find the previous majors in their area.

Regardless of the bachelor's degree you choose, it's essential that you learn project control and management principles, building standards and codes, design, construction methods and materials, labour relations, safety and public policy. A bachelor's degree takes a minimum of 4 years to complete.

3. Gain construction experience

Next, you can gain construction experience to develop your skills before becoming a construction project manager. This experience can come from internships, apprenticeships or any other real-world training programs that focus on construction and building projects. You can learn the basics, develop your skills and discover if this sector fits you. If you gain enough work experience and project management skills, you could start supervising small projects in the future.

4. Get certified and attain ABLIS licence

Once you complete your apprenticeship, you can become a qualified construction professional. You may want to start looking for higher-level building and construction courses. For instance, you could take a look at the nationally accredited Certificate IV in Building Construction (Building) to level up your skills.

After your education qualifications, you can attain a licence from the ABLIS (Australian Business Licence and Information Service) once you possess two years of practical experience. Complete the application with the details of your training, business operations, professional memberships samples of work, and insurance. You can renew this licence every 12 months.

5. Create and prepare your resume

Include your highest level of education in your newly created resume, along with relevant certifications you may have completed and your work history. Highlight industry-specific achievements, your most essential skills for the job and include keywords that employers may look for when opening new job positions. Keep your resume well-structured, clean, concise and adapt it for every company.

Read more: How To Make a Resume

6. Write a cover letter

A good cover letter can make you stand out from other candidates. Write your cover letter explaining why you're an excellent candidate for the position, including skills and traits. Proofread it twice before sending it and try to convey your message, so your employer understands your suitability for the role, along with the resume's information.

Read more: How To Write a Cover Letter

7. Apply to roles you're qualified for

Research your area's market to apply for positions that you are qualified for and interested in. You may also want to research the company's mission and activities before attending an interview to be better informed about your future role and the organisation's larger systems. If you start supervising small projects or completing entry-level tasks, you may supervise higher projects once you gain enough experience, or you get a promotion inside the company.

How long does it take to become a construction project manager?

Every career path is different among students and professionals. If you choose to study for an associate's degree, you could be working in the construction sector in two years, but it may take you some time to start supervising projects as a manager. If you decide to expand your skills and continue studying for a bachelor's degree, it can take up to six years in total. You can choose to learn just a bachelor's degree if that's your preference, and begin to work in the construction field in four years.

Many other factors can determine how long it takes to become a construction project manager, such as the certificates you want to complete and how much time you work on entry-level tasks before you can supervise construction projects.

What is a construction project manager?

A construction project manager oversees all phases of the building process, and they are aware of deadlines and costs. They usually work closely with architects and engineers to develop and implement plans, establish timelines and calculate the building process' expenses. Here are the primary duties for this role:

  • Oversees details regarding permits and design evaluations.

  • Consults Engineering Professionals, Architects and other construction experts.

  • Coordinates labour resources.

  • Procures and delivers construction equipment and materials.

  • Manages project progress and adapts as required.

  • Performs negotiations with vendors, suppliers and subcontractors.

  • Designs risk mitigation plans.

  • Ensures adherence to legislation and standards of quality.

  • Oversees all project documentation.

  • Negotiates with property owners and subcontractors involved in the construction process.

  • Arranges building inspections with local authorities.

  • Interprets architectural specifications and drawings.

  • Conducts project reviews and collates detailed reports for stakeholders.

How much does a construction project manager earn?

While many construction project managers work full-time, some may work as contracted employees. The typical tenure for this role is less than one year. Salaries for construction project managers depend on factors such as experience, project size, employer, skill level and state. The average base salary for a construction project manager is $111,005 per year.

Required skills to be a construction project manager

Construction project managers can develop a specific skill set in order to be productive at their job. Check the following skills:

Communication and interpersonal skills

As a manager, you can develop the ability to deescalate issues when they appear. Misunderstandings in the workplace are inevitable, so you can practise active listening to understand your subcontractors, local authorities and stakeholders' concerns properly. You can prioritise resolving issues on your team to complete the project on a timely basis. Also, since the role of a construction project manager requires overseeing all project documentation, you can develop strong communication skills to convey relevant information.

Related: 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

Time management skills

As a construction project manager, time is essential. You can coordinate the workflow, set calendars and hold regular meetings to be able to fulfil deadlines and finish the project in time. A building project may have very strict deadlines. Therefore, managers can prioritise the most important tasks and delegate others.

Ability to work under pressure

A typical day of a construction project manager may present challenges. The workload may be large, and sometimes you may work for long hours to meet deadlines and resolve urgent issues. There may be times when you work on weekends or during the holiday season due to an emergency. Be prepared to work under pressure and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout.

Technical skills

Budget calculations, adjustments, keeping accurate records, providing estimations and allocating funds require using budgeting software, spreadsheets or any other technology that helps them be efficient in their job. Construction project managers can also be open to new practices. Modern technology is revolutionising the construction industry, and these professionals can remain knowledgeable about the latest trends and specialised software.

Read more: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Leadership and integrity

A construction project manager can inspire and manage their team by demonstrating dedication to work ethic. You can enforce compliance of safety and quality standards and make informed decisions that respond appropriately to the risks and changes of projects. Managers of successful teams commit to maintaining their values and integrity, and they nurture relationships with team members and clients who follow ethical standards.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing

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