Project managers in construction oversee projects from inception to completion, ensuring seamless operations and timely delivery through effective time, resource and team management. They are also natural leaders and can navigate the complexities of construction involving multiple stakeholders, making them an invaluable asset to the industry. This post will go over the responsibilities and skills that define the role of a project manager in construction and explore the path to becoming one.
What Is a Construction Project Manager?
A construction project manager plans and executes construction projects, overseeing the entire project timeline. They are responsible for various tasks, including planning, coordination, resource management and budget control. As leaders, they manage construction teams and delegate responsibilities while monitoring progress and reporting to key stakeholders. Below are the defining aspects of a project manager in construction:
- Key Responsibilities: Planning and managing, resource coordination and management.
- Necessary Skills: Effective communication, leadership, construction knowledge, risk assessment, troubleshooting and monitoring.
- Education and Experience: A relevant bachelor’s degree in construction management with practical work experience.
- Average Salary: $115,649
Key Responsibilities of a Project Manager in Construction
As leaders in construction, project managers oversee construction teams and establish regular communication with key stakeholders. They will have core project management skills in time and budget management, monitoring, reporting, quality control, troubleshooting and adaptability. Additionally, they will have expert knowledge of construction practices, materials, equipment and construction regulations — local, regional and national — that will inform their decision-making. Project managers in construction oversee the most critical responsibilities of a project to ensure successful outcomes. Let’s review the responsibilities below.
Project Planning and Management
Project planning and management involves formulating comprehensive project plans, setting timelines and ensuring that all tasks progress on schedule. Project scoping for a construction project manager consists of outlining deliverables and timelines while detailing specifications in designs, materials and construction stages for what is being built, providing their teams with a clear road map of their projects.
To avoid cost overruns, project managers meticulously manage project budgets, negotiate with vendors and make informed decisions to stay within financial constraints. Project managers regularly conduct cost analyses and forecasting to identify cost-saving opportunities. They are responsible for estimating foundational work, structural elements and electric installations while also considering the inflation costs of materials.
Resource Coordination and Management
Project managers build rapport with suppliers and vendors to effectively coordinate resources and materials. This not only optimizes workflows but also ensures minimal material waste. They will also schedule and deploy construction equipment and machinery to secure project timelines. Additionally, project managers keep track of new construction technologies to consider for future projects.
Top 7 Skills of a Project Manager in Construction
There are multiple skills that a project manager needs to succeed in construction. This post highlights the top seven skills that make a project manager one of the best.
Project managers inspire and motivate their teams to accomplish project goals and confidently tackle challenges. They give clear direction and delegate responsibilities effectively while fostering collaboration and celebrating project successes and milestones with their teams. Effective project manager leadership enables team members to play to their best strengths and facilitates growth in areas where team members lack, contributing to a positive work environment.
A comprehensive understanding of construction processes, techniques and industry standards empowers project managers to make informed decisions and address technical intricacies. Project managers will understand local, regional and national building codes and regulations for legal compliance and safety. They will also have knowledge of on-site construction methods, such as traditional and modular construction.
Effective communication allows construction project managers to align with stakeholders, contractors and team members through seamless collaboration. They clearly convey project objectives and expectations, facilitating a shared understanding across teams and stakeholders. Project managers actively listen to feedback to promote open dialogue and resolve issues proactively.
Risk Assessment and Management
Identifying potential risks and devising strategies to mitigate them enables project managers in construction to maintain project progress. They conduct risk assessments at each project stage, considering factors like safety hazards, financial uncertainties and external influences. For site-specific risks, project managers will conduct thorough site surveys to map out any geological dangers. They will also prepare emergency plans to respond to natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
Quality Control and Compliance
Construction authorities such as the International Code Council (ICC) set guidelines known as building codes and building regulations to ensure safety and quality in construction projects. These codes and regulations are then enforced on a local and municipality, city, or count level. Project managers need expert knowledge of construction regulations and in construction materials, as it informs how they implement quality assurance processes and conduct inspections. They will also regularly review and verify the quality of construction materials by inspecting compliance certificates from suppliers and conducting material tests such as compress tests for concrete and moisture content tests for wood materials.
Quick and effective troubleshooting skills empower construction project managers to address challenges promptly, keeping projects on track. When unexpected issues arise, they analyze the situation, identify the root cause and implement suitable solutions. In material shortages, project managers will work with suppliers and subcontractors to source alternative solutions to keep a project within its timeline. In addressing on-site hazardous risks, they will implement safety training measures and guidelines for their teams.
Monitoring and Reporting
Regularly monitoring project progress and providing regular updates to stakeholders facilitates informed decision-making and promotes transparency. Project managers use project management tools and reports to track key performance indicators, budget allocations and timelines. By analyzing project data, they can proactively address deviations, communicate progress effectively and keep stakeholders informed throughout construction. Progress tracking for a project manager involves generating reports that detail the ongoing progress for foundational work, framing, installations and more. They will also communicate milestones to stakeholders, such as when a roof is completed or the final project handover to a client.
How To Become a Construction Project Manager
Construction project managers can be an appealing career for those who thrive in leadership positions. Individuals who are collaborative, timely and interested in construction make for a great fit for the role. For those aspiring to become construction project managers, the following steps can pave the way to a rewarding career:
Step 1 — Obtain Education
Pursue a relevant bachelor’s degree in construction management or a related field, and consider further certifications or a master’s degree for added expertise. Consider enrolling in accredited programs that offer specialized courses in construction technology, project scheduling, contract administration and construction law to gain a well-rounded skill set.
Step 2 — Gain Work Experience
Acquiring practical experience within the construction industry by starting from an entry-level position and advancing to managerial roles can help facilitate career growth into a project manager position. Consider joining construction firms or contractors. On-site experience allows individuals to understand the day-to-day operations, work alongside skilled professionals and grasp the intricacies of construction processes.
Step 3 — Achieve Professional Certifications
Obtaining recognized construction certifications, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), bolsters the credibility of construction project managers. Prospective examinees for the PMP certification exam can expect to prepare anywhere from two to three months of studying and spend either $405 (member of PMI) or $575 (nonmember). Examinees should also meet the following prerequisites to qualify:
Four-year university degree holders
- 36 months of project management experience in the last eight years
- 35 hours of formal project management education and training
High school diploma holders
- 60 months of project management experience in the last eight years
- 35 hours of formal project management education and training
Construction Manager vs. Project Manager
While construction managers and project managers are indispensable in the construction industry, their roles differ significantly. Construction managers primarily focus on supervising on-site operations and coordinating labor activities. Project managers have a more specific responsibility — they oversee all facets of a project. Managing teams and resources is as important to the construction project manager role as understanding equipment and its application in projects. Learn more about our rental equipment and how we can help in your next project.
Project managers in construction need to be well-rounded and demonstrate the leadership skills and construction knowledge to ensure project success and efficient workflows. See our infographic below that details the responsibilities, skills and benefits of a project manager in construction.