Construction Management: Bachelor, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What kind of jobs can you get with an associate's and bachelor's degree in construction management? Find out associate's and bachelor's degree requirements, online options and info on courses in construction management.
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Construction Management Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

Construction managers are responsible for overseeing construction projects, from the planning and early development to completion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree in construction management is increasingly required for many jobs; however, an associate's degree when combined with experience may be satisfactory for some positions.

Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in construction management can teach students how to prepare budgets and estimates, work with architects and engineers, manage workers and maximize efficiency. The BLS projected that employment for construction managers would increase 17% from 2010-2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who work in construction and want to obtain a management position Those who want to work in construction management out of college
Common Career Paths (with approximate average salary) -Construction worker ($34,000)*
-Cost estimator ($63,000)*
-Construction manager ($94,000*)*
-Architectural manager ($99,000)**
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements About 20-24 courses
About 40-48 courses
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED equivalent
High school diploma or GED equivalent
Online Availability Limited Availability Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (2012 figures).

Associate's in Construction Management

An associate's degree program in construction management can prepare students to manage construction sites and workers. Before taking management courses, you will have the opportunity to obtain basic carpentry skills, as well as learn about interior and exterior finishing, laying foundations, framing structures and roofing. In addition to gaining construction skills, you can also develop skills in accounting, scheduling, negotiating and contracting. Even with an associate's degree, you must have many years of construction experience before working your way up to a construction manager position.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Opportunity to oversee workers and create work schedules
  • Almost two-thirds of construction managers were self-employed in 2010*
  • You may be able to transfer your credits to a bachelor's degree program

Cons

  • You will need several years of experience before obtaining a management position*
  • You may be competing for positions against applicants with bachelor's degrees
  • Employment may be tied to fluctuation in economy*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Before taking construction management-related classes, students in an associate's degree program will need to complete general education requirements and introductory courses in the field. For example, you may courses similar to the following:

  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Social science
  • Humanities
  • Introduction to construction
  • Construction safety
  • Construction reading fundamentals.

Advanced construction management courses may cover topics like construction contracting, construction drafting, financial accounting, site layout and framing, finishing and construction scheduling.

Online Course Options

While rare, associate's degree programs in construction management are available online. A flexible curriculum will allow students to continue to work while they complete their education or attend to personal matters. You will complete courses through online lectures, podcasts and readings. Because online associate's degree programs in construction management are not very common, it's important that you ensure that any prospective school is accredited.

How to Stand Out

While certification is not required to work in the field, it can demonstrate your knowledge and skills in construction management. The Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation is available through the Construction Management Association of America. In addition to completing a self-study course, applicants are required to have experience in the field and pass an examination. You may also consider gaining certification in a specific construction area, such as welding or concrete finishing.

Bachelor's in Construction Management

A bachelor's degree program in construction management can teach you how to apply business and management skills to construction projects. The program will teach you how to maintain a budget, schedule workers and ensure safety at all times. Students will also learn how to efficiently use construction materials and machines. Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in construction management may still need to gain professional experience prior to pursuing employment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Some programs offer the opportunity to gain professional practice
  • New laws for building standards may improve job growth*
  • The need to improve or replace roads and bridges will increase employment*

Cons

  • You may be competing for jobs against applicants with only an associate's degree and experience
  • Weekend and evening work may be required
  • May work on a project-to-project basis

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

Courses in a bachelor's degree program combine elements involving construction, mathematics, science and technology to solve construction problems. Students will also have an opportunity to learn about the current trends within the industry and learn how to make decisions involving construction management. While the curriculum in the first two years of the program will resemble an associate's degree program, bachelor's degree courses include construction methods and equipment, cost estimating, engineering project management, construction law, ethics and construction safety.

Online Course Options

While fully online bachelor's degree programs in construction management are available, students can also pursue a hybrid program. All requirements in a fully online program can be completed over the Internet. A hybrid program will require that students attend some classes and labs on-campus. Students who want to enroll in an online program may need to meet certain prerequisites, including having experience in the field or earning a certificate or an associate's degree prior to enrollment.

How to Stand Out

As technology continues to advance, it's important that construction managers stay up-to-date in the field. Whether it involves incorporating green technology when renovating a building or implementing the latest computerized devices into a new project, construction managers must be aware of the latest advancements when consulting with architects and owners. Pursing the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation is also an option for graduates of a bachelor's degree program; however, you may need experience in the field to pursue this credential.

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