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Types of Construction Degrees

Graduates

In terms of average starting salary, graduate job placement, and hands-on technical training, an accredited construction management degree is one of the best investments you can make for your future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that with just a bachelor’s degree and minimal on-the-job training, you could easily be making over $85,000 a year or more as the lead on a construction site. That’s an amazing return on investment.

What types of construction degrees are available?

Traditionally, many people working in construction management began as a construction laborer or in the trades — carpenters, masons, plumbers, or electricians. The path for growth in the field was usually dependent on years of experience. However, as construction processes have become more complex, it’s increasingly important for individuals to have a degree to succeed in construction management. Numerous programs are available throughout the country.

Associate Degree Programs

More than 50 two-year colleges offer construction management or construction technology programs. An associate degree combined with work experience is usually enough for managers who supervise smaller projects and can help with your earning potential. While an associate degree in construction management is adequate to enter the field, most leadership positions require a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor Degree Programs

More than 100 colleges and universities offer accredited bachelor’s degree programs in construction management. A bachelor’s degree program is designed to equip students with skills and knowledge necessary to lead others and oversee project activities on construction sites. The fundamentals of construction science, new technologies, and the business aspects of the industry are covered. Students develop the strong communication and management skills necessary for administrative positions.

The bachelor’s degree is a smart investment if you know that you’d like to advance in the field of construction management. Employers and clients are increasingly making this a baseline requirement for management positions.

At Everglades University, our bachelor’s degree program also prepares graduates to sit for the LEED Green Associates exam in order to become a Certified LEED Green Associate, which indicates proficiency in today’s sustainable design, construction and operations standards.

Master Degree and PhD Programs

A few universities offer master’s degree and PhD programs in construction management. In addition to advanced education in new and expanding areas of construction programming, cost control and project management, most programs offer specializations in areas such as green technology, entrepreneurship, or environmental law. They may also focus on a particular type of construction like residential or commercial. Master’s degree recipients, especially those with work experience in construction, typically become Construction Managers for government entities, consulting firms, construction companies, or private developers.

Online Degree Programs

Students are increasingly turning to these types of construction degrees to gain hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge at the same time. Everglades University is one of a few accredited schools to offer a top construction management degree online. The availability of hybrid on-campus and online coursework makes Everglades University a great option for working students.

How can I be more competitive for jobs?

Certifications

Certification is not required to work within the industry. However, obtaining a voluntary certification from a trusted source can demonstrate competence to prospective employers or clients. Two certification programs are highly respected in the field.

The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) has established the Certified Construction Manager program. To be eligible, CMAA will consider a combination of professional and educational experience. For those without a degree, at least four years of consecutive work experience as the construction lead is required.

As CMAA states, “Because the CCM is accredited and internationally recognized, the CCM can be the difference between getting an interview and having your resume overlooked. Manage your experience and maintain your professionalism. The CCM is a sign of professional achievement and will help you exhibit to clients and supervisors you are dedicated to your profession and that you’ve mastered the critical knowledge of the latest construction management techniques.”

CMAA also offers the Construction Manager-in-Training (CMIT). This is a certificate program that helps aspiring CM professionals launch and develop a successful career into the construction management industry. It’s for:

  • Soon-to-be and recent graduates of an accredited Engineering, Architecture, or Construction Management degree programs
  • Working graduate degree candidates
  • Aspiring Construction Managers beginning their path to become a Certified Construction Manager
  • Experienced professionals dedicated to becoming a professional construction manager

There are also two certifications from the American Institute of Constructors. This program includes two levels of certification, the Associate Constructor (AC) and the Certified Professional Constructor (CPC). The Associate Constructor certification is ideal for recent graduates of 4-Year Construction Management Programs or those transitioning into construction management from other industries. The Certified Professional Constructor is ideal for established constructors who have several years of project oversight experience and seek to take their career to the next level.

 

Gaining real-world experience while you go to school gives you an edge in the job market.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Be sure to look for the types of construction degrees that offer internships or apprenticeships. If that’s not possible through your school, seek out part or full-time jobs in construction while you attend. This valuable work experience provides first-hand knowledge of construction site operations and can give you an edge when competing for jobs. Construction management firms may provide training to prospective managers to prepare them for advancement opportunities, but this isn’t always the case. In the construction industry, first-hand experience is vital.

Keep Learning

Stay on top of trends by joining the associations above, attending networking events, reading the latest construction management books, and following leaders in the industry. As noted above, take advantage of any opportunities for hands-on learning. This is critical in the construction management industry.

Why is it important to attend an accredited program?

The American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) sets strict standards for schools seeking accreditation. Its goal is to ensure that students feel confident they are obtaining a top-quality degree. It also certifies that graduates of accredited programs are prepared to make “lasting contributions” to the construction industry as professional, highly-knowledgeable constructors.

Accreditation councils use structured criteria of evaluation — both self-evaluation by the school and external evaluation by the accreditation body — to measure and ensure a school’s quality and achievement in teaching and student learning and current relevance to that program’s field.

Accreditation is also a vote of confidence for your future employer. They can be confident that applicants with degrees from ACCE-accredited programs have received a thorough education addressing all facets of construction management.

Everglades University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees.  

Where can I work with a construction degree?

Individuals with a construction management degree typically work for the following types of organizations:

  • Specialty trade contractors including plumbing, heating and air-conditioning and electrical contractors
  • Engineering, architectural, and construction management services firms
  • Local, state or federal government
  • Real estate developers

A large majority of Construction Managers are self-employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What kinds of jobs can I get with a construction degree?

Your ability to be competitive for these positions will depend on your work experience, level of education, and the size of the company or project. Over the next decade, the degree-holding applicant with experience will be best positioned to take advantage of these jobs and have upward mobility.

Positions may have overlapping names, so we’ve attempted to cluster them together or point out when the titles may be used in a different way. It often depends on the size of the company or project.

Construction Manager or Construction Superintendent or Construction Project Manager

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017

Median Pay: $91,370

Construction managers coordinate and supervise a wide variety of projects, including the building of all types of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, power plants, schools, and hospitals. The construction superintendent and the construction project manager roles are often intertwined. When the same person fulfills the responsibilities of both roles, they are simply called construction managers. If the roles are separate, the superintendent usually works with the construction crew, while the project manager is often a member of the administrative management staff.

Project Coordinator or Assistant Project Manager or Project Engineer

Payscale.com, 2017

Median Pay: $53,043

Some firms hire project manager assistants to help them gain experience. Assistants give the Construction Manager more time to work on the big picture and get involved if necessary.

Construction Supervisor or Foreman

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017

Median Income: $64,070

The foreman is a construction worker charged with organizing the overall construction of a project for a specific contractor. The pay is highly dependent on the type of construction and size of the project.

Construction or Building Inspector

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017

Median Income: $59,090

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Cost Estimators

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017

Median Income: $63,110

Cost estimators collect and analyze data to estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required to manufacture a product, construct a building, or provide a service. They generally specialize in a certain product or industry.

Health & Safety Engineers

Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017

Median Income: $88,510

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to protect people from illness and injury and property from damage. They combine knowledge of engineering and of health and safety to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products will not cause harm to people or damage to property.

Construction Administrators

Payscale.com, 2017

Median Income: $51,975

Construction administrators are often responsible for monitoring contracts, preparing progress reports, coordinating schedules, and processing invoices. Some administrators have additional project management duties; they may meet regularly with clients and supervise other staff members.

The job outlook for construction management is very positive.

What is the job outlook for careers in construction management?

Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 11 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. There are a few reasons for this trend.

  • Population and business growth will result in the construction of new office buildings, retail outlets, homes, hospitals, schools, restaurants, and other structures. Also, upgrades to our national infrastructure may spur employment growth as roads, bridges, and sewer pipe systems are upgraded or replaced.
  • A growing emphasis on retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient should create jobs for general contractors, who are more likely to manage the renovation and upgrading of buildings than oversee new large-scale construction projects. This creates an opening for those just entering the field.
  • Construction processes and building technology are becoming more complex, requiring greater oversight and creating demand for specialized management personnel.
  • Many construction managers (baby boomers) are expected to retire or leave the occupation over the next decade, resulting in further job openings.

 

With a bright job outlook, excellent salary, and rewarding day-to-day work, a degree in construction management is a solid investment in your future. Contact Everglades University for more information about our accredited bachelor’s program.