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Project management: construction area of work

Project managers in the construction industry can oversee a project from inception to handover.

The aim of construction project management is to ensure that a project achieves its objectives to deadline and within budget. Each type of construction organisation, including construction management, civil engineering and surveying firms, will have its own project manager (PM) to oversee the project from their perspective and to report to their client.

If a project is commissioned in the traditional way, a consultancy’s PM will get involved at the design stage. A contractor’s PM will oversee construction work carried out.

Can I be a construction project manager as a graduate?

Some graduate employers (usually engineering firms) have a PM division or run a PM-specific graduate scheme. Graduates who join these will first be assigned to a project alongside an experienced project manager. While learning the ropes of project management, you may do some hands-on work to inform your understanding of the nature of the project and to enable you to manage others more effectively.

A more common route, especially in surveying and construction management, is to start out as a graduate in a particular role and work your way up to PM over a few years. This pathway offers the advantage of a good technical grounding to underpin your future decisions. But people skills remain more important than technical knowledge.

You should also be able to study for a professional qualification with the Association for Project Management (APM).

Graduates on the way up: skills construction project managers need

It’s possible to become a PM with any degree background but some companies may ask for specific degrees. In addition, you’ll need:

  • communication skills
  • time management skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • the ability to learn technical terminology and to read drawings and other technical information

A construction job for graduates who thrive on pressure

PM roles can be high pressured as project managers have the final say on much of the decision making – but you’ll also have the satisfaction of being in an instrumental position with real responsibility.

We’d like to thank Mott MacDonald for their help with this article.

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