Day in the Life: Construction Manager Career

What Do People Think You Do?

I’m not the engineer who draws the blueprints, and I’m not the foreman at the job site. But I’m the necessary engineer in the middle who coordinates between them.

What Do You Really Do?

In any large construction job, there are several parties who don’t necessarily understand each other well or communicate with each other: the client, the contractors, the design engineers, the material purchasers, the lawyers, and the government regulation offices – and even more. My job is to ensure these parties are in full coordination and cooperation.

A Day In The Life

The client has a project that needs to be built in three months. Our design team has already provided the blueprints, and our construction team has an estimated schedule of 100 days. I inspect the schedule and figure out how to re-organize certain tasks that can be performed simultaneously so that they will be completed on time. Then our finance department informs me that we will have to pay overtime rates for this schedule, which puts us slightly over budget.

I manage to save some money on the project by importing some materials from another country. This requires a government waiver, which I apply for using the proper forms and submit to the legal department. One of the foremen had a family emergency, so I go to the construction site to fill in for him that afternoon. I find out that the drywall is going up before the fire alarm system is installed, so I halt the work and prevent a costly delay.

I also notice that the windows and lights are not compliant with new energy-saving guidelines, and the necessary windows and lights will cost more. I calculate how much the client will save each year in energy costs and then tell him that I can save him thousands of dollars in the first year. He agrees to the change, and our contract lawyers amend the billable cost.

I give the new changes to the design engineers, who modify the as-built blueprints that will go to the client and also the municipal registries. Ultimately, I can look at the project and feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing every detail of construction and where every penny was spent.

What’s The Average Income?


What Education If Any Is Needed?

At a minimum, a construction manager will need a Bachelor’s Degree in a related engineering field, such as Civil, Electrical, or Mechanical Engineering. A Master’s Degree in Management or an MBA is also helpful and competitive for larger projects.

Something Important To Know

It’s the best compromise between design engineering and hands-on construction. It still requires the education and skills of an engineer, but allows site visits and participation in the construction process. It requires fast learning and there are many opportunities for big, costly mistakes, and any of the involved parties might be difficult to work with (especially the client!) so it can be very stressful.

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