Construction is an extremely complex endeavor. As a construction management major, you will deal with every facet of a construction project. The Construction Management degree includes courses on architecture, labor relations, cost evaluation, materials handling, city planning, blue print reading and more. This is a field that is much more complex than the name may imply. Construction managers often pursue graduate work in Civil Engineering as well.
Construction Managers plan, direct, and coordinate a wide variety of construction projects, including the building of all types of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants, and schools and hospitals. Construction managers may oversee an entire project or just part of a project and, although they usually play no direct role in the actual construction of a structure, they typically schedule and coordinate all design and construction processes, including the selection, hiring, and oversight of specialty trade contractors.
Construction managers are salaried or self-employed managers who oversee construction supervisors and workers. They often go by the job titles program manager, constructor, construction superintendent, project engineer, project manager, construction supervisor, general contractor, or similar designations. Construction managers may be owners or salaried employees of a construction management or contracting firm, or may work under contract or as a salaried employee of the property owner, developer, or contracting firm overseeing the construction project.
Construction managers coordinate and supervise the construction process from the conceptual development stage through final construction, making sure that the project gets done on time and within budget. They often work with owners, engineers, architects, and others who are involved in the construction process. Given the designs for buildings, roads, bridges, or other projects, construction managers oversee the planning, scheduling, and implementation of the project to execute those designs.
Large construction projects, such as an office building or industrial complex, are often too complicated for one person to manage. Therefore, these projects are divided into many segments: Site preparation, including land clearing and earth moving; sewage systems; landscaping and road construction; building construction, including excavation and laying of foundations and erection of the structural framework, floors, walls, and roofs; and building systems, including fire-protection, electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning, and heating. Construction managers may be in charge of one or more of these activities.
Construction managers evaluate and help determine appropriate construction delivery systems and the most cost-effective plan and schedule for completing the project. They divide all required construction site activities into logical steps, budgeting the time required to meet established deadlines. This may require sophisticated estimating and scheduling techniques and use of computers with specialized software. (See the section oncost estimators elsewhere in the Handbook.)
Construction managers oversee the selection of general contractors and trade contractors to complete specific pieces of the project—which could include everything from structural metalworking and plumbing to painting and carpet installation. Construction managers determine the labor requirements and, in some cases, supervise or monitor the hiring and dismissal of workers. They oversee the performance of all trade contractors and are responsible for ensuring that all work is completed on schedule.