All major building projects require the communication, decision-making and negotiating skills of a construction manager - get a good grounding in the profession by studying a relevant construction management course

What is a construction manager?

As a construction manager, it's your responsibility to ensure that the project you're leading is finished on time, on budget and to the required standard.

You'll supervise operations, collaborate with other professionals such as architects and surveyors, and ensure that tradespeople and contractors make progress as expected.

Your duties will extend to:

  • buying materials and equipment
  • hiring staff
  • inspecting work in progress
  • checking design documents
  • maintaining communication with clients.

Learn more about the role of a construction manager.

Why study a construction management course in the UK?

If you have excellent leadership skills, are highly organised and already possess in-depth knowledge of how construction projects work, qualifying as a construction manager could be your next career move.

The job can be stressful, as you'll be the key point of contact and therefore responsible for handling the demands of the client, public and professionals involved.

However, seeing a project through to completion can be incredibly rewarding, and there'll be opportunities across the UK on a range of sites - those with experience may even be able to work abroad.

With starting salaries typically set at £26,000 to £33,000, becoming a construction manager also brings high earning potential. At senior and chartered levels, you could be commanding between £50,000 and £85,000.

How do I become a construction manager?

Taking an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in construction management will give you a head start in this profession.

Look for vocational construction manager courses approved by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). As a worldwide professional body, CIOB accreditation is a mark of quality that employers recognise.

What construction management degrees are available?

There are many construction management courses available at undergraduate level, usually classified as Bachelor of Science (BSc).

These degrees typically include an industry placement year, which is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience on the job. However, this also means you'll gain your qualification in four years, as opposed to three.

Entry requirements vary depending on the institution. Most stipulate that you should have at least two A-levels or equivalent - sometimes stipulating that one of these needs to be in maths or a science subject - as well as possessing good GCSEs in maths and English.

For some courses, you'll need a minimum of 96 UCAS Tariff points to land a place, such as for the BSc Construction Management at the University of East London. Other institutions may expect more. For instance, you'll typically require 104 to 120 points for the BSc Construction Management at the University of Brighton and 112 for the BSc Construction Project Management offered by Oxford Brookes University.

Be sure to check with your chosen university before applying. Mature students who don't meet the minimum requirements, but already have significant industry experience, may also be considered.

To develop the skills needed to become a construction manager, you'll cover topics such as project management, the built environment, managing costs and relevant construction legislation.

Individual universities run their own set of compulsory and core modules, but all courses accredited by the CIOB will cover the essentials. You'll usually be expected to complete a dissertation or major project in your final year.

Graduates go on to careers as:

Another option at undergraduate level is to study for a foundation degree in construction management (FdSc). These courses last two years and are equivalent to two-thirds of a BSc degree. This may suit you if you don't meet the entry requirements for the full degree or aren’t sure whether you want to commit to a three or four-year course.

Bear in mind that foundation degrees tend to be more vocational, and part-time study is often available for those already working in the industry. What's more, you can decide to top-up a foundation degree to a full degree further down the line.

Should I study the Masters in construction management?

If you want an accredited construction management qualification but didn't study a course at undergraduate level, the subject is widely available as a postgraduate course. The most common courses are Master of Science (MSc) degrees in construction management or construction project management.

Studying one of these programmes can ensure you're ready to successfully oversee a construction project and can enter the profession equipped with the sought-after skills required by leading employers in this industry.

For entry onto a Masters course, you'll typically require at least a 2:1 undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. As a guide, The University of Manchester describes a relevant subject as being in 'the built environment or relevant engineering, science or management disciplines'.

For some postgraduate programmes, such as the University College of Estate Management's (UCEM) MSc Construction Management, a 2:2 will be sufficient.

Also, a number of universities don't demand that you previously studied a relevant subject as long as you can demonstrate an interest in the construction industry. Mature students with experience on the job may also be eligible.

Masters degrees generally take 12 months to complete when studied full time - though part-time and distance learning options are available too. They deliver intensive training in the theory and practice of construction management.

Example compulsory modules include:

  • contracts and procurement
  • construction financial management
  • sustainability and environmental management
  • managing smart construction projects
  • economic, legal and political framework.

You'll often be given the choice of some optional modules, allowing you to specialise in your favoured subjects. You'll also have to write a dissertation or complete a major project.

Tuition fees for MSc construction management courses are typically between £7,000 and £10,000, although can be as high as £15,000. Consider supporting your studies through postgraduate funding.

For instance, UCEM will fund up to 50% of the fees for its Masters course for a limited number of students that can demonstrate outstanding academic ability as well as financial need.

Apply via the websites of the universities you're interested in, or search postgraduate courses in construction management.

Can I study a construction management course online?

If you'd like to study at postgraduate level but don't have the time to commit to writing a dissertation, many universities now offer construction management courses with online/distance learning options, in addition to a selection of postgraduate diplomas and certificates.

Online construction management courses include the Online MSc Construction Project Management from Nottingham Trent University (NTU), which can be studied from two-and-a-half to a maximum of five years.

The University of Salford offers the MSc Construction Management as a two-year distance learning course, as well as PgDip and PgCert options.

For working professionals looking to gain formal CPD (continuing professional development), RICS runs the Certificate in Construction Project Management. The course, which costs £945 (plus VAT) for RICS professionals (and £1,135 plus VAT for non-members), is available online and can be taken over seven months.

Get the full lowdown on postgraduate diplomas and certificates and online learning.

Whether you decide to study construction management at undergraduate/postgraduate level or as part of your professional development, the skills and knowledge you gain should hold you in good stead as you progress your construction management career.

Find out more

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