A construction management degree prepares students for careers in the field by honing skills in building design and planning, business operations, and material handling. Degree-seekers with interests in leadership, business, and technology may consider pursuing a construction management degree. With a bachelor’s, graduates gain skills that help them qualify for jobs as construction managers, cost estimators, and property managers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 8% increase in construction manager jobs from 2019-2029. This outpaces the national average for all occupations, making now a great time to pursue a career in the field.
What Is Construction Management?
Recognized since the 1960s, the construction management profession includes job titles like general contractors or project managers. With a bachelor’s degree, graduates may also pursue career paths as construction cost estimators or property managers.
Often self employed, construction managers spend their days on construction sites. Top employers include specialty trade contractors, residential and nonresidential building construction, and heavy and civil engineering construction.
As businesses expand over the next decade, their building needs also increase, making construction management an important profession for economic growth.
Construction managers act as crucial liaisons for a building project. They communicate with clients, engineers, architects, and building teams. They also monitor spending, respond to emergencies, and coordinate the scheduling of subcontractors. As businesses expand over the next decade, their building needs also increase, making construction management an important profession for economic growth.
Prospective students may be drawn to the profession if they like working with people and buildings. Construction managers need excellent skills in communication, business decision-making, and building technology.
With a bachelor’s in construction management, students can sharpen these skills and qualify for supervisory positions in the field.
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Why Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management?
Any degree requires an investment of both time and money, and prospective students may question whether to take the leap. Construction management professionals can sometimes enter the field through alternate pathways, including associate degrees and relevant experience.
With a bachelor’s in construction management, however, graduates appeal to more potential employers. Students gain the skills they need to work with confidence in diverse areas, including accounting, communication, and construction techniques. Other benefits of earning a degree in construction management include:
- Greater Employability: Many employers look for construction managers who hold a bachelor’s degree. While an associate degree might allow someone to take on small projects, construction managers with a bachelor’s degree qualify for larger and more complicated jobs. Cost estimators generally need a bachelor’s.
- Educational Foundation: With a bachelor’s in construction management, students lay a foundation for further education. The degree includes business fundamentals and academic experience that could set the stage for an MBA or other master’s-level studies.
- Practical Skills: Construction management programs tend to emphasize the development of practical skills, immersing students in experiential learning opportunities. Internships, capstone projects, career exploration, and hands-on exercises with industry tools give learners an edge when they enter the job market.
What to Expect From Construction Degrees
A bachelor’s in construction management usually requires about 120 credits for graduation, including general education requirements in English, math, science, and the humanities. Major requirements vary but can range from 50-90 credits.
The core focus for a construction management degree involves engineering, critical thinking, problem-solving, and business topics like budgeting and accounting. Many programs feature practical, hands-on experiences that enhance enrollees’ professional skills. Concentration options include building sciences, architectural technology, civil engineering, and construction engineering management.
Prospective students applying for a bachelor’s in construction management should hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Many institutions ask for SAT or ACT scores or require applicants to complete a placement exam like ACCUPLACER. Other common requirements include an online application, personal statement, and application fee of about $25-$50.
Some schools waive standardized tests with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Others require students to complete a course with an acceptable grade before they can join the full major.
Aspiring construction management professionals may specialize their studies in a particular area of the field. By developing expertise in a particular niche, students can often gain a competitive edge in hiring.
Construction engineering technology focuses on the building process. With a strong emphasis on engineering, the degree highlights math, physics, surveying, materials testing, planning, and design. While a typical bachelor’s in construction management covers these topics, the specialty track makes it a primary focus.
Construction management degrees can also offer separate tracks in commercial and residential construction. Commercial construction focuses on public structures like offices, hospitals, and hotels. Residential construction prepares students to build private homes.
At some schools, construction management appears as a concentration within another bachelor’s degree. Examples include:
Civil Engineering Construction Management
Civil engineers develop infrastructure by creating transportation systems and roads, designing structures, and creating material management systems. Construction managers within civil engineering focus on the project management aspects of these tasks.
Architectural Technology and Construction Management
This degree blends architectural basics like drafting and 3D design with project management, building management, and technology.
Popular Construction Management Courses
Construction management programs differ in their curriculum requirements. However, prospective students can encounter general education courses such as English composition, algebra, physics, and public speaking.
Major courses cover construction materials and methods, construction equipment and methods, mechanical and plumbing systems, OSHA standards, and managing a construction business. Many programs also require learners to complete an experiential internship or capstone project.
Examples of construction management courses include:
How Much Will a Bachelor’s in Construction Management Cost?
The cost of earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management varies. Generally, prospective students can find tuition rates ranging from $5,800-$14,000 per semester. However, margins certainly extend in both directions.
Degree-seekers can potentially save money by considering factors like school location, institution type, and program structure. Public schools often charge lower tuition rates than private schools. They also differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students, with residents paying lower fees. Online programs frequently offer learners reduced tuition rates.
To offset the cost of their degree, students should fill out a FAFSA form to apply for financial aid. This can qualify them to receive low-interest federal loans, plus some grant opportunities.
Professional organizations offer a wealth of scholarship opportunities, and enrollees can find many awards from local organizations and individual schools. Scholarship categories can include an area of study, extracurricular interests, and personal demographics.
Choosing the Right Construction Management Program
By exploring a list of the best construction management schools, prospective students can anchor their research with facts about each program. Degree-seekers also need to consider other factors, such as accreditation, the size of a school, and the program culture.
Students should ensure that the institution holds national or regional accreditation. These standards assess the school as a whole, with regional accreditation widely recognized as the more rigorous. Construction management programs may also hold accreditation from the American Council for Construction Education.
School size can impact a student’s learning experience. Some degree-seekers thrive in large, active campuses with sporting events and many extracurricular offerings. Others prefer smaller and more intimate collegiate settings.
Program culture can also factor into the decision-making process. Prospective students might speak with a current student or alumni to discover whether a program promotes competition or support. As another example, a diverse faculty can point to a culture that prioritizes an inclusive environment.
What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter?
Should You Get Your Degree Online?
Online education provides a wealth of opportunities for students who want flexibility and access to excellent programming from wherever they live. As distance learning explodes in popularity, employers increasingly value the experience students can gain while earning their degrees online.
With a construction degree, learners can complete general education courses and business foundations easily from home. Students learn core concepts like fundamentals of accounting, contracts, and quality management without completing any in-person requirements.
An online degree allows students with work obligations to continue earning a salary and gaining valuable experience while completing their degree. Courses may run asynchronously, allowing learners to access information on their own schedules. Other programs may require enrollees to log in for real-time classes. Alternatively, hybrid programs combine web-based classes with some in-person requirements.
Online education requires the same dedication as an on-campus degree. Learners in any program can excel when they can exercise good time management skills and self-discipline.
Frequently Asked Questions
What degree does a construction manager need?
Construction managers can take various pathways into the field, but most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. Those with an associate degree might handle minor projects if they have significant experience.
Is a construction management degree worth it?
With a bachelor’s in construction management, graduates bring significant knowledge to their work. The curriculum covers business, management, and building technologies that employers value highly.
How long are construction manager programs?
Most students can complete a construction management bachelor’s degree in about four years. Students can reduce this timeline by transferring college credits or enrolling in an accelerated program.
What kinds of jobs can you get with a construction management degree?
Graduates who hold a bachelor’s in construction management qualify for jobs as general contractors and project managers. They may also work as cost estimators or property managers.
Is a construction manager a good career?
The BLS projects 8% growth in construction management jobs from 2019-2029, much faster than the national average for all occupations. Construction managers earn an annual median wage of $97,180.
Best Construction Management Schools
California State University-Sacramento
The #1 school on our list, California State University Sacramento is a public university that enrolls over 30,000 students. Based in California’s state capitol, the university holds the distinction of being “Tree Campus USA.” It is also home to more than 30 oncampus research centers.
CSU-Sacramento ranks at the top for a reason. Beyond the impressive spread of undergraduate courses, the 132-hour program features a well-developed co-operative experience. This means you’ll gain solid work experience even before graduating. Some classes to help you get there are:
- Construction Labor Relations
- Construction Graphics
- Planning, Scheduling, and Control
- Soils and Foundations
One huge bonus for this program is its price. CSU-Sacramento pulls in the most affordable award on our list with a net price of $9,127 per year. Even more, it is ranked #59 in the nation according to PayScale’s list of graduate salary potential.
Arizona State University-Tempe
Arizona State University is a public research institution with a huge annual enrollment of around 73,000 students. Though its main university is in Phoenix, the university’s largest branch is in Tempe, Arizona. ASU has been consistently named one of the most innovative schools in the country for its high research activity.
Expect to jump in head first with Arizona State’s BS in Construction Management. You’ll take 120 hours of classes that cover a range of subjects, from Blueprint Design to Land Development Theory. The program also features the following areas of focus:
- Commercial Building
- Specialty Construction
- Concrete Industry
- Residential Construction
Another unique portion of Arizona State’s Construction Management program is the two required summer internships. One of them focuses on managerial work; the other is a field placement. In the end, you’ll get valuable work experience at both ends of the job!
Central Connecticut State University
The oldest public university in the state, Central Connecticut State University is a regional institution based in New Britain, Connecticut. It is made up of four colleges. The Construction Management degree is housed in the School of Engineering, Science, and Technology.
The BS in Construction Management at Central Connecticut State blends together field operations with advanced mathematics to give you the best education possible. In addition to general courses and 18 credits in business, you’ll take 58 credits in construction management classes. Some of them include:
- Intro to MEP Systems
- Construction Documents
- Building Construction Systems
- Construction Superintendency
Central Connecticut State University not only prepares you with competitive classes, but also provides the technology and tools you need to succeed. Students in the Construction Management program use Expedition, Primavera Project Planner, and Timberline Precision Estimating.
Smack dab in the heart of New York City, New York University is a touchstone for private education. The research university has a reputation that reaches all corners of the world, with satellite branches in Berlin, Madrid, Paris, and beyond.
At New York University, you’ll find a program where theory meets hands-on application. The BS in Construction Management degree takes you to actual construction plots to work on skills like cost estimation, scheduling, and more. Throughout the 4-year curriculum, you’ll engage in classes like:
- Non-structural Building Systems
- Construction Law
- Contracts & Construction Documents
- Materials Engineering Laboratory
Just a heads up, the official major in Construction Management will be discontinued at New York University in the fall of 2018. However, you’ll be able to take most of the same classes through the Minor in Construction Management, which will continue as usual.