Construction Administrator Careers: Job Description & Salary

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A construction administrator's median salary is usually around $51,000. Is this worth the education and knowledge required? Learn the truth about the job duties of a construction administrator and read actual job postings from real employers to decide if this profession is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Being a Construction Administrator

Construction developers and owners rely on administrators to keep projects on track and within the budget. Here are some pros and cons of being a construction administrator that can help you decide if this is an ideal job for you.

Pros of Being a Construction Administrator
Good earning potential ($50,315 or $51,482 median annual salary, depending on job title)**
Can get certified to stand out*
Can get job with high school diploma*
Most jobs are in comfortable offices*

Cons of Being a Construction Administrator
Usually requires meeting tight deadlines*
Frequent travel to work sites may be needed*
May require working at loud, dusty job sites*
May require significant knowledge of contracts*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

Career Information

Career Paths

Although the job title construction administrator and construction manager may seem alike, they are two distinct roles. However, both occupations do share some similar functions, which can make it difficult to distinguish the two. Basically, a construction administrator usually performs more administrative duties in an office environment, while a construction manager is more involved in the building process on a job site.

Job Duties

There are basically two types of construction administrators: those who perform general office management duties and those who perform more complex administrative and on-site duties. Professionals in this field can also be called construction coordinators or construction contracts administrators. In a position with limited responsibilities, your duties may include maintaining project files and payment applications, preparing and tracking construction requests for information (RFI), recording and distributing meeting minutes, monitoring the construction bidding process and writing reports.

Some more weighty duties you may have include adhering to federal and state building regulations, interpreting construction drawings, managing project timelines and contractor schedules, managing operational budget, making sure construction document are compliant, overseeing supporting staff members, preparing cost estimates, and reviewing and negotiating contracts. On a construction job site, you may engage in physical labor, work with engineers and project managers, and inspect building progress.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS does not provide a job outlook specific to construction administrators. However, this job falls under the broader field of administrative services management, which is projected to experience a 12% growth in jobs between 2012-2022, about the same as the average across all jobs nationwide. Additionally, the BLS reported that during this time that construction managers will have a faster-than-average employment growth, at about 16%.

Some factors contributing to job growth for these occupations include a demand for better bridges, roadways and other infrastructures, more energy-efficient buildings and more properties needed to meet population and business growth. The BLS also noted that candidates with bachelor's degrees are likely to have more favorable job opportunities. According to ',' the salary range for entry-level construction coordinators is $38,808-$63,827. For entry-level construction contracts administrators, the salary range is $39,891-$63,445.

What Are the Requirements?

The level of responsibilities your job requires will determine the education you need. A bachelor's degree is usually required for this profession. However, some employers may accept a high school diploma or associate's degree for less demanding positions. For positions that require a greater knowledge of construction design and principles, a bachelor's degree in architecture, construction management, construction science or engineering is often required, according to the BLS.

In addition to these requirements, you must have proficiency in various Microsoft Office applications, such as Excel, Word and Outlook. Also, being physically able to work on a construction site if needed and having strong skills in areas like analysis, communication, decision making, mathematics and time-management are essential for this occupation.

Job Postings from Real Employers

According to actual job postings, construction administrators who perform general to moderately complex duties need at least 2-5 years of relevant experience. Those with more complex duties usually need at least five years of experience. Employers also look for candidates who have knowledge of construction and contracts management. The below list of job postings for construction administrator positions from real employers can give you some insight into what skills and education requirements employers were looking for during April 2012.

  • A construction company in Maryland seeks a candidate to support project managers and inspectors on a multi-million dollar building project. The employer requires a high school diploma at minimum and at least five years of experience. The salary offered for this position is $45,000-$55,000 annually.
  • An engineering company in Connecticut is looking for an administrator to oversee the design plan for a data center. The candidate will work with construction managers and coordinators during daily activities. This employer is offering $30,000-$40,000.
  • A charter school in Florida advertised for a candidate with 3-5 years of experience in the construction industry to perform administrative duties, such as organize construction documents, create reports and keep records of payments to contractors. Other qualifications include an associate's or bachelor's degree, plus knowledge of accounting and Microsoft Office Suite. This employer is offering a salary of $35,000-$45,000.
  • An architectural engineering firm in North Dakota is seeking an applicant who can provide administrative support to construction managers at a U.S. Air Force base. Duties include screening calls, keeping track of records and editing reports. This employer requires an associate's degree in a related field and 2-5 years of experience in construction project administration.

How to Stand out in the Field

To separate yourself from other applicants, you can chose from one of several certification programs offered by The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), including the Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), the Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR), the Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) and the Construction Documents Technology (CDT) program. The CDT program is a prerequisite program to the other certifications and has no eligibility requirements.

To register for the CCCA exam, you must have at least two years of contracts administration experience. You would also need two years of experience representing construction products to qualify for the CCPR exam. For the CCS credential, you must have at least five years of work experience in construction design, including experience in construction bidding and specifications.

Alternative Career Paths

Construction or Building Inspector

If you're detailed-oriented and prefer to work in the field, a career in construction or building inspection may be just what you're looking for. In this occupation, you would inspect infrastructures, like bridges, highways, electrical circuits and heating systems. You would also visit construction sites to evaluate building codes and safety regulations. If any violations were found, you would issue notices and contact all parties involved.

A high school diploma is usually the minimum education required to work in this field. Most states and local jurisdiction may require that you have a license or certification to practice. As of May 2011, the median salary you can expect to earn in this profession is $53,000.

Cost Estimator

Staying within a budget is a vital component of construction and manufacturing projects. As a cost estimator, you can specialize in either construction or manufacturing. In the construction industry, you may spend significant time working with architects, contractors and engineers to determine building, labor and raw material costs. On the manufacturing side, you may work with production managers to determine if expected profits for products justify the cost.

To work in this field, you usually need a bachelor's degree in areas, such as building science, construction management, mathematics or statistics. You can expect to have good employment opportunities in this position, as employment is projected to increase much faster than average by 36% through 2020, according to the BLS. The BLS also reported that cost estimators earned a median wage of $58,000, as of May 2011.

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