A construction management degree provides in-depth training tailored to the construction industry's unique demands. Learners develop professional capabilities related to scheduling, quality assurance, budgeting and cost management, and site safety to ensure successful projects.
The labor market looks bright for construction management job-seekers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects much-faster-than-average job growth of 8% for construction managers between 2019 and 2029. Additionally, construction managers earn median salaries of more than $95,000, adding to the field's appeal.
This guide describes the dynamic, fast-growing field so students can assess whether a construction management degree matches their personal and professional aspirations. This page can help you determine what is the best college for construction management for you.
What Is Construction Management?
For many years, construction professionals learned advanced skills through on-the-job training, gradually ascending into management positions. However, changing realities in construction, including financing, project scopes, and competitive bidding, highlighted a need for targeted academic instruction. Postsecondary institutions responded with specialized programs, including construction management bachelor's degrees.
People who succeed in this challenging field tend to share several key attributes. They possess excellent oral and written communication skills, dynamic and creative problem-solving skills, and the ability to meet deadlines. Construction managers need to delegate and prioritize tasks, manage team members, and keep morale and motivation high under pressure.
Construction managers control costs, keep projects on schedule, and ensure safety code and building requirement compliance. With rapid and ongoing urbanization, their safety-related skills and insights carry vital importance, accounting for their high demand and pay.
Career paths within the field feature both general and specialized profiles. Professionals who follow generalist study paths build versatile, transferable skill sets suitable for various roles. Specialist degrees develop deep knowledge and targeted proficiencies in niche areas, boosting their situational appeal.
Why Get a Bachelor's in Construction Management Degree?
Many people think on-the-job experience offers the primary path to construction career advancement. Entry-level laborers, contractors, and skilled tradespeople still advance, but management-level positions increasingly require higher education.
Beyond rewarding roles in a rapidly modernizing industry, a construction management bachelor's degree offers additional benefits:
- Specialized Learning: Construction management programs offer flexible learning opportunities with high customization potential. Through targeted electives and self-directed thesis or capstone coursework, degree-seekers differentiate themselves with specialized skills.
- Expedited Advancement: In addition to management role qualification, a construction management bachelor's degree can advance graduates into senior positions more rapidly.
- High Labor Market Demand: The BLS projects the need for construction managers to grow between 2019 and 2029 at rates significantly outpacing the average for all professions. A degree positions graduates to take full advantage of the projected demand for qualified construction management professionals.
What to Expect From Construction Management Programs
Most construction management degrees take four years to complete. Actual graduation timelines vary, depending on enrollment status and transferable credits. Most programs comprise about 40 standard semester-length courses or the equivalent, or approximately 120 credits.
Construction management students take core, elective, and thesis or capstone courses. Core classes build essential, universal proficiencies; electives offer specialization opportunities; and theses or capstones serve as culminating experiences.
Some institutions offer construction management as a specialization within project management, and configure their programs accordingly. Others offer formal concentration tracks in focused fields, such as residential, industrial, commercial, and infrastructural construction management. However, these more commonly apply to graduate programs.
Admission standards vary, but typically include a high school diploma, ACT or SAT scores, and a personal essay. Some schools prefer or require construction work experience. Education experts often recommend that candidates apply to multiple programs. If you choose to, the Common App tool makes tracking and managing applications easier.
Construction Management Bachelor's Degree Options
Most four-year undergraduate construction management programs confer a BS. More rarely, schools configure their programs to award a bachelor of management studies, but BS degrees function as the standard.
Many of the best construction management schools offer the degree as a standalone program, but some feature it as a concentration within project management. Both options offer their own unique value propositions. Dedicated construction management programs tend to feature deep, highly specialized course content. Construction concentrations in project management build adaptable skills that translate well to many process- and deadline-oriented roles.
Given that construction management already functions as a specialized discipline, undergraduate programs tend to limit concentration options. Some support concentrations in broad areas of professional practice, covering specific types of construction. Options include residential, industrial, commercial, high-density, and road and infrastructure construction. By and large, though, these types of specializations remain more common in master's programs.
Popular Bachelor's in Construction Management Courses
The best construction management degrees feature unique curricula, so course lineups vary. Prospective students should review course plans, including required, elective, and culminating experience courses, before applying. With these caveats in mind, consider these sample courses typically included in a construction management bachelor's degree:
- Site Safety Management: This core course introduces the industry-standard safety practices and strategies management-level professionals use. Students learn about methods for enhancing site safety beyond basic legal requirements. The class covers common elements of site, materials, and project safety codes at the federal, state, and municipal levels.
- Construction Methods: Typically in the first year, this course explores the common materials, systems, and equipment used in construction. Recognizing the foundational importance of the subject matter, some programs split this course into multiple modules. Programs sometimes deliver it across two semesters as a double course to ensure students master the associated concepts.
- Project Planning and Scheduling: Degree-seekers use both traditional and digital tools for planning and scheduling large-scale construction projects. Specific topics may include resource management and allocation, network diagramming, and information management and presentation. Participants study the parameters that typically define scheduling and planning tasks.
- Introduction to Environmental Science: Many construction materials and building methods create environmental impacts. Construction managers need to understand and consider these impacts when planning and executing projects. This elective course introduces the fundamentals of environmental chemistry, biology, and physics as they apply to the construction industry. The class empowers learners to advocate for more sustainable choices.
- Construction Accounting: Sometimes a core course, sometimes an elective, the class introduces methods and tools for tracking and costs. Typical focus areas include job costing, cost reporting, cost management systems, and financial statements.
What Construction Management Jobs Can a Bachelor's Get You?
Construction management jobs include multiple career paths, requiring either general or specialized knowledge. Bachelor's degree-seekers interested in specialized aspects of the profession usually prepare by taking relevant electives. Some choose to further develop particular skills by taking concentrated master's programs.
A bachelor's degree serves as a strong educational credential for those seeking to enter the job market. The construction industry has traditionally rewarded experience with advancement, and this remains true today. The following list explores some of the roles a construction management degree qualifies you for:
Land and site surveyors work in both field and office settings. They use precision equipment to make detailed observations and measurements on properties' physical characteristics. In many jurisdictions, surveyors must obtain licenses.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree plus licensure
- Job Outlook (2019-2029): +2%
- Median Annual Salary: $63,420
Construction managers oversee project planning, budgeting, coordination, scheduling, execution, and completion. Professionals generally ascend into this general management role after accruing significant experience in lower-level support positions.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree plus on-the-job training
- Job Outlook (2019-2029): +8%
- Median Annual Salary: $95,260
Project coordinators support senior construction managers, taking on field duties and responding to unexpected challenges and dynamic changes. Their main responsibilities include organizing, delegating, and liaising between site laborers and office-based management.
These professionals conduct audits of residential, industrial, and commercial structures to ensure regulation, ordinance, and zoning compliance. Many municipalities and states require licensure, obtained by passing a certification examination after acquiring detailed knowledge through schooling and on-the-job training.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree plus state or local licensure
- Job Outlook (2019-2029): +3%
- Median Annual Salary: $60,710
Drawing on their site management, project management, and administrative experience, site supervisors provide frontline leadership. They coordinate and oversee the activities of the various laborers, contractors, and professionals who contribute to construction projects.
- Required Education: Bachelor's degree plus on-the-job training
- Job Outlook: N/A
- Median Annual Salary: $64,070
Choosing Between Construction Management Programs
Many of the best construction management degrees feature similar curricula, so other factors may help prospective applicants choose a program. Depending on your perspective and career objectives, some of the characteristics you may want to consider include:
- University Resources and Career Services: Some schools offer better networking and recruiting opportunities than others. Consider the scope of the institution's career services along with statistics related to postgraduate placement rates.
- Delivery Format: Higher education increasingly appeals to learners seeking to upgrade their credentials while maintaining their current jobs. If this matches your situation, consider more flexible online and hybrid delivery formats that blend virtual and campus-based classrooms.
- Program Composition: Degree-seekers with particular interests specific to construction management should look for programs allowing exploration of them through core requirements, elective courses, and self-directed culminating experiences.
- Cost and Financial Aid: With all other considerations equal, more affordable costs and readily available financial aid may tip the balance in favor of a particular program.
Ensure any institution you consider holds regional accreditation from an agency the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes. Optional programmatic endorsements from organizations like the American Council for Construction Education or the Project Management Institute also enhance a program's prestige.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a construction management degree?
Earning a construction management bachelor's degree usually takes four years of full-time study. Accelerated programs or transferable credits can shorten the typical timeline.
Is it worth getting a construction management degree?
Well-paid construction management jobs typically require a bachelor's degree or many years of proven on-the-job experience. Earning a degree fast-tracks aspiring construction managers into relevant, rewarding career tracks.
What kinds of jobs can you get with a construction management degree?
Construction management bachelor's degree-holders find jobs as project coordinators, site surveyors, project managers, and building inspectors. Note that many senior management positions still require multiple years of industry experience.
What degree does a construction manager need?
For many years, employers considered experience and applicable skills more important than formal education. While this remains true in limited circles, employers increasingly prefer to hire bachelor's degree-holding candidates for entry-level roles.