Inside Construction Manager Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"The Way Construction Is Done Rarely Changes...
House renovation and building houses are a lot more easier to learn than previously thought. The way a house is built rarely changes, unlike the technology sector for example." (Contractor; 2014)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, male
School: Studied Business Management at University Of Georgia in Georgia; completed Bachelor degree in 2010

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Builder: "Absolutely the best part of the job is meeting and getting to know the clients, then delivering to the a finished product that enhances their home and lifestyle. The worst part of the job is that it can be stressful. Along with the promise of adding onto someone's home comes the responsibility to ensure the project goes well and the owners are pleased with the finished product. This requires constant communication between the owner and the builder." (2011)

Lead Project Supervisor: "The most enjoyable aspect of my career is bringing historic buildings back to life while updating them to modern standards of efficiency, accessibility, and safety. I have always admired the craftsmanship with which builders of yesteryear constructed their homes, churches and public buildings. Seeing these structures returned to their original luster is truly satisfying to me. The downside of my career is that the day-to-day minutia of running a construction project can make it difficult to see the big picture. There are constant staffing issues, suppliers and sub-contractors to deal with, scheduling snafus and budget problems." (2011)

Carpenter Foreman: "The best parts of my job are the responsibility of building a structure from start to finish. Driving past a business a few months after you have completed it, and seeing an operating, good-looking building is a great satisfaction. A good paycheck is always nice. Skilled trades can pay very well, especially in a supervisory position. The downside is sometimes that I tire of the physical labor that can be involved. Also, sometimes the people who hire me can be unreasonably demanding. This is a rare occurrence, though." (2011)

Partner In A Home Painting And Renovations Company: "The best part of contracting is independence. You choose when, where, and how much you want to work. Once you accept a job, though, you need to be diligent in bringing it to swift completion. There are a couple of drawbacks. Sometimes there are more projects than you can handle. Other times - especially when the economy is down - you can find yourself idled for periods of time. Additionally, it is difficult for a small employer to find affordable health care. And, depending on how your company is set up, you may not be eligible for unemployment compensation." (2011)

Facilities Project Manager: "For me, the best aspect of my job is that I get to work on different projects all the time. I don't get bored because after however long the current project takes, I know that it will end and I can start something different. The worst for me is that it's difficult to keep everyone on schedule so the project is finished when you promised. It's especially difficult when one person you hire takes longer to do their job than they said and there is another person waiting to do their work but can't until the first guy is done." (2011)

Construction Supervisor: "Some of the most rewarding aspects of my work are seeing the progress of a job and the results of our hard work and problem solving. Building a new road and seeing how the traffic (and public sentiment) improves is a source of satisfaction. Other positive areas of my job are seeing the improvement of workers as jobs progress. Some of the worst parts of my job are the constant pressure of deadlines, dealing with employee social problems and having to lay workers off." (2010)

Vice President Of Small Business: "The best part of the work is the satisfaction I derive from knowing my contributions help the company and hearing "we can't do without you." The worst part is that, in a small company like ours, everyone relies on me to "get it done," no matter what the task is. This can be stressful at times. It is not a job that you are done with at the end of the day." (2010)

General Contractor: "The best parts of my job are watching progress being made and watching skilled workers performing top quality work. When progress is being made and the architect and owner are happy this work is very rewarding. The down side to this job are all the problems that come up which slow our progress, cost extra and cause the architect and owner dismay." (2010)

Career Background

Construction Manager

  Job Tasks
  Work Environment
  How to Prepare for the Job
  Job Outlook

Career Video

Career Tips

"Well Trained Contractor Is The Best Contractor...
If you want to get into the business get licensed for everything that is relevant. Learning Spanish will give you a leg up on the competition when dealing with your employees." (Contractor; 2014)

"Work For A Quality Builder...
Certainly the first step toward becoming a designer is going to school to study architecture and design, This can be demanding, but also fun and interesting. I attended school at night and worked during the day. The next thing to do is work as an apprentice in carpentry or some other building trade. Find a good quality building company with good people who are willing to help you learn about building. Develop good work habits: be cooperative, punctual, dependable and hard-working. Be a good team player and never slouch. Always be as helpful as you can." (Builder; 2011)

"Become Familiar With Construction Trades...
Taking courses in business, project management, and basic accounting will not only improve your chances of success on the job, but they will also make you a more marketable employee. Learning how to read and draw blueprints has also proved to be an invaluable skill set for my career. It is advisable to become as familiar as possible with as many aspects of as many trades as you can. Knowing what the scope of work of an electrician, plumber, carpenter, and HVAC contractor will go a long way toward effective communication and efficient forward progress on the job." (Lead Project Supervisor; 2011)

"Learn About Construction Trades...
I would suggest learning as much as possible about ALL the building trades in your area. The work often overlaps with other trades, and you need to be able to communicate with these people. It happens all the time. Learn to read blueprints. This may sound intimidating, but it doesn't require formal training. I learned to read prints on the job. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are sincere, most experienced tradesmen are happy to share their knowledge. On-the-job training is very, very valuable. Codes and standards change all the time, as do techniques and materials required to do the job." (Carpenter Foreman; 2011)

"Learn How The Business Works Before Scaling...
Start small. Learn the business and how the finances work before you try to add many employees. Educate yourself about products and construction techniques. "Winging it" will only lead to disastrous results. Help is available from your paint and building materials suppliers. Don't be too proud to subcontract out those tasks you are not competent to do. And make sure you and your subs have the required licenses and insurance. Get help from experts with the bookkeeping and regulatory compliance." (Partner In A Home Painting And Renovations Company; 2011)

"Tips For Being A Facilities Manager...
Choose to manage projects in a field you love. My best advice for would be to take classes in both accounting and purchasing because those are the areas that can cause the most grief. If you do not understand how to prepare a budget, and do it by guessing, you will cause a lot of problems. If you have a good understanding of purchasing practices, you'll find it very easy to: Understand contracts & service agreements & Keep on top of invoices which makes project closeouts easier. Take project management courses or major in it if available!" (Facilities Project Manager; 2011)

"Need To Be High Energy...
Engineering courses are a must. But some social skills, not so easily acquired in school, can also be exceedingly helpful. You will need to get used to long hours, though the time goes by very fast because there are constant changes. Summertime is normally a very busy time, so vacations in summer are very rare. Stay patient at the beginning of your career because advance will be steady and you will eventually become a valued employee. This type of work requires high levels of energy, which makes it basically a young person's game." (Construction Supervisor; 2010)

"Consider Working P/T First...
If someone wants to move up the ladder in the business sector, organization skills and adaptability are key. Technology is always changing and you have to keep up and adapt to new ideas. Try working part-time in an office during the summer. Some people are just aren't made for sitting at a desk. The business world can be fun and exciting but it has to be the right fit for your personality. Assessment testing can be a good tool to find out where your talents really lie." (Vice President Of Small Business; 2010)

"Mix Business Courses Into Your Construction Degree...
1. Start working in the construction field as soon as you can. I began the summer I was 16 as a laborer. 2. Begin taking courses in junior high and high school that will help you in the future. I took shop in junior high and drafting in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. 3. Get a college degree and include business courses as well as construction-related courses." (General Contractor; 2010)