Is Construction Project Management a Good Career?

Published Categorized as Project Management
Construction Management Career

Architecture, civil engineering, and cost estimation often spring to mind when many of us think about pursuing a career in the construction industry. While these are all great options, some people might not like the drawing, science, and math involved in architecture, civil engineering, and cost estimation, respectively. If you don’t, a career in project management can be an alternative.

Construction project management is a good career because it has more job openings than many other similar fields, with employment opportunities expected to increase at a faster-than-average rate of 8% by 2029. Moreover, recent statistics show that this field pays competitive salaries.

Keep reading to learn how construction project management stacks up against other similar specialties in terms of the current job availability, pay, and job outlook.

Construction Project Managers Have High Job Availability

Job availability is a critical consideration when evaluating the prospects of a career path. Unless you already have a construction management (or a similar) business that you’re looking to leverage your skills to run more effectively, you’ll want to get paid for your skills, whether that’s through formal employment or by securing projects as a freelancer.

Considering job availability (i.e. the demand for your skills) is one way to determine how difficult it will be to get employment or freelance projects.

So, what’s the current job availability like for construction project managers?

There’s only one way to answer this question effectively: using statistics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 476,700 job openings for construction project managers in 2019, a number that would be considered impressive in many other fields.

To put things into perspective, the number of job openings for architects (a similar occupation to construction management) was 129,900 the same year. Cost estimators, another similar field to construction project management. had a slightly higher demand, with an estimated 214,200 job openings in 2019.

If these numbers are anything to go by (and they are), it’s safe to conclude that the prospects are bright for construction project managers in terms of the marketability of their skills and services. This is especially true if you consider the 2019-2029 employment projections for this field, which brings us to the next item on the list: the job outlook.

The Job Outlook for Construction Project Managers Is Promising

The job outlook is also a critical consideration when making a career choice because what’s in demand today isn’t necessarily what will be five or ten years down the line. 

Taking this factor into account is particularly crucial if you’re yet to enroll for or complete the required formal training. Why? Because the last thing you want to do is to begin a 4-year bachelor’s degree in construction project management today, only to realize that the demand for your skills has changed for the worse by the time you graduate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an 8% growth in the employment of construction project managers between 2019 and 2029. This rate is much faster than the average for all career paths, including other project management occupations. 

What’s more, job prospects are expected to be even better for holders of a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, construction science, or construction management.

Construction managers’ impressive job outlook is due to an expected increase in construction activity across various industries. As more businesses come up and the population increases over the next decade, new business premises, residences, hospitals, schools, and other structures will be constructed.

Meanwhile, the growing need for energy-efficient buildings is poised to increase building renovation projects in commercial and residential buildings. The government is also expected to help boost the demand for construction project managers as it strives to improve/repair roads, sewer systems, bridges, and other infrastructure.

Note that the job outlook for construction managers isn’t immune to the effect of economic fluctuations. So while the demand for these specialists may grow well beyond the 8% projection, it can also decline due to unexpected events.

Construction Project Managers Earn Competitive Wages

So far, we’ve established that choosing to pursue construction project management puts you on a career path with impressive prospects in terms of current and projected demand. However, that doesn’t say anything about the pay, which for most people, is the most critical consideration when choosing a career path (though it shouldn’t always be).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimates, construction managers earned an annual median pay of $97,180 as of May 2020. The median pay refers to the figure at which 50% of the employees in a given field earned higher than, and the remaining 50% made less.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also estimates that, while the median pay stood at $97,180, the lowest 10% made less than $56,880. On the other end of the spectrum, the earnings for the top 10% exceeded $169,070.

As with many other career paths, the pay for construction project managers varies with industry. To demonstrate this, here’s a table summarizing the median annual earnings in the best-paying industry segments in May 2020:

Industry SegmentAnnual Median Pay
Heavy and civil engineering construction$101,730
Nonresidential building construction$98,620
Specialty trade contractors$93,650
Residential building construction$89,000

Now, an annual median pay of $97,180 is a competitive figure on its own. But things look even better when you compare this figure to the median earnings in other occupations. 

The annual median pay for similar management positions was $95,180 in May 2020, while the figure for all other occupations is $41,950. If these numbers tell a story, it’s that construction project managers make slightly more than the average manager and much more than workers in other occupations.

Bottom Line

Construction project management passes the litmus test in three of the most critical evaluation merits, indicating it’s a promising career.

The current job availability is higher for construction managers than many other specialists in similar fields and is expected to grow at a faster-than-average rate in the next decade. Meanwhile, the most recent statistics show that construction project managers earned more than individuals in other managerial and non-managerial positions.

Hopefully, this gives you the green light you needed to kickstart a career as a construction project manager.


By Giovanni Valle

Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.

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