A construction manager is often the guiding force behind all on-site construction decisions. They are the people who keep construction running on time, and ensure that materials and tools are constantly available.
What is a construction manager?
A construction manager is someone who manages every step of a construction project. Construction managers will have to work closely with architects and quantity surveyors to establish project plans and how to deliver on those plans.
Construction managers are often known as site managers and will need to manage the day-to-day operations of the construction site. When on-site, you must ensure that safety protocols are being observed and that contractors and tradespeople can access all the necessary equipment.
A construction manager has a wide range of responsibilities. These responsibilities can occasionally be delegated to others on-site, but this will depend on the scale and cost of the project.
Many years ago, companies were happy to hire people without formal qualifications.
The responsibilities for a construction manager are:
- Ensure health and safety protocols are adhered to and followed.
- Ensure quality control is carried out smartly and efficiently.
- Ensuring that the architect’s plans are well adhered to.
- Hire and manage workers.
- Liaise with clients.
- Maintain constant communication with consultants, planners, subcontractors and supervisors.
- Monitoring subcontractors.
- Participate in the purchasing and sourcing of raw materials.
- Plan and coordinate a project from its inception through to its completion.
- Stakeholder management.
- Work with quantity surveyors to manage the budget of the project.
- Write detailed progress reports for clients and superiors.
Construction managers often find themselves working with less tangible responsibilities. Keeping morale up on-site and providing emotional and professional support to those working on-site is an essential, often overlooked part of being an effective construction manager.
The salary of a construction manager will vary depending on where you work and the project size. The average salary for a construction manager in the UK is around £52,000.
Responsibility for your training and development will be shared between you and your employer.
Some salaries have been reported higher. It is possible to earn as much as £67,000, though this will likely depend on your experience and qualifications. A construction manager salary will largely be influenced by experience and location.
A degree is usually required for this role. There are no specific qualifications needed to be a site manager, however, most construction-related degrees will be useful. Of course, not all companies will ask for a degree, some may accept a higher national certificate (HNC) or a college diploma, but this will vary depending on where you are applying.
The best subjects to study at university are:
- Building degrees
- Civil engineering degrees
- Construction management degrees
- Engineering degrees
- Project management degrees
- Surveying degrees
Many years ago, companies were happy to hire people without formal qualifications. This has since changed, and most employers will not hire someone without a degree or a course accredited by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
Some employers may allow you to work your way up. It is possible for people to start as a site worker and then move up into a management role. Companies may send workers on formal courses to expand their knowledge before they can move into the role formally.
Training and development
Responsibility for your training and development will be shared between you and your employer. Before beginning, you will need to have a construction skills certification skills card (CSCS), although your employer will generally cover this cost.
As this is a regulated industry, you will need to complete a continuing professional development (CPD). Not all companies may not require a CPD, but it is considered an essential industry, and those without one could find specific projects impossible to work on. You can receive help of some kind with your CPD from the CIOB or from other organisations, including the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStrucE) or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Work experience is not a requirement for this role, but does come in handy.
Registration with industry organisations is not necessary but can be hugely beneficial. The CIOB, ICE, IStrucE and the RICS will all have training courses available for those who need them, as well as Professional Development Programmes (PDP) and support for those looking to build up their portfolio.
A construction manager needs several key skills to be successful in their role. As you gain more construction work experience, you will expand your skill set further.
The skills required for this role are:
- An ability to think on your feet.
- Attention to detail.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Excellent leadership skills.
- Excellent mathematics and IT skills.
- Good commercial awareness.
- Problem-solving skills.
- The ability to work on your own and with others.
These skills can be further honed through training and development.
Work experience is not a requirement for this role, but does come in handy. You will find it difficult to find construction manager work experience, but may be able to find experience in other construction site jobs. Experience in other construction site areas will grant you insight into how other parts of the site operate.
Many of the industry-regulated organisations will have work experience opportunities available. Summer internships, apprenticeships and work experience are all listed on their sites, as well as potential job options.
It is unlikely you will enter into a construction manager role straight away. You will likely work as an assistant to begin (known as a site manager assistant) with and will be involved in elements of client negotiation, pre-production planning and general assistance for existing construction managers.
A construction manager is someone who manages every step of a construction project.
With enough experience, you will soon move into the role full-time. Some construction managers decide to take on an assistant to help with the workload, though this will generally depend on the size of the project.
After this, many construction managers move into other related roles. Many also look into becoming project manager or contracts manager. You can rise to the director role, overseeing other elements of the company besides the construction side.
Freelance work is also available. This is generally recommended when you have several years of experience in the industry and have built up a wide network of contacts.