Associate’s degrees have a long and revered history in this field. For the person employed in the field, these part-time degrees can be completed in 2 to 3 years.
Combined with years of on the job experience, an Associate’s degree is the perfect choice for the individual seeking to be promoted to foreman or who want to be project managers. With enough time in these roles, they can find themselves taking the top spots as site engineers.
A faster career path tends to favor those who earn a bachelor’s degree. With a bachelor’s degree and a little bit of experience the new candidate can leapfrog grizzled veterans of the industry.
New graduates with a four -ear degree are better prepared to master the demands of the EPA and local restrictions and to understand the intricacies of new technologies. They typically enter the workforce at a higher level and then grow from that position, commanding a much higher wage.
Graduates of a four-year program are often tasked with overseeing the foremen and project managers on job sites. They work in more managerial roles or work in a supervisor position over the building and development departments of municipalities.
Even those who begin with an associate’s program, may choose to further their career by continuing their education and receiving a bachelor’s degree.
Those who have two or more years of experience in conjunction with a bachelor’s degree are highly sought after in the work force.
What is a Construction Management Degree?
A construction manager oversees all or part of a building project to ensure that it stays on track and in compliance with local building ordinances.
These could be small, single-family dwellings, tract development of multiple homes and larger industrial and residential complexes. On larger complexes, a manager will likely oversee one portion of the project and will work with other managers to ensure that the entire project comes together on time and on budget.
There many federal, state and local municipal laws that have to be met during a project. The manager will often meet with different inspectors and elected officials to verify that the project it proceeding in accordance with these restrictions. Having an outgoing personality will help this individual as there is a lot of time spent in face-to-face meetings with other supervisors.
Many managers choose to specialize within a narrow area of the construction industry. If you live in a larger city or don’t mind traveling, specializing in large commercial construction projects can be very rewarding and financially profitable. However, specializing in smaller construction projects can sometimes lead to greater flexibility and work-life family balance.
Construction management degrees can be done as a certification or as a two-year degree. More commonly, they are pursued as part of a bachelor’s program or even in conjunction with an MBA.
History of a Construction Management Degree
In the 1960’s, with a growing economy and rapid inflation, it was difficult to complete a building on time and on budget. As a result, general contractors often found themselves in the “hot seat” as they struggled to find cost overruns and budget appropriations.
It was around this time that the first project managers began to come on the scene who were specifically incentivized to control costs and to carefully manage projects to guarantee that they were completed on time and under budget.
Since the Great Recession of 2008 and the correlating housing crash, there has been an overwhelming need for skilled professionals in the construction industry. In 2008 and 2009, many older employees of this field chose to switch careers or take an early retirement. As a result, many positions opened up.
However, the younger generation has leaned towards technological training with many of them choosing fields other than the construction industry. This further exacerbates the problem, creating further opportunity for skilled construction managers to command an excellent wage.
How Much Money Does A Construction Management Degree Earn?
The starting salary for a construction manager who has just graduated can be as low as $69,000. However, with the current growth of the economy, all it takes is a little experience to begin negotiating higher wages.
The median income is somewhere around $87,000 with the top construction managers earning over $121,000.
The industry is expected to grow at 11%, which is greater than the average of other industries, making this one of the fastest-growing opportunities that you can consider.
What Kind Of Jobs Can You Get With a Construction Management Degree?
There are seven common specialties of construction that you will frequently be able to work in. They are Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, Institutional, Industrial Heavy civil and Environmental.
Keep in mind that there are sub-specialties to these fields as well. For example, you might mostly work in the category of Heavy Civil, but are are primarily involved in building bridges.
What Kind Of Construction Experience Do You Need To Excel In This Field?
Construction is a hands-on field. Unless you are in the residential field, you won’t likely be expected to know how to remodel a house, but is sure can help to know your way around a table saw. Tool Tally has found that two summers of interning or working for a local construction crew is the minimum needed to be competitive in the market.
Ideally, you will spend every summer working with different teams and finding greater internships. While it is appropriate to spend your first summer working on a building crew, you need to intern with engineering companies where you can work directly underneath a construction manager and see what the day-to-day operations are like.
The degree can help you get started, but just having the degree with having some real-world experience can prove to be a liability. Confidence on a job site is key, and having proactical experience will enable you to better communicate with the crew and to anticipate problems before they happen.
Technology You Need To Master To Excel As a Construction Manager
We’re beginning to see augmented reality and virtual reality enter the work force, but it has not taken full control, yet. In the meantime, you can expect to spend a lot of time on your laptop or tablet, as well as with full-size building plans.
In your Construction management degree you will learn how to understand a blueprint and common problems to look out for. It is likely that you will also master software such as CoConstruct or ProCore which enables you to manage projects, work with your supervisors and sub-contractors an verify that the entire team is on track.
Is Construction Management An Engineering Degree?
Construction managers are sometimes called “site engineers” but they aren’t engineers in the typical sense of the word. Some of them will not have a degree, but will have worked there way into the role by shadowing others on the job.
Those who choose to go to school will learn much about the building materials, cost estimations, compliance with building codes and how to manage a project.
By contrast, civil engineers will commonly work on construction projects as well. However, they are more heavily involved in the design of the project. Their schooling requires them to master mathematics and physics and is often considered a more grueling course of study.
Some of the engineering-type course that a student would take would be things like AutoCAD and construction surveying and mapping. You will also learn about energy systems for buildings and will likely learn the basics behind some of the energy efficient construction models.
These programs are an applied science program that focus on the application of the engineering principles. As a result they tend to be highly practical and less theoretical.
Is It A Hard Degree To Get?
Construction has always been a hands-on job. While it continues to get more complicated as electricians introduce complicated controls and the Internet of things begins requiring fiber optic wiring inside of buildings, the job continues to reward the practical and efficient individual.
While this degree will require intense studying at times, it should not be considered a hard degree and will not be as difficult as a pre-medical course or engineering course would be.
Distance Learning Options For Construction Management
There are many online schools that offer a construction management education via distance education. One caveat would be that you will still need introductions to the work force. Because of this, distance education should only be considered by those who are already working inside the field and who have confidence that their resume and their connections in the industry will assist them in landing a position.
A much better option would be to closely consider taking classes locally as it can provide the face-to-face career development that is lacking in an online education.