Certification Qualifications Enhance Market Value

I often peruse the job postings for Construction Managers to get a feel for the state of the construction industry. The job descriptions offer me clues as to the type of construction that is prevalent and the geographic locations with active projects. I also pay attention to the qualifications employers are looking for, particularly specific skills or certifications. Last month I discussed one such skill, BIM (Building Information Modeling), and certification, LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

BIM is an intelligent CAD based system used to plan, design, build, and manage building construction. Buildings are drawn in 3D allowing designers and planners to coordinate and visualize how the buildings will be constructed. Coordination issues can be addressed during design rather than during construction resulting in a more efficient construction process. BIM also incorporates a 4th and 5th dimension; scheduling and costs. Scheduling and cost data generated during the design is monitored and modified by Construction Managers throughout the construction project. The rich set of data produced during design and construction continues to be used to maintain the building throughout its lifecycle.

LEED certified designers use BIM to model building performance utilizing building data cross referenced with local weather information. Designers and owners use the resulting data to choose products and practices that meet their sustainability goals. Industry experts predict the demand for LEED certified buildings will continue to rise and BIM will have a corresponding increase in use and demand.

I recently read a job listing that listed experience with Lean Construction as a qualification. Jim Womack, Ph.D., a researcher from MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program used the term “lean” to describe Toyota’s manufacturing processes in the late 1980’s. Since then Lean principles have been widely adopted by the manufacturing industry. The Lean Construction Institute has been promoting the use of Lean in the construction industry since 1997. Lean Construction is an approach rather than a specific process. The basic principle of Lean Construction is adding value to construction by eliminating waste. Employing BIM is one method of reducing waste. Another method to reduce waste is Pull Scheduling, a collaborative team effort that involves creating short term schedules based on input from all the trade contractors and suppliers. Lean Construction relies on contracts that promote innovation, collaboration, and productivity by focusing on a relationship between the owner, designer and constructor that shares both risk and rewards.

I am a certified PMP (Project Management Professional). I earned the certification by demonstrating a proficiency through testing and practical experience in the 44 project management process contained in the Project Management Institutes’ PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge). A PMP certification is a very common qualification for project managers but less common for construction managers. However, Lean Construction advocates the application of the PMBOK processes to add value to the construction process.

Many Colleges and Universities incorporate LEED, BIM, Lean, and the PMBOK processes into their curriculum and course offerings. When considering a school and a career in construction I believe it is wise to align your objectives with the objectives of the industry by examining trends in certification requirements. A search of job postings will reveal what employers are looking for and a search of educational institutes will provide you with courses that courses that contribute to certification knowledge. The goal of education is to gain knowledge but it is essential that the knowledge be applicable to the needs of the construction industry.

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