Construction project managers are responsible for planning and coordinating the activities involved in a construction job. They typically work for general contracting companies where they develop budgets, schedules, and other devices used to complete a project. Project managers may work on buildings, roads, or residential projects. Because of the complexity of managing these types of projects, the construction project manager must be willing to continuously improve his skills in order to build a successful career.
The most critical component to a successful project management career is a thorough knowledge of construction materials and methods. The project manager is expected to write contracts, evaluate scopes, and develop estimates and schedules. All of these tasks can be performed more effectively by those who understand how the construction process works.
Those who are new to the industry should look for books and courses to learn about things like mechanical systems, concrete installation, and masonry. Project managers with a degree in engineering or construction will understand basic building concepts, but may lack real world experience. All candidates will benefit from internships in the field, particularly working on a jobsite for a general contractor or subcontractor. This can teach the project manager what kind of problems to expect and how different activities can impact one another.
Construction managers should work to build strong computer skills. Basic word processing and spreadsheet programs are widely used in the industry so candidates should continuously work to improve their proficiency. Many contracting companies rely on construction management software such as Timberline, Prolog, or Primavera. By taking the time to learn one of these programs, you will greatly improve your chances of landing a job in the industry. Finally, one should gain experience with scheduling software. Programs like Microsoft Project and Primavera Suretrak are frequently used to create construction schedules. These programs are not always intuitive and can be difficult to learn. Candidates with scheduling experience are highly sought within the industry, and you will find it much easier to schedule and manage your projects with this software.
To find a job or move up in the field, some candidates pursue some type of professional licensing. Those with an engineering degree can pursue a Professional Engineer (PE) license with the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Project managers interested in the green building movement may want to pursue LEED accreditation with the US Green Building Council. Others may wish to work towards project management certification through the Construction Management Association of America. Any of these programs can help build your skills and improve your job prospects.