All projects begin with the owners who create the basic idea then do their very best to explain it to the architect and engineers. It is the job of these highly-trained professionals to turn a simple idea into a real world design. After the design is complete, the architects and engineers submit it to the owner for approval. Once the final design is agreed upon, the project owner delivers it to the general contractor or builder who reviews it. The first task of the builder is to give the owner an estimate for how much the project will cost. If and when a price is agreed upon, the contractor can make arrangements to start work on the project immediately.
This is where the construction manager steps in.
So, what exactly does a construction manager do? A construction manager is a trained professional who acts as a proxy or substitute for the project owner. The owner may decide to hire a construction manager for a number of reasons. The most common reason why an owner might hire a manager is because he or she does not have the requisite experience in the field to bring the project to completion. In fact, if an owner has no background with design and construction projects, it is generally assumed that he will hire an experienced manager.
The level of involvement of a construction manager depends on how hands-on the project owner wants him to be. Oftentimes the manager will work directly with the designers and the builders and other times a manager will not be asked to control any of the construction plans. However, some of the more experienced managers are expected to oversee just about every aspect of the project, including the selection and hiring of design teams and builders as well as the finances.
Though it is a relatively new field, most project owners are aware of the benefits of having an experienced construction manager working on the project. To begin with, it is the job of the manager to make certain that a job comes in on time and hopefully under budget. This requires that the manager becomes intimately involved in the plans of all construction crews who are working on the project. Oftentimes, the manager will devise working schedules and will do their very best to make certain that delays are minimized.
As we mentioned, construction management is a relatively new field, but its popularity has been steadily growing. Most large colleges and universities offer courses or degrees in construction management or construction science, which is a related field. However, many managers decide that they do not want to be cooped up in a classroom all day and opt for an apprenticeship or on the job training. Since construction management is a profession that relies more on field experience than it does on classroom theories, not having a degree in the field usually doesn't hold qualified managers back. Still, it is always a good idea to have at least some academic experience in the field if you want to get your foot in the door.