How to become a Construction Manager

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Construction Manager? What Construction Managers do? Degrees for Construction Managers, Steps to become Construction Manager and much more.

How to Become a Construction Manager

Over 1.4 million people in the U.S. work in the construction industry. This number is set to rise as the demand for new builds and renovations increases.

Construction managers play a key role in the efficiency and safety of any worksite. If it’s something you’re interested in, becoming a certified construction manager will be well worth it. 

But what is a construction manager, and what skills do you need? How much can you expect to make, and what type of degree will help you get a job?

Let’s take a look at what a construction manager is, how you can become one, the type of degree you will need, and how much money you can make in this job.

What is a construction manager?

Construction managers oversee commercial and residential building construction projects.

They're responsible for the building project from the beginning of development to the finished product. 

They hire and supervise workers, estimate project costs, determine schedules, and report progress.

The construction project manager makes sure the site is safe, and that building codes are met.

They may need to work with engineers, architects, electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, and other building specialists. 

​​And they work closely with the customer during the construction phase. They give the customer a clear cost breakdown and make sure they understand the construction process.

The construction manager spends most of their time on-site.

What does a Construction Manager do ?

Construction managers coordinate and supervise a wide range of projects.

For example, every residential and commercial building project needs a project manager.

Construction managers also work on industrial projects such as roads, bridges, power plants, schools, and hospitals.

They schedule projects and create a timeline for completion. The construction manager controls the scope of work and releases funds throughout the course of the building project.

If they need to hire a subcontractor, they use their contacts to find a suitable candidate.

They work hard to avoid delays, changes, disputes, and cost overruns. A construction manager needs to be flexible in contracting and procurement, and they make sure the project meets the building specifications.

They may need to explain technical jargon and update clients throughout the process.

What skills do you need to be a construction manager?

If you want to work as a construction manager, you'll need a high school diploma or equivalent. Some construction managers may be able to get a job with an associate degree and significant building experience. 

However, most construction managers have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as construction, management, or civil engineering. Depending on where you want to work, you may need a license.

To be a successful construction manager, you’ll need excellent communication skills. You’ll be dealing with tradespeople, government, suppliers, and clients, and you’ll need to maintain these positive relationships.

You’ll need to have leadership skills and be adaptable when things change. And you’ll need to know the state building laws and regulations. 

Construction managers need business skills and math skills. You’ll need to set budgets, read blueprints, and negotiate with suppliers.

How to become a construction manager

If you want to become a certified construction manager, here are the steps you can take.


Steps for becoming a Construction Manager


Get A Bachelor’s Degree

Experience is important if you want to work in the construction industry. But most employers want a candidate who holds a bachelor’s degree

Consider studying for a degree in construction management, building science, or civil engineering.


Get An Internship

An internship not only provides experience in the field, but it also may help with landing employment after graduation. Internships may offer insight into both the labor and managerial aspects of the industry.


Gain Experience

To become a certified construction manager, you’ll need to have construction experience. Students often work as management assistants after getting a bachelor’s degree.

Work experience gives you first-hand knowledge of site operations and construction methods. 
Construction management firms may provide training to prepare you for project management opportunities.


Get Certified

To get a construction manager certification, you’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree. 

You’ll also need to meet work experience requirements, including gaining four years of practical experience with a construction company. 

Once you’ve met these requirements, you can sit the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) test.

You can then join a construction management association.


Pursue Master’s Degree

Construction managers who want to advance in their careers may want to complete a master's degree in construction management. 

Graduate-level studies focus on practical applications of key management principles. 

Program outlines may include construction materials, construction methods, health and safety policies, management practices, and labor relations.

Construction manager degree types

Let's take a look at the different degree levels for those who want to pursue a career in construction management.

Construction Manager Salaries

Construction Manager

Construction Manager Degree Levels


The Associate in Science (AS) in Construction Management is a two-year college degree.

Many community colleges offer this degree. It provides instruction in management skills and covers technical and occupational subjects. For example, it focuses on construction planning, design, and occupational health and safety.

Here’s what you can expect to learn about when earning an associate degree:

Structural Design
  • Beams

  • Tension Members

  • Compression Members

  • Ensure safety

  • Ensure stability

  • Understand Concrete Structure

Construction Planning & Scheduling
  • Creating the Logic Diagram

  • Determining Activity Durations

  • Money and Network Scheduling

  • Network schedules

  • Construction projects

  • Planning of each activity

Sustainable Construction Practices
  • Sustainable Construction Methods

  • Sustainability and the Building Industry

  • Using Renewable Energy Sources

  • Proper planning

  • Environmental effects

  • Sustainable Design


The Bachelor in Construction Management degree refines your skills in written and verbal communication, technical construction fundamentals, mathematics, business, and law.

It prepares you for a career as a construction leader.

Here are some of the subjects the degree may cover:

Design and construction technologies
  • Statistics of Architectural Structures

  • Building Systems

  • Materials: New and Old

  • Understand contemporary building technology

  • Rich historical and cultural

  • Evolution of technique

Quality assurance
  • Construction Equipment

  • Statistical Methods

  • Modern Construction Materials

  • To make sure building meets specifications

  • To find out all the faults

  • To check every detail

Construction project management
  • Project Planning

  • The Estimating Process

  • Performance and Payment Bonds

  • Planning of each activity

  • Procurement of materials

  • Financial Planning


For complex construction projects, employers want specialized personnel. 

A master’s degree in Construction Management helps you build your skills as a business manager. 

It prepares you for the construction trade’s current and future challenges. With a master’s degree, you’ll be able to work as a self-employed construction manager.

Here are some subjects you can expect to learn about as a part of this master’s degree:

Operating & Managing a Construction Organization
  • Applications of Statistical Methods

  • Construction Technology

  • Retrofitting of Structures

  • To understand the business process

  • Know about Construction Methods

  • Planning for Construction Equipment

Negotiation & Dispute Resolution
  • Shapes & Geometry of Negotiation

  • Tools for dispute resolution

  • The Protean Negotiator

  • Understanding conflicts

  • Importance of a negotiation

  • Avoid or control a dispute.

Construction Safety Management
  • Construction Safety

  • Safety Technology

  • Accident Prevention

  • Establishing effective safety goals

  • Accident prevention

  • Health preservation and loss reduction


Specialized construction management certificates are available online. 

These certificates can be useful for those who are interested in holding upper-level management positions. For example, you may like to work in a company management position.

Here are some subjects you can expect to learn about as a part of a certificate program:

Construction financial and cost control
  • Construction accounting operations

  • Project Breakdowns and Overviews

  • Forecasts

  • Construction cost monitoring

  • Understanding analysis

  • Calculating project estimates

Construction methods and technology
  • Planning and Drawing

  • Light Construction Systems and Material Resources

  • Non-Structural Systems

  • To understand the construction industry

  • Methods used in construction

  • Planning, designing and constructing the project.

Construction cost estimating
  • Labor, Equipment, and Material

  • Indirect Costs, Overheads, and Cost Indexes.

  • Contingency Analysis

  • To understand Estimates and

  • Details of estimating

  • Labor, materials, equipment, and overhead costs.

How much does a construction manager make?

The median salary for a construction manager is $111,636 per year.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a construction manager’s salary ranges between $96,543–$127,563. 

The salary depends on your education, certification, skills, and experience.

Job growth

In the next ten years, the projected job growth for construction managers is 8%. 
Earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management or construction science and having relevant experience will open up more career opportunities for you to explore.

Where can a job as a construction manager take you?

What other careers can you pursue with experience as a construction manager?

You may want to consider working in another construction-related position. For example, you could be a site engineer, estimator, estate manager, consultant, or property developer.

Some of your skills will be transferable to other industries. If you have experience as a manager, you may be able to apply for other managerial positions.

Final thoughts

Construction managers oversee building operations. They're responsible for a range of duties, including estimating costs, maintaining site safety, and hiring construction specialists.

Most construction managers have a bachelor’s degree, but going further in your education and earning a master’s degree can open new doors for you in your career.
Browse our career guides for more information about how to get into college and pursue the career that you want.