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Becoming a Construction Project Manager via the College Route

Apr 21, 2023 | Blog, Career, Management

Construction project managers are professionals responsible for overseeing and managing construction projects from the design phase to the completion phase. They work with architects, engineers, contractors, and other construction professionals to ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and meet quality standards.

You can become a project manager through your own initiative and years of work experience. And we STRONGLY suggest that you obtain real world experience performing work in the field if you want to become a project manager. However, you can short-circuit the process by going the college route. Students can enroll in a construction management program that offers a curriculum tailored to equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the construction industry.

So what does that look like?

A typical construction management program may last for four years and cover a broad range of subjects. Here is an overview of the typical curriculum that a college student who wants to become a construction project manager may encounter:

Year One

In the first year of a construction management program, students are introduced to the basic concepts of construction management. They learn about the construction industry, its history, and how it operates. They also study the various types of construction projects, such as residential, commercial, and industrial, and the processes involved in each of them.

In addition, students take courses in mathematics and science, such as calculus, physics, and chemistry, to provide a foundation for understanding the technical aspects of construction. They also learn about safety regulations, project planning, and risk management.

Year Two

In the second year, students continue their study of construction management and take more advanced courses. They learn about construction materials and methods, including concrete, steel, wood, and masonry. They also study building systems, such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, and how they are integrated into a construction project.

Students also take courses in project management, including project scheduling, cost estimation, and resource allocation. They learn about the different project delivery methods, such as design-bid-build, design-build, and construction management at risk.

Year Three

In the third year, students take courses that focus on the practical aspects of construction management. They learn about construction contracts, including the different types of contracts, their legal implications, and how to negotiate them. They also study construction finance, including budgeting, cash flow analysis, and accounting principles.

Students also take courses in construction law, which covers topics such as zoning regulations, building codes, and construction disputes. They learn about the legal requirements for building permits and how to obtain them.

Year Four

In the fourth and final year, students take courses that prepare them for the professional world. They learn about construction technology, including building information modeling (BIM), which is a digital representation of a building that helps to streamline the design and construction process.

Students also take courses in leadership and communication, which are essential skills for a construction project manager. They learn how to manage teams, communicate with clients, and resolve conflicts.

Finally, students complete a capstone project, which is a culmination of their learning throughout the program. The project may involve working on a real construction project or a simulated one, and it requires students to apply the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout their program.

In addition to the core curriculum, students may have the option to take elective courses in specialized areas such as sustainability, green building, and construction technology.


Most construction management programs require students to complete an internship as part of their degree requirements. The internship gives students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the construction industry and to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned in the classroom.

During the internship, students may work with architects, engineers, contractors, or other construction professionals. They may assist in project planning, site inspection, cost estimation, or project management. The internship is an excellent opportunity for students to network with professionals in the industry and to gain a better understanding of the construction industry’s workings.

Upon completion of the program, students are well equipped to begin a career in the construction industry. They have the skills and knowledge necessary to plan, manage, and execute construction projects successfully. Additionally, they are prepared to take on leadership roles, communicate effectively with clients and stakeholders, and make sound decisions based on technical and financial analysis. However, as stated above, it is strongly recommended students obtain as much real world experience as possible. Combining hands-on experience with the knowledge obtained through university study is the best way to go.