How to Become a Construction Manager: Your Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about what a construction manager does and how you can get started in this leadership role.

[Featured Image] Two construction workers speak with their construction manager at an outdoor site on a sunny day. They are all wearing reflective vests and hard hats.

A construction manager coordinates a building project from start to finish. Managers often work at the construction site from a field office to monitor progress, make on-the-spot decisions, and supervise employees. Typical duties in this role might include:

  • Preparing budgets, cost estimates, and work timetables

  • Negotiating with subcontractors and vendors

  • Collaborating with architects, engineers, and specialised trade workers

  • Scheduling and coordinating subcontractors

  • Overseeing work progress to meet deadlines

  • Ensuring compliance with local and state building and construction codes

  • Monitoring the job site for safety hazards

  • Managing any emergencies or work delays

In substantial projects, like an office building, a construction manager may focus on only one aspect (plumbing, electric wiring, foundation, etc.). In a smaller project, they may oversee the entire build.

What is a typical construction manager's salary?

According to the National Careers Service, a construction manager can expect to bring in between £27,000 and £65,000 annually [1]. In general, construction managers work between 41 to 45 hours per week, and typical weeks may include weekends or weeknights, depending on the type of construction project. In cases where you work over a 40-hour week, you will be compensated for overtime.  

Types of construction managers

Construction project groups vary from industrial, commercial, infrastructure, and residential to more specialised projects, like roads, bridges, and monuments. Because of the diversity of projects, some construction managers specialise in one particular niche. 

Some focus on smaller renovation-type projects, while others oversee massive new builds or focus solely on transportation infrastructure. Take a look at this breakdown of some of the different types of construction management positions:

  • Residential building project managers focus on renovating or constructing housing, including apartment complexes, multifamily units, or single-family homes.

  • Commercial construction managers oversee the construction or renovation of commercial buildings, including retail shops and corporate offices. 

  • Infrastructure managers oversee building roads, bridges, or other public infrastructure assets.

  • Industrial construction managers oversee the construction of industrial structures, such as warehouses or manufacturing buildings.

How to become a construction manager

Most companies in the UK look for construction managers with relevant qualifications, such as a foundation degree or higher national diploma, in building science, building engineering, construction engineering, construction site management, or civil engineering. When looking for applicable university or college courses, you should look for accredited programmes by The Chartered Institute of Building. Generally, one to three A levels are required to enter a degree programme. 

If you're starting to become a construction manager, you may first get hired as an estimator, building technician, surveyor, or site supervisor. This acts as a training period, allowing you to act under the guidance of a more experienced manager. This training period could last months or years, depending on the client or firm you work for. You can also enter a degree apprenticeship, such as one in construction site management or design and construction management. Degree apprenticeships typically take three to four years to complete and require four or five GSCEs at grades nine to four to enter.

Gain your Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Card)

To legally work on a construction site, you will need to gain your Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent. Registering as a member of the Chartered Institute of Building is also a good idea to establish your professional position in the field and open networking and professional development opportunities.

Construction manager skills

The role of a construction manager is a multi-faceted job that utilises a broad skill set. Many clients look to hire a construction manager who has the following qualities:

Technical skills:

  • A full driving licence

  • Project management

  • Knowledge of standard building codes

  • Familiarity with a wide variety of construction practices and techniques

  • Familiarity with technology and software used on the job

Workplace skills:

  • Leadership abilities

  • Adaptability

  • Communication skills

  • Organisational skills

  • Negotiation

  • Time management

  • Flexibility

  • Risk management

Construction manager career path

If you study construction management or work as a construction manager, you may have the opportunity to take on other, more specialised roles as your career advances. These include the following:

  • Contract management and consultant roles

  • Health and safety support services roles

  • Building inspection roles

  • Facilities management roles

  • Specialised roles such as environmental consultant or building engineer

Get started with Coursera

Now's an excellent time to start preparing for a position as a construction manager, thanks to good career prospects and the availability of jobs. See if this career might fit your interests by taking a beginner-friendly class in Construction Project Management from Columbia University on Coursera. 

If you’re considering getting a degree, consider the Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack® Certificate from the University of Michigan. If you complete this MasterTrack Certificate and are admitted to the full master’s programme, your credits count toward your degree.

Article sources

  1. National Careers Service. “Construction manager,” Accessed June 7, 2024. 

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