Yes, we’ve all heard the dismal news about construction. That housing starts are down and the construction industry is reeling. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction manager jobs should rise steadily by as much as 17 percent from 2010 to 2020.
As a construction manager, you’ll plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from initial development to completion. Construction companies will be looking for candidates with work experience and a BS degree in a construction-related field. If you’ve been working for years in a construction trade, you may be able to land a manager’s job without the degree. Here, certification is strongly recommended.
The American Institute of Constructors (AIC) and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) have voluntary certification programs in construction management. In most cases, to gain certification, you’ll need to pass a written exam and verify your professional experience in the construction industry. AIC offers exams and certifications for Asscociate Constructor and Certified Professional Constructor.
CMAA has an online learning center that features a number of flexible computer-based education tools to help you advance your career. They also offer a Construction Manager In Training (CMIT) program, which has two phases:
The Capstone Assessment component provides a knowledge foundation in the history of construction management practices and procedures. You’ll have to read the Capstone publication and complete the online assessment. A passing grade of 80% earns you a CMIT designation and enrolls you in the CMIT Program.
The Mentor-Protege phase. You’ll be provided with a mentor who will offer guidance and support to keep you on track and ensure you get the project experience you need to qualify for certification. You and your mentor will create and manage development plans.
If you’re a veteran with GI Bill benefits, the VA will pay your certification exam fee. If you’re not already a member of these construction trade organizations, you should join. Membership fees are fairly reasonable. If you’re a student, the fees are low and are easily affordable.
As with most management careers, it helps if you know someone on the inside. Here, attending conferences and trade shows can be valuable in connecting you with working industry professionals. Both the CMAA and AIC have events where you can “press the flesh” and meet key people in the industry. They may not have a job opening right away, but they’ll remember you if you show a genuine interest in their company and projects. Getting on a first name basis with a working senior manager or VP can give you a leg up when these people are poring over resumes.
While consruction may be down in some sectors, the need for construction managers will be great in this decade. Education, on-the-job training and certification are your keys to break in.