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How to become a Construction Project Manager

How to become a Construction Project Manager

With so many qualified professionals needed to fill a growing number of positions worldwide, becoming a construction project manager is a great career move. 

We’ve already explored the international job market for Construction Project Managers (CPMs), which is thriving in response to a global construction industry boom. Those with relevant project management skills are likely to find themselves in high demand as current construction industry growth shows no signs of slowing. Research predicts that globally, the construction industry is expected to reach an estimated $10.5 trillion by 2023, developing at a compound annual growth rate of 4.2% from 2018 to 2023.

Let’s look at how you can capitalise on this expansion by becoming a construction project manager.

What is a construction project manager? 

A construction project manager oversees a construction project – such as a build, renovation or demolition – from start to finish. It is the CPM who is responsible for the top-level supervision of the project.

Although the position of construction project manager is often compared to that of a civil engineer, the two roles are quite different. Civil engineers are often analyse the design, planning and impact of a construction project, while CPMs are the ones who ensure it goes ahead accordingly.

What does a construction project manager do? 

From day-to-day, a construction project manager may undertake numerous tasks and activities that keep a construction site operating efficiently and in line with project plans and guidelines.

This may include developing cost and timescale frameworks for projects to run to and updating these as progress is made, and working to solve any problems and issues that may arise. The CPM also supervises the Construction Manager, who in turn oversees the workforce on a construction site, including their work schedules, remits and productivity.    

In addition to this everyday management, a CPM is responsible for several broader aspects of a construction project too, as described in the following section.

What is a construction project manager’s role? 

Before work on a construction project begins, it’s the construction project manager’s job to secure building permits and licences, to negotiate contracts with clients and contractors, and to set budgets for the project.  

Once the project is underway, a construction project manager’s day is likely to include time spent working on external factors that may affect a construction project too, such as ensuring that health and safety standards and building regulations are met throughout the site, and that the project has the resources it needs. 

Throughout the whole process, the CPM will stay in close contact with project stakeholders, such as surveyors and architects, keeping them updated on project performance in relation to set progress benchmarks.

What do I need to become a construction project manager? 

Project management in any industry requires certain skills, and construction is no exception. 

A construction project manager will spend a good deal of time conveying concepts, ideas and targets to others, so must be adept at communicating verbally and in the form of reports and status updates. 

They need to be an effective negotiator too. Various parties involved with a build may have differing priorities and approaches to the project, and it’s the role of the CPM to find a route to successful collaboration that works for all. Leadership skills are also important; the CPM needs to be comfortable setting a direction for a project, steering it to a positive outcome and keeping the team motivated. 

Time management and organisation will help a construction project manager juggle multiple tasks, to manage the time of others and to delegate work for maximum efficiency and productivity. Risk management is crucial; a CPM must be able to recognise and mitigate issues that could hamper project progress, before they arise if possible.  

With the right training, these project management skills can be strengthened and honed. Whatever your level of construction experience, spending time developing your abilities in these areas and exploring sector-specific project management practices can help round out your capabilities. Rather than focusing on general project management skills that can be applied to any industry, it can be more valuable to opt for a course that offers project management principals specific to the construction sector. Finding a course that allows you to understand the whole construction project management cycle and can expose you to strong industry links can set you up to build a better career.

As a rapidly-evolving industry, construction techniques are becoming increasingly subject to data-driven insight. So, understanding smart technologies like Building Information Modelling (BIM) and production practices that are having an impact on the industry, such as Lean, can set you apart. It’s also beneficial to have a grasp of the complex commercial markets within which construction companies operate. Developing relevant industry expertise like this can give you an invaluable head start in construction project management.

The Online MSc in Construction Project Management is designed to provide the key skills and specialist construction knowledge needed to prepare for a career in this expanding field. Find out more about what this course could help you achive by filling in our online form