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Construction Manager

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Construction manager

Tell me about it

Construction managers – also known as site managers, site agents or building managers – supervise and direct people to make sure a building project is completed safely, on time and within budget. This may be the construction of a new building or the maintenance of an existing one. The cost of a building project may range from several thousand to hundreds of millions of pounds. 

The work could include developing a programme of work for the project, supervising the building work, making sure the site is safe, and reporting on progress to the client who is paying for the work. Construction managers also supervise the preparation of the site and communicate with a wide range of people, including the public and professionals such as architects, engineers, estimators and surveyors. The work usually involves daily contact with the site workforce and frequent meetings with subcontractors.

Entry level

There are several possible training routes. You could, for example, take a three- or four-year degree in a relevant subject such as construction, building, construction or building management, building studies or technology; you could take a foundation degree or a full- or part-time higher national certificate or diploma (HNC/D) in a similar subject; or you could start as a building technician, estimator or clerk of works and study part-time for additional qualifications.

For degree course entry, you would normally need at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A*-C/1-3), or equivalent qualifications. Maths and science are often required. You may be interested in the Inspire scholarship scheme, which offers sponsorship funding of up to £1,000 per year, over a maximum three years. This funding is then matched by a sponsoring employer.  The programme offers the opportunity to gain a valuable insight into the reality of working in the construction sector through industry placements and employer mentoring.

Making the grade

Following your academic training, you could work towards professional qualifications awarded by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or the Association of Building Engineers. Some employers provide time off for study during training. CIOB Site Supervision and Site Management qualifications are available at Level 3 Site Supervisory Studies and Level 4 Site Management.

If you enter the industry as a graduate, with or without a relevant degree, you can enrol on the CIOB Graduate Diploma/Professional Development Programme and work towards the professional Chartered Builder qualification, which can prove important for career progression.

Experienced construction managers can become contract managers or directors of companies. It is possible to become self-employed, particularly in specialist areas of the work. There are also opportunities in teaching and research, and support services such as health and safety.

Personal qualities

As a construction manager, you would need to apply all your knowledge of construction techniques to ensure that each project is completed to time, on budget and safely. You would have to be able to motivate people and would need excellent communication skills. You would also have to be able to stay calm when things don't go quite as planned. Other people would expect to rely on your judgement. Your decisions would need to be based on your knowledge of technical, legal and health and safety factors but above all on practical common sense and experience. You may find yourself working under pressure when, for example, materials fail to arrive or schedules start to slip.

Looking ahead

The demand for construction managers depends to a great extent on the state of the national economy, and the picture in 2011 is no more than moderately encouraging, as the nation and the construction industry slowly recover from the severe downturn of 2008-10. Forecasts suggest that demand for homes and industrial, office, retail and leisure facilities will eventually pick up again.

There may be opportunities to work overseas, sometimes gained through internal promotion after experience with a large contractor in the UK.

Alternative suggestions

Other possibilities might include architect, building services engineer, civil engineer, estate agent, quantity surveyor, surveyor or town planner.

Take-home pay

As a graduate, you could expect to start on a salary of about £23,000 to £27,000, depending to some extent on where in the country you are working.  This can be raised by allowances for being on site or for travelling. Experienced construction managers can expect to earn between £33,000 and £45,000, rising to around £70,000 for a senior manager. Salaries tend to be higher in London.

Extra benefits may include a car and expenses.

Effects

The standard working week is around 38 hours, Monday to Friday, but evening and weekend work may be needed to complete some jobs. A large part of the work will be outdoors on site, in all kinds of weather.

Some construction managers move from location to location as one project is completed and a new one starts. This may mean staying near the site and coming home at weekends.

Sources of information

Association of Building Engineers: www.abe.org.uk
Chartered Institute of Building: www.ciob.org.uk
Construction Skills: www.cskills.org
Institute of Clerks of Works: www.icwgb.org  
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors: www.rics.org


 

 

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