Construction Manager

    If you are wondering how to become a construction manager, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the building industry, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Construction managers, also known as site managers or site agents, supervise and direct operations on a construction project to make sure it is completed safely, on time and within budget.

    As a manager on smaller sites, you would often have sole responsibility for the whole project. On larger sites, you may be in charge of a particular section, reporting to the senior manager. If you work as a senior construction manager, you may oversee several construction projects at the same time.

    Typical responsibilities:

    meeting with architects, surveyors, planners and buyers before building work starts
    planning work schedules for the job, using project management software packages
    preparing the site by hiring staff, installing temporary offices and taking delivery of materials
    working closely with the site workforce
    monitoring progress, costs and checking quality
    making sure work meets legal requirements and Building Regulations
    reporting regularly to the client.
    As a construction manager, you would also be the main point of contact for subcontractors and the public.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good construction managers include:

    excellent people skills to work with staff at all levels
    the ability to motivate your team
    excellent organisational and planning skills
    the ability to take on responsibility and make decisions
    good numeracy and IT skills
    an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of building methods
    an understanding of Building Regulations and health and safety requirements
    an awareness of the environmental issues surrounding carbon reduction in the industry.

    How to become a construction manager
    To start as a trainee construction manager, you normally need a BTEC HNC/HND or a degree, or several years’ experience within the industry. There are a lot of courses available that can help to prepare you with the skills and knowledge needed for the job, such as:

    building studies and building engineering
    surveying and civil engineering
    construction engineering management
    building management.
    To search for colleges and universities offering these courses, visit the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website. Please check with the individual colleges and universities for their entry requirements.

    You may be able to get sponsorship from an employer to help you with the cost of studying. This normally covers university fees and a grant for living expenses. Once you complete the course, your sponsoring company would normally take you on full-time. You can contact companies directly to find out about sponsorship opportunities.

    You may also be able to get into this area of work after gaining experience, for example, as a technician or site supervisor. For more details about these jobs, see the job profiles for Building Technician and Clerk of Works.

    ConstructionSkills has information on construction careers and qualifications. The construction trades are also being promoted as a career choice for women through the Know Your Place campaign.

    Training and Development
    As a trainee construction manager, you often start on your employer’s own training programme. These are designed to give you experience in a number of work areas, for example estimating, planning, buying and assisting a site engineer. Once you have built up your experience, you would move into construction management and take on more responsibility.

    If you are working in the industry and hold a degree unrelated to construction, you may be able to join the Chartered Institute of Building’s (CIOB) Graduate Diploma Programme. This allows you to follow a conversion route, aimed at giving you the skills and knowledge to take up construction management positions.

    The CIOB also has information on a range of training, covering all aspects of construction management, including project management, contracts, construction law and regulations.

    The CIOB, in partnership with the National House Building Council (NHBC), has information about work-related NVQs if you already work in the industry, such as:

    Construction Site Supervision Level 3
    Construction Site Management Level 4
    Construction Contracting at levels 3 and 4
    Construction Project Management Level 5.
    If you are working as an assistant manager or technician, you could follow NVQ options at levels 3 and 4 for technical staff, including estimating, planning and buying. These cover aspects of the construction process, such as tenders, procurement, construction problems and dispute resolution.

    Contact CIOB, NHBC and the Association of Building Engineers (ABE) for more details about work-based training programmes.

    Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
    By 2010, workers within the construction sector must have a CSCS card or be registered with a related scheme. Many construction firms and their clients already insist that you have a relevant CSCS card to work on site. You can contact CSCS or SkillsDirect for details about how to obtain your card.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Starting salaries are between £21,000 and £26,000.
    Experienced managers can earn between £27,000 and £37,000.
    Senior managers can earn over £40,000 a year.

    Job Prospects
    Climate change issues are playing an increasingly important role in the construction industry and this is likely to lead to more opportunities for in sustainable development and carbon reduction in materials, the supply chain and building methods.

    As a construction manager, you would normally work for building companies and specialist subcontractors. You might also find work with central and local government departments, utility companies and larger organisations like major retailers.

    As an experienced manager, you could progress into contract management, consultancy or become a company director. There are also opportunities in teaching and research, as well as support services, such as health and safety inspection.

    Useful building and construction resources:
    Chartered Institute of Building
    Kings Ride
    SL5 7TB
    Tel: 01344 630700

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