How to Make The Jump From Construction Worker to Project Manager
Construction continues to be a lucrative field for those willing to put in the work and stay up-to-date on the latest tools, procedures, and safety measures. While working in construction trades can be a stable career, it is a demanding one. For many, this is a great place to start but isn’t the final goal.
Construction management is a rewarding career that can last a lifetime. Whether you are just testing your interest in construction or you’ve already been working in this field, becoming a project manager doesn’t have to be a difficult career transition. Project managers are responsible for overseeing multiple construction projects, ensuring that the job is completed on time and within budget. When you are ready to make the jump, here are some things to know about how to become a construction project manager.
A Typical Day as a Project Manager
Construction management allows an individual to play an active role in overseeing a project in its entirety, from an idea to completion. When you take on the role of a project manager, you’ll typically find yourself preparing cost estimates, developing work schedules, keeping the client updated and informed, and meeting with architects and engineers to confirm blueprints. In addition, you’ll meet with electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other service industries to acquire the permits you need and ensure safety procedures are being followed.
A project manager also has to be able to adapt to the unexpected, whether it’s work delays, material delays, cost increases, inclement weather, or emergencies. This is a demanding but rewarding career where a project manager understands they may need to work long days and be on-call at a moment’s notice.
How to Become a Project Manager
A project manager should have a broad understanding of all the steps in a construction process. It is crucial to have problem-solving skills, people skills, an ability to multitask, and the capability to see both the small and large pictures of the project. A project manager is essentially at the center of everything. Clients, employees, contractors, and anyone else involved in the project will rely on you to provide guidance. Leadership abilities are key when it comes to becoming a project manager in the construction industry.
If you know this is the career path for you, there are a few steps you should take to go from construction worker to project manager. Having both the relevant education and experience are the first steps to building a successful career in construction management.
There are a couple of different routes a person can take to achieve this desired career. Some choose to first go to college to earn a bachelor’s degree in construction science, architecture, construction management, engineering, or another related subject. Following their college career, they seek out the profession immediately. Others may start out working in the construction industry in a different role, such as an administrator or craftsperson.
Regardless of what path you choose, education and experience are both necessary foundations. Most will be expected to complete formal training in construction management, which could range from a certificate to a master’s degree.
Field training is important in ensuring a person is completely comfortable with the demands put on a project manager. This usually includes getting hands-on training from an experienced project manager. You’ll often start by processing paperwork, surveying locations, helping with day-to-day operations, and getting the real-world experience of a live construction site. Learning the foundation of construction is fundamental in the journey to growing into the role of a project manager.
How Long Will It Take?
Becoming an effective project manager often takes time due to the demands of both education and experience. Some focus on their education first, waiting to earn their certificates and degrees before getting practical experience. Others will choose to tackle both aspects of this career at once, enrolling in school while also working on construction sites in whatever roles possible.
With that being said, it could take several years for a person to gain all the experience, knowledge, and skills to handle the complex demands of this role. However, some can work their way up quickly depending on their training, degree and achievements. There is no set amount of time it could take to become a project manager, but you can make sure you don’t waste any time by staying focused, working hard, and seeking opportunities that will set you up for long-term success.
Stay Focused on Your End Goal
Becoming a project manager takes a blend of education and hard work. It’s a demanding but rewarding career that requires formal education and on-the-job experience to ensure you are completely ready. A project manager has an immense amount of responsibility on their shoulders, but with the right foundation and commitment, the jump from construction worker to project manager doesn’t have to feel impossible. For many, the best place to start is to explore your education options – finding the right construction program, like the Associate of Applied Science in Construction & Trades Management at AAI, can help elevate you through the ranks faster.