Guide To Majors - Business

Construction Management Major

Table of Contents

What Is Construction Management?

A construction manager is responsible for the physical construction of a structure (or a portion of it, as in remodeling or renovations) and works on behalf of the owner or developer. The construction manager can be a staff member, an employee of a management company, or an individual consultant, like almost half of the construction managers in the U.S.

Construction Management

If you're interested in becoming a construction manager, you will find yourself deeply involved in each project, from concept to ribbon-cutting. You'll oversee details regarding the workforce, materials, equipment, and safety issues for workers and the surrounding community. This is done by dividing site activities into logical steps during the planning stage, and monitoring each step along the way to ensure the project meets deadline and budget requirements. Your job may involve working directly with the architect or engineer on design specifications. It's crucial that you understand both the big picture and the small details that go into making it a reality.

To enter the field, you will need to have a considerable amount of practical experience -- which you can gain through apprenticeship and on-the-job training -- combined with a business degree in construction management. At work you'll need to provide accurate timelines and cost estimates, and use specialized industry software.

You'll need a working knowledge of every aspect of the job, from excavation to finishing -- despite the fact that you may not do the actual manual labor. And you could be on call 24 hours a day to handle emergencies, deal with weather problems, or work around unforeseen delays. You may also be called upon to travel and spend long periods of time at a site, depending on the size and scope of your work.

Another responsibility you'll have is obtaining necessary permits and licenses and, depending upon the contractual arrangements, you'll direct or monitor compliance with building and safety codes and other regulations. You may have several subordinates, such as assistant managers or superintendents, field engineers, or crew supervisors.

Career Education in Construction Management

A college degree in construction management is important because it provides the necessary knowledge and skills that work experience alone can't provide. Employers increasingly seek candidates who combine hands-on work experience with a bachelor's or master's degree in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering.

Professionals in the industry are increasingly turning to online college courses in construction management while they work, in order to gain hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge at the same time. Your studies can begin with a focus on specific trade areas such as building code enforcement, power technology, or electrical work. Online degree programs can include courses in project control and development, site planning, design, construction methods, construction materials, value analysis, cost estimating, scheduling, contract administration, accounting, business and financial management, building codes and standards, inspection procedures, engineering and architectural sciences, mathematics, statistics and information technology.

Training in computers and software programs for job costing, scheduling, and estimating also is important in order to keep up with industry innovations and standards. Good oral and written communication skills are important, as are leadership skills. As a manager, you must be able to establish a good working relationship with many different people, including clients, other managers, designers, supervisors and tradesmen.

What Can You Do With a College Major in Construction Management?

More than half of all construction managers (57 percent) were self-employed in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The rest work for specialty trade contractors including plumbing, heating and air-conditioning and electrical contractors; general building contractors; engineering, architectural, and construction management services firms; local governments; educational institutions; and real estate developers. Most people working in construction management have substantial prior experience as tradesmen -- carpenters, masons, plumbers, or electricians. They may also come from a background as construction supervisors or owners of independent specialty contracting firms, overseeing workers in one or more construction trades.

The most important skills for a construction manager are flexibility and the ability to work effectively in a fast-paced environment. You should be decisive and work well under pressure, particularly when there are unexpected occurrences or delays. The ability to coordinate several major activities at once, while analyzing and resolving specific problems, is essential, as is an understanding of engineering, architectural, and other construction drawings.

Construction Management Jobs

Good employment opportunities for construction managers are expected through 2022, with the best prospects for those who combine construction work experience with a bachelor's degree in a construction-related field. The demand for highly qualified managers is increasing, because the construction process has been complicated by sophisticated technology and the proliferation of laws setting standards for buildings and construction materials, worker safety, energy efficiency, and environmental protection. Other factors expected to add to industry growth include advances in building materials and construction methods; the need to replace infrastructure; and the growing number of multipurpose buildings, electronically operated "smart" buildings, and energy-efficient structures.

Advancement opportunities as a construction manager vary, depending on your performance and the size and type of your company. Within large firms, you may move into upper-level management or executive positions. Highly experienced individuals may become independent consultants or may establish their own construction management services, specialty contracting, or general contracting firm.

Certification and Licensure

Certification is not required to work in the construction industry, but voluntary certification is valuable because it provides evidence of competence and experience.

Both the American Institute of Constructors (AIC) and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) have established voluntary certification programs for construction management professionals. Requirements combine written examinations with verification of professional experience.

AIC awards the Associate Constructor (AC) and Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) designations.

CMAA awards the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation to practitioners who meet the professional requirements, pass a technical examination, and complete a self-study course that covers a broad range of topics central to construction management.

Return to the top


"Construction Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm#tab-1

"11-9021 Construction Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119021.htm

Pursue your Construction Management Major today…

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 12 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
  • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
  • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
  • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
  • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses