Guide to Construction Project Management

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about construction project management, including types of jobs, necessary skills, and qualifications. Discover the different career paths and salary information.

[Featured image] Two construction project managers both wearing yellow jackets and blue hard hats are going over plans on a construction site.

Construction project management is a popular profession that focuses on building or construction projects. The industry is fast-growing, and the global construction market has a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.8 percent [1]. As of April 2024, construction managers in India earned an average annual base salary of ₹24,29,736 [2]. 

Construction project management jobs vary and cover a range of construction work, from small-scale builds to large-scale construction projects. You can expect to find positions with the required skills, qualifications, and certifications at varying levels and stages of the construction process. 

What is construction project management?

Construction project management handles the various stages of a construction project. Projects can be anything from residential or commercial buildings to bridges, roads, and eco-builds. Different roles correlate with varying stages of the project’s development. 

Whatever the construction project, the leadership role of a construction project manager (CPM) has a broad scope, often managing a team and processes. A construction project management career involves expertise in the areas that are essential in project management, such as:

  • Managing budgets 

  • Communicating with teams and stakeholders 

  • Knowledge of contract management, risk management, and site safety

Construction project managers usually specialise in a particular area, depending on their skills and experience. 

6 Stages of construction project management

Managing a construction process is considered high-level project management, demanding skills and capabilities above the average project management position. As a project manager, you would oversee six stages of that construction project.   

1. Conception

This stage starts the project and establishes whether the build is feasible and whether the designs are achievable. This step also determines whether the location is suitable and the costs are realistic. At this stage, as the construction project manager, you will work with an engineer or architect to draw up plans and blueprints that meet all required standards. If everything is in order, you will draw up a project initiation document (PID) detailing the business needs and case for the construction and start the tendering process for the contract. 

2. Pre-construction

The pre-construction or planning phase occurs before construction can begin. You put together a project management plan (PMP), a roadmap for what’s to come. That roadmap considers factors like visiting the site, conducting relevant soil tests, ordering material, selecting a team, assigning roles, and deciding on appropriate project management software. 

The PMP outlines the project deliverables and milestones. It also provides a communication plan to ensure minimal conflicts and a risk management plan to minimise disturbances, ensuring adjustments can be seamlessly made if problems arise. 

3. Project execution

The construction project begins now. The plans should be in place, materials should be ready, and a team should be in place to carry out the work. This stage is critical and relies heavily on how well you have executed the previous steps.

4. Monitoring

This stage follows the execution stage, although much monitoring happens concurrently to measure progress and quality. Now is the time to test what the construction team has built, address any errors or safety concerns, and train staff to use and maintain systems within the building or structure. It’s also a great time to register any challenges that may help future projects.

5. Occupancy and warranty period

At this stage, the owners of the new building or structure are in the warranty phase. These may be contractual warranties or warranties that are in effect as part of the law for the building. 

6. Close

At this point, construction on the project is complete. Construction project managers hold meetings to discuss the build and to address any areas that didn’t meet objectives and how they addressed those challenges. Final budgets and reports get issued.  

Roles of the construction project manager

In any construction project, project managers are responsible for several tasks that are beyond those of a general project manager. They require specialist knowledge and experience.

Managing procurement in the construction phase

During the construction phase, you are responsible for all bidding and tendering, contracting workers, and negotiating with contractors to secure preferable prices. 

Managing change in the construction phase

Change management is a skill that a construction project manager needs to possess. Unforeseen circumstances will result in changes, and a construction project manager has contingency plans for different eventualities. You will likely need to make changes with many processes and people to manage. 

Tracking work on the construction site.

Your role is monitoring progress, conducting inspections, quality control exercises, and ensuring safety. A construction project manager records any problems or deficiencies with strategies for improvement. 

Cost control monitoring in the construction phase.

Monitoring and controlling costs are essential in a project where costs can quickly add up unexpectedly and processes are subject to change. A construction project manager's role is to budget effectively and monitor progress to ensure everyone upholds the budgets and everything remains on schedule to avoid extra costs. 

Document control and records management for construction.

Construction project managers are responsible for keeping records of building work, addressing any problems or safety concerns, making budget changes, and monitoring for improvements. Reaching and maintaining agreements with contractors is essential; you will write and complete documentation related to those contracts.  

Areas of focus for construction project managers

A construction project management career requires a broad focus and skill in various areas to complete projects at a high level. Construction project managers train and gain experience to undertake projects and cover the following throughout each project they manage:

  • Communicating with contractors and stakeholders 

  • Contract administration

  • Cost management

  • High-level project management

  • Involving stakeholders in every change of plans

  • Keeping track of team, materials, and costs

  • Logging hours on the job site

  • Quality, team, and time management

  • Reading all contracts thoroughly

  • Safety management

  • Staying on schedule and avoiding slippage

How to become a good construction project manager

Construction project management is high-level and requires top skills and qualifications. Experience is essential, as well as proving that you have the academic ability to do the job.  

Education and experience

Working your way up to a construction project management position from an entry-level construction role is possible. Still, a degree is commonly required, especially for large-scale projects with large firms. Typical degrees are in construction management or similar fields, but you can also enter the profession with a degree in civil engineering. 

Technical skills

The role of a construction project manager requires a broad range of technical skills, given that project management software systems are used, as well as programs to draw up blueprints and track costs. A construction project management professional generally has knowledge and experience in the following:

  • Blueprints and drawings

  • Microsoft Office and relevant computer software

  • Engineering, construction, and architecture practices and principles

  • Budgeting, negotiating, scheduling, and managing costs

  • Contractor and subcontractor documents, terms and conditions, and pay rates

Competencies and traits of a good construction manager

A good construction project manager will have many project manager traits but with the added expertise of the construction industry. If you are hoping to start your career in construction project management, consider how you will exhibit the following qualities:

  • Organisational skills

  • Teamwork and collaboration

  • Ability to delegate tasks

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Ability to work under pressure

  • Problem-solving

  • Adaptability

  • Negotiation

  • Multitasking 

  • Strong leadership and management capabilities

Recommended certifications

Although having a construction project management career certificate is optional, some companies will ask for certifications specific to the job. When this is not the case, you can boost your CV and verify your credentials by taking one. Certifications include: 


  • Project Management Professional (PMP)

  • Certified Construction Manager (CCM)

  • Construction Products Certificate (CPC)

  • Construction Health and Safety Manager  (NEBOSH Construction Certificate)

  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

  • Other role-specific certifications

Construction management software solutions to use

Construction project management uses various software and technical tools to monitor, test, and evaluate processes. These are essential, but which you use will depend on the nature of the project and the organisation you work for. Some popular construction management software solutions include:

  • Autodesk Construction Cloud

  • CoConstruct

  • Procore

  • Smartsheet

  • VPO

  • Oracle Primavera Cloud

  • RedTeam

  • BuildPro

  • Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate

Career paths in construction project management

A construction project management career can take many forms, depending on the niche you choose, your skills, experience, construction project management qualifications, and preferences. Here are some roles you can pursue in construction project management: 

  • Field engineer: ₹14,84,052 [3]

  • Construction superintendent: ₹4,56,000 [4]

  • Sustainability consultant: ₹5,20,000 [5]

  • Construction manager: ₹24,29,736 [6]

  • Construction project manager: ₹8,42,500 [7

  • Site engineer: ₹14,07,768 [8

  • General contractor: ₹1,24,884 [9]

Ready to start a career in construction project management?

A career in construction project management offers various positions and career development possibilities. If you’re ready to start a career in construction project management, learn more through an introductory qualification, such as the Construction Management Specialisation offered by Columbia University on Coursera. Consider boosting your general project management skills with the Google Project Management Professional Certificate.

Article sources


The Business Research Company. “Global Construction Market Report 2022 – Market Forecast, Trends And Strategies,” Accessed April 25, 2024.

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