Your Guide to Construction Management Degrees

Written by Coursera • Updated on

A construction manager oversees the planning, design, and execution of projects. Learn about the different types of degrees available to help you build a career as an expert in this field.

[Featured image] A construction manager reviews plans with two construction workers. They're all wearing hard hats and yellow work vests.

A construction management degree is an effective way to enter the construction profession at the management level. Gain the skills you need to work on-site, oversee large-scale construction projects, and build expertise in the different stages of construction. Earning your construction management degree could lead to a range of career paths, from project management to project engineering. 

What is a construction management degree? 

While you'll find construction management degrees at a variety of levels, from a two-year associate degree to a master's, the most common option is a bachelor’s degree. This degree course tends to be very hands-on with a focus on on-site aspects of construction, from managing teams of construction workers and budgets, organizing and managing project work, implementing construction methods and materials, and learning to understand building codes, blueprints, surveying, legal issues, and construction-related computer applications. 

Typical coursework

Construction management degree coursework is focused on learning practical tools and solutions to complement a hands-on job that mostly takes place on-site. Examples of courses you might experience at the bachelor's level include:

  • Architectural graphics

  • Construction contacts, specifications, and law

  • Construction materials and methods

  • Construction project management

  • Construction soils and foundations

  • Construction surveying

  • Cost estimating

  • Electrical systems for buildings

  • Engineer construction technology, design, materials, and safety

  • Mechanical systems for buildings

Construction management vs. civil engineering degree

Construction management is often compared to civil engineering, but while there are some clear similarities, they are different disciplines and require different degree programs. Civil engineering is concerned with a project's infrastructure, including planning, safety, legal permits, and budgeting. Construction management is concerned with transforming designs and plans into actual buildings and physical structures. Construction managers are more hands-on in approach and work primarily onsite. A degree in construction management helps you form a solid grounding and develop the skills you need to work in both fields, making it a versatile option.

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Typical degree admission requirements 

Entry requirements for a construction management degree program vary according to where you apply. Generally, these requirements include a high school diploma and an SAT or ACT score. As construction management is so hands-on, experience is highly regarded. Some programs will ask for experience or accept people working in the field, even if their educational background doesn’t meet standard requirements. Some courses ask candidates to take an entrance exam.

What can you do with a construction management degree?

With this degree, you can prepare for a role as a construction manager for a variety of building projects. You might find employment with an architectural firm, building contractor, engineering company, or environmental firm. These are some job-specific skills you can learn through your degree program:

  • Supervising and directing construction projects from conception to completion

  • Managing a team of construction workers

  • Understanding and explaining plans, blueprints, and contract terms to contractors, administrative staff, firms, and clients

  • Estimating and analyzing cost

  • Ensuring compliance with all building and safety regulations for construction

  • Taking account of ethics, construction law, and health and safety

  • Understanding the construction process from a business perspective 

  • Analyzing structural systems

  • Managing and submitting bid applications and tenders 

  • Identifying appropriate construction methods based on client specifications, budgets, and materials available 

  • Meeting client deadlines, budgets, and contractual requirements 

  • Negotiating agreement terms, drafting contracts, and obtaining permits and licenses

  • Liaising with architects, engineers, and construction specialists

  • Monitoring projects and producing progress reports

Construction management degree salary

Prepare for a range of career options, with varying salaries and entry requirements, with this degree. Here's a look at some job titles and their corresponding salaries:

  • Construction project engineer:$100,825

  • Construction manager: $96,097

  • Construction project manager: $94,274

  • Construction superintendent: $91,244 

  • Construction supervisor:$86,359

  • Construction foreman: $68,444 

*Data above represents average annual salaries in the United States according to Glassdoor (July 2022)

Is a construction management degree worth it?

A degree is not essential to work in construction management, but it is becoming more commonplace for employers to list it as a requirement. You can support your career advancement and improve your leadership capabilities, technical abilities, and knowledge of environmental trends by pursuing a degree in construction management. 

The job outlook for construction managers is good, with employment expected to grow 11 percent between 2020 and 2030 [1], which is faster than average. This translates to greater job stability and opportunities for development while earning a substantial income.

Construction management certifications

In addition to earning a degree, you may need to be licensed to work as a construction manager in some states. Check with your state licensing board for details. The following are some recognized options, along with additional certifications that could make you a more competitive candidate: 

  • Certified Construction Manager (CCM)

  • Associate Constructor (AC)

  • Certified Professional Constructor (CPC)

  • LEED Green Associate

  • Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST)

  • Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional (CCIFP)

  • Certified Safety Professional (CSP)

Want to learn more about construction management?

Explore whether a degree in construction management could be a good fit with Construction Management from Columbia University on Coursera—a great starting point before enrolling in a degree. If you already have a degree in construction management, you might consider boosting your credentials with a university certificate, like the Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack® Certificate from the University of Michigan. 

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specialization

Construction Management

Construction Project Management and Planning. Develop and understand the foundations of project planning and scheduling techniques

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Schedule, Cost Estimate, Cost Control, Finance, Real Estate finance, Project Management, Construction Management, Work Breakdown Structure, Project Planning, Linear Scheduling Method, Program Evaluation And Review Technique (PERT), Critical Path Method, Cash Flow, Cost, Financial Modeling, Project, Real Estate

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Construction Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm.” Accessed July 29, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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