What Does a Construction Manager (CM) Do? | How to Become a Construction Manager?

Published on 05th July 2022

A construction manager (CM) is a professional who oversees and manages the entire construction process in AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) projects. CM plays an important role in the overall construction management process of large-scale capital-intensive projects (commercial construction, industrial facilities, military infrastructure, and transport projects).


The terms Construction Manager (CM), Project Manager (PM), and General Contractor (GC) are often used interchangeably. However, a CM’s roles differ from a PM or GC and the differences have been discussed in the subsequent sections.


What is construction management in AEC projects?

Construction Management is a specialized service that deals with construction plans, construction methods, onsite coordination, and supervision of the entire construction process right from the beginning to the end of a construction project.


Construction project management largely controls the duration, delivery time, cost, and overall quality of the entire project. CM is an integral part of Design-Bid-Build (DBB), Design-Build (DB), Construction Manager-at-Risk (CMAR), and the Integrated Project Delivery Method. In fact, the CM’s role and level of involvement define the various project delivery methods.


What does a construction manager do?

Construction managers plan, coordinate and supervise the construction process. Often the construction managers collaborate with construction specialists such as architects, designers, civil engineers, and other construction professionals to ensure the construction progresses as per designs and schedules.


On some occasions, a CM may also interact with government officials to ensure compliance with regulatory guidelines, concerning environmental and safety issues.


Roles of a construction manager in the construction industry include:

  • Collaborate and coordinate with construction professionals
  • Supervise the works of other professionals and construction activity
  • Preparing construction budget and work schedule
  • Interpret contracts and other technical information and convey it to others 
  • Monitor the progress and prepare work reports
  • Be the primary respondent to emergencies and work delays on the construction site
  • Ensure legal and regulatory compliances and building codes and safety norms


Construction Manager: Work Environment

Construction managers may have a main office building, but typically spend the majority of their time on-site, monitoring projects and making decisions concerning construction activity. Those in charge of multiple projects must visit the various work sites.


Construction Manager: Work Schedules

Most construction managers are full-time employees, and some may even work over 40 hours a week. Work schedules for construction managers might vary. They may be required to work additional hours to fulfill deadlines. Sometimes they need to be available on-call round the clock in case of an emergency or crisis on the project site.


Construction Manager Salary

The average salary of a construction manager ranges from USD 60000 to USD 150000 per annum. Additionally, construction managers are also entitled to bonuses and other perks. Independent construction contractors with years of experience may earn much above the average salary.


Construction Manager vs. General Contractor 

Construction Manager (CM)

General Contractor (GC)

A Construction Manager or Construction Project Manager is an individual

General Contractor can be an individual or a company

CM is hired by the project owner based on qualifications, experience, and merit

GC is hired by the project owner through an elaborate bidding process

CM is involved in every construction phase which may include collaboration in the design phase

GC’s main works start after the design is complete

CM mainly oversees/supervises the construction activity on the job site

GC is responsible for building the facility as per the design



Construction Manager vs. Project Manager

Construction Manager (CM)

Project Manager (PM)

The construction Manager deals with only the construction phase of the project

The project manager deals with the entire project including marketing and administrative needs

Construction work experience is a necessary criterion to become a CM

Construction work experience may or may not be required to become a PM

CM prepares the budget only for the construction phase

PM works with cost estimators for preparing the cost estimation for the overall project including pre-construction and post-construction costs

CM acts as a construction superintendent and manages the subcontractors and construction workers

PM is the single point of contact between the owner and other contractors, designers, and architects

As the construction supervisor, CM mostly needs to be present on the operation site

PM may or may not need to travel to the project site and may work from an office building

CM reports to either the GC or PM

PM directly reports to the owner



The job outlook for construction managers

The construction industry is expanding at a rapid pace and soon it will hit the USD 14.4 trillion mark by 2030. This means the opportunity for new construction managers is immense in the multiple upcoming projects worldwide. 


Per a general construction job outlook prediction by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction manager jobs will witness an 11.5 % year-on-year growth between 2020 to 2030, resulting in more than 50000 jobs being open annually during this period.


How to become a construction manager?

Most construction managers hold a bachelor's degree and acquire management experience as they go along their career path. Large construction companies may favor candidates with both construction experience and a bachelor's degree in a discipline connected to construction from a chartered institute.


However, such managers are more likely to operate as independent general contractors than as construction managers.


Qualifications to become a construction manager

To become a certified construction manager from an aspiring construction manager, one needs a mix of construction experience and academic qualifications. A construction manager job description often requires a degree in construction science, such as a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or any other relevant stream of construction engineering.


Important skills

Analytical skills: During a project, construction managers must be able to come up with plans, figure out why there are differences in costs, and solve problems.


Business skills: Construction managers must create and adhere to project budgets, hire and supervise employees, and collaborate with other workers and management. 


Construction managers who work alone must make their own business prospects and be aggressive in acquiring new clients.


Communication skills: Construction managers must be able to communicate information clearly. Managers have to give clear instructions, explain hard-to-understand information to construction workers, and talk about technical details with construction supervisors.


Decision-making skills: Construction managers must select the right construction workers and hire different types of subcontractors for certain specific tasks. They also have to make several decisions about projects to ensure deadlines and budgets are met.


Leadership skills: To guarantee that projects are finished on time without compromising quality, construction managers must successfully assign tasks to construction employees, subcontractors, and other lower-level managers.


Technical skills: Construction managers need to know how the industry works and how to do things like reading technical drawings and understanding contracts.


The bottom line

Construction managers play a key role in construction projects by overseeing the day-to-day affairs during the construction phase of the project. They work closely with other construction professionals to ensure the construction meets its deadline within the budget.


Are you a construction manager looking for construction leads?

Check out the current and upcoming construction projects worldwide to find out relevant opportunities for yourself.

How can we help
you today?