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With a degree in construction management, you can work in one of the largest industries in the world. Construction managers are influential in planning, coordinating, budgeting, and implementing public and private construction projects like bridges, roads, commercial buildings, homes, and more. You don’t need a degree to get started in the construction industry, but with a construction management education, you can qualify for better jobs and, in turn, make more money.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary you can expect with a degree in this field is $92,700, or $44.57 per hour. This data is from 2013, and is the most recent official estimate available. Most people in this industry make between $64,890 and $111,710, with the top ten percent earning over $146,000 annually. Keep in mind that many people in this industry work for themselves as small business owners, though, so when it comes to earning potential, the sky is the limit. Some contractors with larger teams make millions of dollars every year.
Your benefits package should also be considered when comparing career options in this field. While you can sometimes make more money working for yourself, as someone who is self-employed you won’t get the same perks that come with a salaried position, like paid health insurance and vacation days. The graph below, from The Bureau of Labor Statistics, compares construction manager salaries with national averages and general management positions. The data used is from 2012, so the averages have changed slightly, but the overall relationship between the categories is well-represented.
In this industry, your location plays a huge role in the salary you can expect. This is the case in most fields, but in the construction industry, it is especially true, since the real estate market varies from location to location and greatly affects earning potential. The top states for construction management workers, in terms of highest average salary amounts, are as follows:
Jobs in cities generally pay more than jobs in more rural areas. The top metropolitan areas for construction managers include San Francisco, Edison-New Brunswick in New Jersey, Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton in New Jersey, Bridgeport-stamford-Norwalk in Connecticut, and Atlantic City. Want to live somewhere more rural? Check out Northwestern and Eastern Washington, Northeastern Virginia, Coastal Oregon, and Far Western Pennsylvania, which are all locations where you can earn six-figure salaries with a degree in construction management.
Working in construction management offers diverse options for career change and growth. If you’re looking for more authority or better pay, or just want a different set of daily activities from your current job, it’s a safe bet you’ll be able to find what you want with a construction management degree. Some other career paths for someone with a degree or experience in this field include:
The above careers all require some additional education on top of construction management experience, but they pay well and are definitely in the same general field. All salary info is courtesy of The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Construction managers spend a lot of time outside overseeing the work being done on a building. The job requires a lot of physical strength and stamina, as well as leadership skills and the ability to coordinate many facets of a project over an extended period of time without letting important steps fall through the cracks. The logistical aspect of this job is enormous, but also brute force and the ability to do physical labor are important. Some of the regular activities required of construction managers include:
Construction managers have many other duties as well as those listed above, and the training you receive in a construction management degree program can help you learn to juggle all of them at once.
While the average salary of construction managers is already great, at $92,700 per year, there is always room for salary growth if you’re willing to work for it. The top ten percent of workers in this field earn more than $146,000 per year, over four times the average income for all occupations. Getting to this top echelon of earners will require years of hard work, but if you love your career, that shouldn’t be an issue.
Two paths that are likely to lead to a higher salary in this field are starting your own company and getting further education in a related field. A construction manager who also has architectural drafting experience will earn more than one without. As your own boss, you can manage overhead costs and choose your hours, and that gives you more control over your total salary.
Starting your own construction management company won’t be easy. But if you study the field and seek internships and work experience, you’ll naturally develop professional contacts that you can use when starting your business. This won’t immediately lead to better pay, but will pave the way for you to control your time and choose the kind of work you want to do, which is a reward all its own.
Many people entering college for the first time aren’t totally sure about which path they want to take. It can be difficult to make what feels like a career choice when you still have years of college left to go. Most colleges help with this by offering courses with broader interest and applicability early in the program, and not getting into career-specific classes later on. However, this can be a drawback if you’re absolutely certain about the career you want to follow. If this is the case for you, consider a technical or vocational school that does not include liberal arts standards like English and the humanities with its construction management degree program.
One way to make choosing a program easier is to talk to a few people in the various fields you are considering, and possibly visit some of them at work sites, to see which is the most appealing in practice. Once you’ve decided to pursue construction management, applied management, architecture, or another passion, you can use the links on this site to get in touch with schools that offer those programs. They can help you find scholarships and other financial aid, and you can take a few classes to see how school feels before committing to the whole program. Higher education is flexible that way, especially now that so many degree programs are offered partially or entirely online.
Construction management is a rewarding career in that it has tangible results that you can look at and feel proud of, and it pays very well compared to most occupations.