What Do Construction Managers Do?

By: on June 26, 2020

The good news for aspiring construction managers is that their career prospects look bright. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of construction managers is projected to grow by 10% till 2028—twice the average for all other occupations.

The bad news is that getting a foothold in the construction industry is becoming increasingly challenging. Newer technologies, alternative project delivery methods, and regulatory changes are expanding the role and responsibilities of construction managers.

But don’t worry! The road to becoming a construction manager is steep, not insurmountable.

In this report, we’ll help you understand the key skills of modern-day construction managers, the changes in the industry that affect the role, and how you can go about building a successful career as a construction manager.

What do construction managers do?

The role of construction managers boils down to delivering high-quality projects that are on time and within budget. They need to manage the expectations of the client (project owner) and ensure the productivity and safety of the team.

To help you gain a holistic picture of what modern-day construction managers do, here is an overview of their common responsibilities based on the three construction stages:

Construction stage
Role & responsibility
  • Work closely with the cost estimator to prepare the estimate, and communicate with the client during the bidding and cost negotiation process.
  • Plan project budget, construction schedule, and scope (such as hiring subcontractors) in consultation with the client.
  • Act as a consultant to the client, collaborate with the architect, and review the initial construction design for cost control.
  • Offer guidance to the client on construction feasibility—addressing legal prerequisites, zoning requirements, building codes, and safety regulations.
  • Collaborate with project managers, engineers, and field crew to prepare project status reports.
  • Communicate with the client regularly on budget status, new requirements, and change orders.
  • Track the work schedule and activities of subcontractors.
  • Track the health and availability of construction equipment and ensure safe working conditions on the site.
  • Collaborate with engineers and other key stakeholders to perform final testing of the construction facility for quality compliance.
  • Hand over the construction to the client with formal training sessions on different facility functions and maintenance.
  • Ensure all payments and contractual documents are complete and up-to-date.

What aspiring construction managers need to know about current industry trends

Construction managers who want to be successful at their jobs need to be aware of the way the construction industry is changing, owing to the rise of alternative construction delivery methods, new technologies, and regulation updates.

Let’s look at each of these factors in greater detail.

Alternative project delivery methods

The rise of newer project delivery models, such as the construction manager at risk (CMAR) have expanded the role of construction managers. They are no longer just involved in the management of the construction process, as in the case of Design-Bid-Build. Rather, their participation begins in the early design stages, offering feedback to clients on the feasibility and cost of the design created by architects.

Aspiring construction managers should not only have knowledge about handling the construction process but also understand design principles to offer effective feedback on construction plans for cost control and constructibility.

Construction technology

Construction managers should be familiar with technological solutions for the construction industry, such as digital takeoff solutions and building information modeling (BIM) software, that speed up processes by enabling collaboration with architects and engineers on construction drawings and documents.

There are several other software tools, such as construction estimating software, construction scheduling tools, and construction management software that construction managers can explore.

Construction regulatory changes

There have been considerable changes in construction laws and regulations over the years regarding the management of construction waste, fair labor standards and minimum wage, and safety compliance requirements.

Since construction managers are responsible for the overall success of the project and need to handle any site emergencies or labor incidents, they need to be abreast of and abide by these regulations.

What aspiring construction managers should do next

The demand for qualified and responsible construction managers is likely to increase in the coming years. Aspiring construction managers must work smart to ensure a successful career.

Here are some final recommendations:

  • Build an understanding of construction plans and drawings: Modern-day construction managers need to be able to interpret construction drawings to advise clients on modifying designs to suit their budget. They should have the ability to decipher information lodged in a construction drawing, such as line types, scale, and dimensions. Taking a course on the topic, such as this free lesson on plumbing tools and drawings, will stand aspiring construction managers in good stead.
  • Get certified: Like any other profession, certification helps to improve your credibility and employability options. There are various certification programs, such as the Certified Professional Constructor Certification, which you can seek out. Here is a guide on the 7 best construction management certifications and programs.
  • Explore emerging technologies: The construction industry is undergoing digital disruption. As an aspiring construction manager, you should keep track of new technologies that help in managing job site safety and optimizing the workforce.

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