Hi everyone, a warm welcome to Career Employer’s expertly crafted article on Project management vs construction management.

We guarantee that after reading this, you will know the ins and outs of construction management compared to project management.

In today’s article, we’ll discuss:

The difference between project and construction management
Roles and responsibilities of PMs and construction managers
How to become a project or construction manager
What construction project management entails

Without further ado, let’s get started.


Project management refers to managing all parts of a single project from inception to completion.

Project management is not exclusive to construction.

It’s in several other industries, such as engineering, retail, planning, finance, IT, and business, among others.

Project managers are the professionals charged with project management.

They oversee the entire project cycle, including planning, coordinating, and managing resources and tasks required to fulfill project tasks.

In construction projects, project managers’ responsibility includes meeting with the project owner to discuss the building’s requirements.

They also oversee hiring the project team, developing the project plan, and collaborating with team members and other stakeholders.

Construction management, on the other hand, deals with overseeing the construction phase of a project.

Construction managers are tasked with supervising the construction of a building.

They are often at the construction site, where they manage the team and supervise the construction process.

Construction managers collaborate with subcontractors, order construction materials, ensure safety and quality during the building process, and delegate tasks to the construction team.

In general, project managers are in charge of the entire construction process, while construction managers are explicitly charged with the construction phase.

Now, let’s take a step further and find out the key differences between project and construction managers.

Project Management vs Construction Management

In small construction firms, a project manager may be responsible for their duties and those of a construction manager.

However, large projects require both a project and a construction manager for a successful construction project.

Having said that, here are the main differences between project and construction managers.

Educational Requirements

The employment qualification for both designations depends on the company, the location, and the size of the project.

Most companies require construction managers to have a bachelor’s degree in construction management, building science, or civil engineering.

More often than not, these professionals have years of experience in the construction industry.

In some states, construction managers must have a license in general Construction, Architecture, or Engineering.

Similarly, project managers working in construction projects are required to have a bachelor’s degree.

It could be in Construction Management, Architecture, or Engineering.

Additionally, experience in construction project management can give a project manager a head start in the construction industry.

Some states require project managers to have a license.

Moreover, project managers usually have certification, which is not mandatory, but it can be exactly what a project manager needs to climb the career ladder.

Let’s now see how their roles and responsibilities differ one from the other.

Duties and Responsibilities

Construction managers focus only on the construction portion of a building project.

They have hands-on trade skills in plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and general construction.

As such, the day-to-day responsibility is handling the subordinate aspects of the actual construction.

They are responsible for several aspects of the construction process, including:

  • Overseeing all the construction activities on the site from the pre-construction to the punch list.
  • Ordering new items, ensuring they are delivered on time, and maintaining the available resources.
  • Creating schedules, delegating tasks, and supervising the construction team, including the subcontractors.
  • Collaborating with the material suppliers and contractors.
  • Observing the local construction guidelines and building codes to ensure the project meets the set guidelines.
  • Projecting the cost estimate of the construction tasks.
  • Ensuring tools are available, and the construction resources are properly allocated.
  • Overseeing the progress of the construction and reporting the same to the program managers.

Construction managers may also be tasked with meeting with engineers, inspectors, consultants, or clients during construction.

On the flip side, project managers manage all the aspects of construction or a real estate project.

Generally, they are responsible for all project phases, from the inception to administrative needs to marketing.

They manage the initial planning, site selection, analysis design, project budget, procurement, and construction.

Additionally, they are responsible for the project schedule and budget.

Project managers forecast any risks that may delay the project completion or inflate the budget and develop strategies to alleviate those risks.

Specifically, project managers are responsible for:

  • Meeting with the project owner to have a full understanding of all aspects of the project requirements.
  • Creating a project plan together with the cost estimates for every aspect of the project.
  • Managing all the paperwork, the zoning documents, initial plans, and contracts.
  • Hiring the contractors, including the contract manager.
  • Designing the timelines of the project such that the project team is well aware of the deadlines of each stage of the project.

Project managers are the voice of the project owner.

As long as the project is in progress, they are responsible for giving the project owner a regular project report.

They coordinate the entire project team; hence, they know the roles of everyone in a project.

This way, they can integrate all the moving parts of a project from the initial phase, exploratory meetings, construction to the project’s closeout.

Even when the construction project is complete, they continue to work, ensuring the opening stage of the project is successful.

Up to this point, it’s clear that project managers have many responsibilities compared to construction managers.

Project Timeline

The timeline between project and construction managers’ work varies.

Project managers collaborate with the project owner from the start to the end.

They work together from the initial phase, budgeting, planning, to project delivery.

On the contrary, construction managers may join a project at the budgeting stage or actual construction.

They ensure the buildings are built as per the codes of buildings.

They also ensure the building is safe and efficient.

Work Environment

Project managers work from the office.

They often travel to the project site to discuss the progress with the construction manager.

They also travel to see the client and discuss the project workflow.

The construction manager’s job site is the building under construction.

They are always at the building, supervising all the construction work.

So if you love to be on-site to oversee ongoing construction work, then you should pursue a career in construction management.

Collaboration With Other Professionals

Project managers often collaborate with the client.

They liaise with the construction manager and communicate the progress to the client.

Project managers also work with other project members to ensure the project is implemented on time and within budget.

Construction managers collaborate with Surveyors, Project Managers, Architects, and Suppliers.

They also work hand-in-hand with the construction laborers, discussing the subsequent steps in construction.

There’s a whole collaboration web between all players in the management and construction industry, including the client, with the Project Manager being the centerpiece.

Skills Required

Both construction managers and project managers require soft and technical skills.

When it comes to technical skills, project managers should have skills related to administrative duties and business.

On the contrary, construction managers should know construction materials, structure principles, and building designs.

Apart from these distinct technical skills, both project and construction managers should have the following soft skills.

Communication skills

Since their job description entails collaborating with different professionals, project and construction managers must have communication skills.

Project managers use communications skills when discussing project deliverables with the client or working with the construction manager.

Even in project planning, meetings, and delegating tasks, communication is important.

Construction managers with effective communication skills find it easy to discuss the construction process with the construction crew and the project manager.

Leadership skills

Both roles involve steering the project team to produce results.

As such, effective leadership skills are necessary for motivating team members to reach project milestones.

It also comes in handy when coordinating teams and assigning duties.

Project and construction managers can only be effective if they can lead their teams towards successful project completion.

Earning Potential

According to Payscale, the average salary of project managers is $76,061, while construction managers earn $75,485.

Salary.com, on the other hand, places the average salary of construction managers at $115,447, with salaries ranging from $99,836 and $131,912.

The same platform projects that project managers earn an average of $60,272.

However, most project managers earn between $60,272 and $76,648.

Construction Project Management

The discussion on project management vs construction management can’t be complete without talking about construction project management.

Construction project managers and construction managers are sometimes used interchangeably, depending on one’s location.

However, the two are different.

Construction project management involves cost management, quality management, contract administration, project planning, time management, practices, and safety management.

Construction project managers oversee the planning, coordination, and financials.

Construction managers, as we’ve learned, are solely responsible for coordinating the actual construction.

A general project management degree won’t cut it when it comes to the education requirement for construction project managers.

General project management course doesn’t have the technical knowledge required in the construction industry.

They are heavily inclined toward business management.

A construction management course offers a solid foundation on how the industry operates.

They are practical and offer knowledge of real-life scenarios in construction management.

Construction project management courses cover working approaches and compliance requirements of the construction sector.

They also cover procurement practices, construction management software, legalities, and unexpected problems in the construction process.

Clearly, the course focuses highly on construction management, making it the right fit for construction project managers.


It’s now crystal clear that project management and construction management are different.

Similarly, the role of project managers is different from construction managers.

While construction managers work on-site during the construction process, project managers take charge of a project from the start to the end.

As such, project managers have more authority over a project.

Important to note is that project managers working in the construction industry more often than not have technical knowledge in construction industry.






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