How to become a construction manager
Traditionally, the term 'construction management' referred to a procurement route in which the construction works for a project were constructed by a number of different trade contractors, contracted to the client but managed by a construction manager. However, more recently the term has been used more broadly to refer to any role that relates to the management of construction activities.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) created a new profession of 'Chartered Construction Manager' in 2013, and they define construction management very widely as, 'Management of the development, conservation and improvement of the built environment'.
Construction managers are usually employed by building contractors and subcontractors to manage sections of work on a construction project. Construction manager opportunities may also arise with government departments, utility companies, and large companies such as major retailers who require a lot of construction and development work.
Typical duties of a construction manager include consulting with architects and surveyors to develop a project plan, developing schedules of work, overseeing day-to-day work, checking progress and quality, ensuring health and safety standards are maintained, and so on.
Generally, the minimum requirement is two A levels (or equivalent). Some colleges or universities may ask for two A level subjects including maths or physics, however, it is not always necessary for A levels to be in 'academic' subjects. Design technology is a popular A level choice.
 Vocational qualifications
Vocational qualifications are designed as preparation for a particular career. Vocational courses have typically been developed by industry bodies and employers, so what is learnt is relevant to the construction industry.
Courses tend to take place at further education colleges or at the new university technical colleges (UTCs). One of the benefits of vocational courses is that assessment is usually modular and project-based, which means there is less pressure to succeed in formal exams.
Vocational qualifications include; BTECs, NVQs, SVQs (in Scotland), and City & Guilds. These are equivalent to A-levels, which means they meet university entrance requirements for a BEng or MEng or a foundation degree, HNC or HND.
It is common for people to take Level 2 and/or Level 3 courses in construction and the built environment. For example, a Level 2 qualification can be achieved instead of five GCSE C grades or above, before then working up into a management position. Level 3 qualifications can be attained, as well as work experience, or progressing to a degree in a related subject.
There are a range of HNC and HND/diploma qualifications which would be useful in the following areas:
- Building studies and building engineering.
- Surveying and civil engineering.
- Construction engineering.
- Construction management.
The most common route into a construction management career is through university study. There are a large number of universities that offer various courses in construction management or related disciplines, many of which are accredited with professional institutions such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
It may be possible to secure sponsorship from an employer to assist with the student fees. The sponsoring company may provide the opportunity of an internship which offers valuable practical experience of the industry and role.
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