What Project Managers Do
Project managers, also referred to as general contractors, construction site managers, construction superintendents, and other similar titles, oversee construction projects. They’re responsible for everything from the initial planning, all the way through completion, including things like budgeting and coordinating the efforts of multiple specialists/ subcontractors throughout the process. They may work for architecture firms, solo, for government agencies, and more, and may specialize in a particular type of project, such as residential, commercial, green structures, roads, or bridges.
Who would enjoy a career in Project Management?
Project managers have to have at least a general understanding of every phase of the building process in order to manage it and oversee the various specialists who are involved in the build. Budgeting, business, leadership, time-management, organization, and communication skills are necessary too.
Who mightn't like the career?
Project managers wear a lot of different hats depending on what stage a build is at, so those who can’t move quickly from one task to the next or who don’t have impeccable organization skills will not perform well. Despite the high level of technical expertise needed, it’s also a career that requires a lot of interaction with people, ranging from employees to other contractors and managers, and clients.
For this reason, those who don’t work well with the public or who struggle to convey thoughts don’t do well. Lastly, the job can be stressful because the success or failure of any project rests upon the planning of the project manager. Those who need more relaxed environments don’t tend to stay in the profession long.
Although project managers aren’t always required to be licensed, there are usually state, provincial, or federal laws governing some type of licensure. Prior to attaining this, most obtain a degree related to engineering, design, architecture, construction, or project management, and spend some time working in a construction career.
Interviews tend to focus on related work experience, such a previous projects, deliverables, accomplishments, and challenges.
Moving into Project Management from another career
Most people who transition into a construction project manager position come from a construction, engineering, or architecture background.
Assistant Project Manager
Role: Assistant project managers work under the direction of project managers. On any given day, they may help create estimates, visit sites and oversee construction, manage subcontractors, and communicate with the project manager, subcontractors, and clients.
Role: The project manager has a more hands-on role and is wholly responsible for the work performed by everyone under him. He looks over plans, creates estimates, hires subcontractors and employees, creates a budget, schedules, and coordinates projects in their entirety. Project managers also keep clients in the loop about how the build is progressing and addresses issues as they come up.
Project managers tend to work in a single geographic area.
Assistant Project Manager: Data from PayScale indicates that base salaries average USD $55,000 in the United States, ₤26,360, in the United Kingdom, CAD$58,353, in Canada, and AU$64,047 in Australia.
Project Manager: USD$73,000, £38,000, and CAD$73,000, and AU$97,000.
Profit sharing, commission, and bonuses can sometimes increase take-home pay by several thousand dollars per year.
Why Project Managers move on
Work as a project manager can take a physical toll on people, plus the stress and working conditions can make the job unpleasant at times. Although the industry standard is 40-50 hours of work per week, some project managers end up putting in as many as 90.
Oftentimes, people leaving the field start up their own general contracting firm or handyman business, or they may move into a specific construction-related job, such as plumbing or electrical work, but there are other opportunities as well.