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What Does a Construction Manager Do?

What Does a Construction Manager Do?

The construction industry is expected to continue growing. Everywhere you turn, there are signs of new development: bridges arching over waterways, airports expanding to accommodate more travelers, schools rising to meet educational demands, apartment complexes sprouting up to house growing populations, highways stretching farther than ever, hospitals widening their doors for better healthcare, and sports arenas echoing with the cheers of fans. These projects are vital to societal growth and require meticulous planning and execution. At the heart of these complex construction processes lies the pivotal role of the Construction Manager.

The field of construction management is dynamic and challenging, involving a deep understanding of construction methods, from the initial drafting of blueprints to the final stages of project completion. A Construction Project Manager can be essential in steering these developments toward success. They are the linchpins in ensuring that every facet of the project adheres to a precise schedule, budget, and quality standards. The Construction Manager’s expertise in various construction methods and their ability to orchestrate the many moving parts of construction processes are what make the seamless transformation of sketches on paper into towering structures possible.

Join us at Everglades University as we delve into the critical, thrilling field of construction management. Here, potential future leaders are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage and lead construction projects of any scale, ensuring that they not only meet the expectations but exceed them, safely and efficiently.

So, what does a Construction Manager do?

Construction managers play a crucial role in orchestrating the many facets of building and infrastructure projects, ensuring everything aligns from the design phase to the ribbon cutting. Here’s a detailed look at some of their responsibilities:

  • Planning the Entire Project: The job of construction managers starts in the design phase, where they develop detailed construction schedules, set critical milestones, and map out the entire project timeline. This strategic planning is essential for any successful construction project.
  • Hiring and Managing Subcontractors and Staff: Construction managers are responsible for assembling a construction crew that can deliver high-quality work. They hire and manage both subcontractors and direct staff, ensuring the team is capable, coordinated, and efficient.
  • Preparing Budgets: They create detailed cost estimates that maximize resource allocation. By managing finances wisely, construction managers ensure the project stays within budget without compromising on quality.
  • Collaboration with Architects and Engineers: Construction managers frequently collaborate with construction engineers and architects to ensure that the architectural designs are practical and that construction activities adhere to planned blueprints.
  • Contract Negotiation: They negotiate contracts with suppliers, subcontractors, and laborers, ensuring that all terms support the project’s scope, timeline, and budget.
  • Safety Assurance: Ensuring compliance with safety regulations is a key responsibility. Construction managers implement rigorous safety codes and conduct regular safety meetings to keep the construction site free from accidents.
  • Legal Compliance: They ensure all construction activities comply with local and federal construction laws, which includes obtaining all necessary work permits.
  • Emergency Response and Delay Management: Construction managers are also the first line of defense in handling emergencies or delays, applying their leadership skills and risk management strategies to mitigate impacts on the construction schedule.
  • Quality Control: They are tasked with ensuring that all aspects of the construction meet the quality standards set in the contract, inspecting construction sites regularly to oversee the work being done.
  • Reporting and Communication: Reporting to the construction or property owner is a fundamental duty. Construction managers maintain clear and constant communication about progress, challenges, and changes.

According to the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), the responsibilities of a Construction Manager can be categorized into six areas: tasks, cost, time, contracts, quality, and safety. This comprehensive approach to construction project management ensures that projects are completed successfully, safely, and within the required specifications and deadlines.

Project Management

Before embarking on any construction project, it is crucial for the Construction Manager to meticulously plan each stage to mitigate potential issues. This planning involves creating detailed plans that are typically divided into five distinct phases:

  • Pre-Design: This initial phase involves assessing project feasibility, setting preliminary objectives, and conducting site analyses. The groundwork laid here sets the tone for the entire project.
  • Design: During this phase, detailed construction plans are developed. Architects and engineers collaborate to create the technical blueprints that will guide the entire construction process.
  • Procurement: This phase focuses on acquiring all necessary materials, equipment, and labor. Construction Managers ensure that procurement aligns with project timelines and budgets, leveraging their expertise in construction project management.
  • Construction: The actual building begins during this phase. Construction managers utilize construction management software to oversee all onsite activities, ensure adherence to safety standards, and keep the project on track.
  • Post-Construction: After construction concludes, this phase includes final inspections, resolving any deficiencies, and ensuring the new structure meets all regulatory compliance and quality standards. The project is formally closed out and handed over to the owner.

Each phase requires specific tasks and milestones, which are meticulously agreed upon by the Construction Manager, the project owner, and other key stakeholders to ensure a smooth progression of the project.

Given the complexity and critical nature of these tasks, Everglades University offers specialized courses tailored to aspiring construction managers. Courses such as Project Management for Construction and Managing a Construction Project equip students with the skills to effectively use construction management software and implement best practices in construction project management. These courses are designed to help prepare graduates not just to participate in, but to lead construction projects successfully.

Cost Management

A crucial task for Construction Managers is developing a detailed budget that aligns with the project schedule, helping to prevent construction delays and the misallocation of resources. Experienced Construction Managers understand that while the goal is to account for all expected expenses, it’s equally important to reserve a contingency budget for unforeseen circumstances, ensuring the project remains cost-effective.

The comprehensive budget should cover three main categories of costs:

  • Hard Costs: These are directly related to the physical construction of the project. Examples include:
    • Excavation and site preparation
    • Plumbing installations
    • Window and door fittings
    • HVAC systems
    • Mechanical and electrical services
  • Soft Costs: These costs are not directly tied to physical construction but are essential for supporting the project. They include:
    • Legal fees
    • Architectural and design fees
    • Management fees
    • Insurance premiums
    • Financing costs such as interest on loans
    • Taxes associated with the construction process
  • Site Costs: Specific to the location of the project, these costs involve:
    • Land acquisition costs
    • Surveying fees
    • Permit fees necessary for legal compliance
    • Environmental compliance measures, ensuring the project adheres to local environmental regulations

Each category of costs requires detailed tasks and meticulous planning to control costs effectively. By integrating these financial strategies into their courses, Everglades University prepares its students to manage budgets efficiently, ensuring that every construction project not only meets its intended scope but does so within the financial parameters set out from the start. This approach helps future Construction Managers minimize construction delays and manage projects in a cost-effective manner.

construction managers job description

Construction Managers must keep their projects on track.

Time Management

Time management is pivotal in construction, impacting everyone involved from architects and project owners to contractors and lenders. Construction Managers are tasked with creating realistic timelines for each phase of the project, ensuring that everything progresses smoothly and efficiently.

To effectively manage time, Construction Managers must:

  • Establish Clear Timelines: Define specific durations for the pre-design, design, procurement, construction, and post-construction phases. This structured approach helps in predicting project flow and setting expectations for all stakeholders.
  • Develop Mitigation Plans: It’s essential to have contingency plans for potential delays. These plans involve identifying likely risks, such as supply chain issues or unexpected site conditions, and determining appropriate responses to keep the project on track.
  • Comply with Building Codes: A deep understanding of government building codes is crucial for maintaining project timelines. For instance, failing to adhere to these codes can lead to significant delays, as projects might need reevaluation or redesign to meet compliance.
    • Plumbing codes can affect the layout and number of restrooms and water fountains.
    • Environmental regulations may dictate the specifications for HVAC systems.
  • Educational Preparation: The “Codes and Standards” course in our Construction Management program is designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge to understand and navigate various building codes. This education is essential for making informed planning decisions that adhere to legal standards and keep construction projects on schedule.

Contract Administration

A key responsibility of Construction Managers is to ensure that the contracts accurately reflect the final product. This involves precise agreement drafting and vigilant oversight throughout the project’s lifecycle. Everglades University provides specialized courses such as Construction Contracts and Construction Law that help equip graduates with the skills necessary to manage these critical aspects effectively.

Construction Managers must address several important considerations regarding contract management:

  • Contractor Evaluation and Selection: Determining how contractors will be evaluated and chosen is crucial. This includes setting clear criteria based on the contractor’s past performance, financial stability, quality of work, and ability to meet deadlines.
  • Oversight and Approval of Work: Construction Managers need to establish who is responsible for approving and directing the work of each contractor. This role involves regular site visits, meetings, and consultations to ensure that the work aligns with the project specifications and standards.
  • Monitoring and Reporting: It is essential to define how the contractor’s performance will be monitored and reported. This might involve regular progress reports, performance metrics, and real-time monitoring tools to ensure accountability and transparency.
  • Inspections: Specifying what types of inspections should be performed at various stages of the project helps identify and rectify potential issues early. These inspections ensure compliance with the project specifications, building codes, and safety regulations.
  • Payment and Financial Audits: Clearly defining how each contractor will be paid and financially audited is crucial to maintaining fiscal discipline and preventing budget overruns. This includes detailed payment schedules, retention terms, and conditions for final payments after satisfactory completion of work.
  • Record Management: Construction Managers also need to decide how various records, such as contract documents, correspondence, change orders, and other project-related documents, will be managed. Effective record-keeping is vital for legal compliance, dispute resolution, and maintaining organized documentation throughout the project.

Quality Management

Ensuring high standards of quality is a fundamental duty of the Construction Manager. Implementing rigorous quality controls throughout the project is essential to prevent construction defects and other potential building failures. Given the complexity and the number of parties involved in a typical construction project, rigorous attention to quality cannot be overlooked.

Here are some of the key aspects of quality management that a Construction Manager handles:

  • Clarifying Scope of Work: One of the first steps in quality management is defining and clarifying the scope of work with the project owner. This involves detailed discussions to ensure that the project objectives, specifications, and expectations are clearly understood and agreed upon by all parties involved.
  • Approval Processes for Contractor Work: Establishing clear processes for approving work performed by contractors is crucial. This might include setting predefined standards and benchmarks that the work must meet before it is accepted. Regular meetings and communications with contractors to discuss progress and any issues that arise are also vital to maintaining quality standards.
  • Inspection Schedules: Developing and maintaining a stringent inspection schedule is essential. These inspections help ensure that the construction adheres to the agreed specifications, building codes, and safety standards. Inspections are typically performed at critical milestones throughout the project lifecycle to catch and correct any deviations or defects early on.
  • Systems to Ensure Consistency: Implementing systems to ensure consistency across various teams and stages of the project is another key aspect of quality management. This might include standardized reporting formats, regular training sessions for new team members, and continuous oversight to ensure that all parts of the project align with the overall goal.
  • Continuous Improvement: Quality control also involves a commitment to continuous improvement. This means regularly reviewing processes, receiving feedback from team members and stakeholders, and implementing changes to improve efficiency and outcomes.

Safety Management

Worker safety is paramount on any construction site, and it is a top priority for Construction Managers to minimize potential risks and ensure a secure working environment. Effective safety management not only protects workers but also maintains project efficiency and compliance with industry standards. Here’s how Construction Managers work to safeguard their teams:

  • Monitoring for Hazards: Construction Managers proactively monitor the project to detect any potential hazards. This involves regular walkthroughs of the construction site, the use of safety audits, and the implementation of hazard detection technologies. By identifying risks early, measures can be taken to mitigate them before they lead to accidents.
  • Protecting the Surrounding Area: Ensuring that both the surrounding area and the public are protected from the dangers of the construction site is critical. This includes implementing secure barriers, proper signage, and other safety measures to keep unauthorized personnel out and to minimize the risk of injury to pedestrians and nearby residents.
  • Safety Training and Education: Providing comprehensive safety training and education to all construction workers is a cornerstone of effective safety management. This training covers a wide range of topics, from the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and machinery operation to emergency response procedures and hazard communication.
  • Compliance with OSHA Regulations: Managing the project in strict accordance with the rules and regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is essential. OSHA standards are designed to ensure workplace safety and health. Construction Managers must ensure that all aspects of the construction process, from planning to execution, adhere to these regulations to prevent accidents and legal complications.

What types of projects does a Construction Manager work on?

Construction Managers can choose to specialize in a particular area or manage projects across sectors.


If the construction is for housing people, equipment or supplies, it would fall under this category. Single family homes, apartment buildings, and townhouses are examples. For new home construction, such as a development, this includes the installation of utilities such as electricity and water and sewer, as well as paving.

Institutional and Commercial Building

Typically, commercial and institutional building projects such as retail stores, shopping centers, and skyscrapers are commissioned by a private owner or company. Schools, medical facilities and sports arenas are often managed and paid for by both local and national government agencies.

Specialized Industrial Construction

Oil refineries, nuclear power plants, and steel mills are categorized under specialized industrial construction. Obviously, this requires a high degree of specialization and technological skill in construction, planning, and design. It’s usually carried out by industrial or for-profit corporations.

Infrastructure and Heavy Construction

Highways, tunnels, transit systems, bridges and overpasses, pipelines and drainage systems are examples of this category. This type of construction is typically managed by large private corporations and government agencies.

Where does a Construction Manager work?

The Construction Manager’s work location depends upon the status of their projects. They may have a main office but usually work from a field office at the construction site. This enables them to monitor the project more closely, be accessible to their team, and make daily decisions about construction activities. If they have multiple projects, travel between them is necessary.

what are the responsibilities of a construction manager

The Construction Manager collaborates with architects and engineers.

Who does the Construction Manager work for?

While a Construction Manager may work for a construction contracting firm, government agency or an architectural or engineering firm, approximately 75% are self-employed. Self-employed Construction Managers must know how to generate their own business opportunities, market their services, bid on jobs, and work on a wide variety of projects. Here at Everglades University, we’ve recognized this trend and incorporated courses like Managing a Construction Business and Accounting Principles in our bachelor’s program so our graduates are better prepared upon graduation.

Who does the Construction Manager work with?

Construction Managers work with a variety of construction specialists. They coordinate with architects and engineers early in the planning process and as needed for consultation. During construction, they oversee trade workers such as stonemasons, electricians, metal workers, plumbers, painters, landscapers, carpenters, and excavators. They also interact with lawyers and local government officials to obtain licenses and permits required by building code regulations.

For exceptionally large projects, there might be multiple Construction Managers who need to coordinate with each other. Often, each manager is responsible for a specific construction phase, such as foundation preparation, land clearing, and installation of electrical, plumbing, and sewer.

What personal qualities does a Construction Manager have?

Now that you’ve learned about what a Construction Manager does, it’s helpful to know if your personality is well suited to this career. Here are a few personal qualities that you’ll need to have (or actively develop) to succeed as a Construction Manager.

Excellent Communication

Construction Managers are the hub of the project. Everyone on the team looks to them for direction, instruction, and priorities. Good writing and speaking skills are critical when communicating with employees, writing proposals, coordinating subcontractors, procuring materials, and dealing with clients. Everglades University ensures that you get the foundation to be a good communicator, with requirements in English, Communications, Psychology, and Speech.

Calm Under Pressure

Construction Managers cannot be easily rattled by change or surprises. They must be on call to respond to emergencies, work around construction delays, and handle inclement weather. Construction Managers frequently work long hours, especially when a deadline needs to be met, or there’s a delay.

Willingness to Learn

The field of construction management is always evolving, whether through new construction materials, advancements in sustainability, or methods of managing projects. To excel in this industry, you must have an open mind and be willing to continue learning. You may want to pick up the latest must-read books in construction management or network with your peers.

What education does a Construction Manager have?

While valuable, work experience alone is not enough. Both clients and employers demand that Construction Managers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in construction management or a related discipline, like civil engineering. The industry has recognized that the increasing complexity of construction projects requires a comprehensive higher education. Sophisticated technology, new standards for buildings and construction materials, worker safety, energy efficiency, environmental protection, and legal risk potential have further complicated the construction process.

Construction Managers need extensive training in business and management applications and law, regulations, planning, design, theory, and methods used in the construction field.

While knowledge of construction skills and practices is needed, construction managers also need to work with all employees, vendors, and the local government. Excellent communication skills are vital to this position, along with the ability to solve conflicts and problems quickly. The ability to foresee issues that could come along in the future is a skill that can significantly increase your success at climbing the construction management ladder.

A Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Everglades University provides the education required by today’s employers and clients. Students in the construction management program take a wide variety of classes to prepare them for their first job site. Some of these classes include:

  • OSHA Standards
  • Construction Estimating
  • Macroeconomics
  • Mechanical/Electrical Systems
  • Accounting Principles
  • Codes and Standards
  • Soil Mechanics for Construction
  • Business  Ethics
  • Construction Cost Estimating
  • Construction Scheduling
  • Statics and Strength of Materials
  • Construction Law
  • Concrete Masonry Design in Construction

degree in construction management

Enroll in Everglades University And Gain Invaluable Knowledge of The Construction Industry

Becoming a Construction Manager means wearing many hats and mastering numerous aspects of the construction process to ensure projects run smoothly and are completed on schedule. This career is not just about managing timelines and budgets; it’s about leading teams, enhancing safety, ensuring quality, and overcoming daily challenges on the path to building impressive structures.

Suppose you’re looking for a career that is as challenging as it is rewarding and offers endless opportunities to impact communities and landscapes around you. In that case, construction management might be the perfect fit. At Everglades University, we equip our students with the comprehensive knowledge and practical skills to help them excel in this dynamic field.

Are you ready to build your future and contribute to shaping the world around us? Enroll in Everglades University today to learn more about construction management and start your journey in this exciting industry.

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