Do you know how to become a construction site manager? Construction site managers are a must for every building or public works project. Without them, many construction projects would be beautifully designed on paper, but a mess in real life.

In 2021, the global building construction market was estimated to be worth $6529.74 billion. By 2030, it is estimated that it will be worth $8 trillion. In addition, the construction industry in the UK recorded a gross value added (GVA) of £122 billion in 2021. In some ways, the construction industry offers extremely stable employment. Experienced construction professionals also find it easy to move overseas if they want to, as their jobs are often in high demand.

The construction industry houses many professions, from engineers and architects to surveyors and masons, and every profession in the industry is important. If you are looking to join the construction industry, the site manager profession presents a profitable career path. In this article, you will learn what it takes to become a Construction Site Manager.

A site manager and trainee site manager in hard hats and high visibility vests look out over a construction site.

Who is a Construction Site Manager?

A construction site manager is a trained professional tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of a construction project. You can compare the role to the CEO of a project site. They are responsible for managing communications between the different professionals on the site and working with them to ensure the project is executed. While a project manager may be responsible for planning and delivering the project to the client, it’s the construction site manager who will be there every day to make sure it happens.

A site manager’s job has to deal with any challenges that come up on-site, avoiding delays while ensuring build quality. They have to work within the stipulated timeframe and approved budget. It is also their responsibility to ensure that the project meets all applicable guidelines and regulations.

The site manager is also responsible for safety, making sure that the professionals working on-site have been briefed about safety measures and comply with them.  And it’s not just on-site work that a site manager has to deal with. They are also expected to prepare reports, interpret architectural drawings, and communicate regularly with the project manager or even directly with clients.

Additionally, the site manager is expected to conduct frequent site walks, perform health and safety checks, and inspect the quality of work. This varied list of tasks supports the view that “site managers are organisers.” They must effectively manage human and material resources for the execution of a project.

Depending on the type of project, site managers are also called construction managers, building managers, or site agents.

Becoming a Construction Site Manager

You can become a construction site manager in any of the following ways:

  • Have a relevant university degree (plus work experience)
  • Become an apprentice and work your way up
  • Start working in construction and take additional courses as your career progresses

 

Let’s take a look at those options in greater detail:

1. Have A University Degree

Site managers need to have a good grasp of certain relevant subjects before they can work effectively. A bachelor’s degree helps them attain mastery of such subjects and provides practical experience of what the profession entails. The degree must be relevant to the profession and accredited by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

There are currently over 30 universities in the UK that offer CIOB-accredited degree courses. Potential subjects include more obvious choices like Construction Management and Construction Project Management, to more specialised courses in surveying, quantity surveying, architectural technology and civil engineering.

Although a university education can help kickstart a career as a site manager, some people are unable to access it. Another option is to study at a polytechnic and obtain either a National Diploma or Higher National Diploma.

2. Become An Apprentice

Quality education is costly, and many cannot afford it even though they want it. But this shouldn’t stand in the way of their dream of becoming site managers. Apprenticeship is another way of receiving training in site management.

Many site managers started as apprentices and worked their way to the top of their careers. An apprenticeship with a construction company helps one gain hands-on experience and knowledge of the field. It is a much quicker route compared to a university degree. With no certifications required, apprentices can start learning from as young as 16 years old, with the opportunity of mastering the ropes of the profession in a few years.

The benefit of being an apprentice is that you can also start earning while you learn. Meanwhile, many of your contemporaries will still be at college or university. You’ll also get your foot on the career ladder at a young age.

3. Have Work Experience

A university degree or an apprenticeship is a good way of breaking into the site management sub-industry. But neither option beats having actual job experience. This experience comes from working in a related field.

Other construction professionals like building technicians, site supervisors, estimators, and surveyors can easily transition into a site management role. This is because they have previous experience from related on-site jobs. Many people who started in trades like plumbing, carpentry, bricklaying, etc. can also make the transition to site management.

By working your way up to management in a trade, you gain many of the soft skills that you need to be a site manager. By working at ground level on a building site, you get a good understanding of how the different trades work together.

You’ll still need some additional qualifications to become a site manager, but your work experience should make the process easier. You’ll also have a lot of great real-world experience to speak about in job interviews.

What Does a Site Manager Career Path Look Like?

Having joined the industry by any of the routes above, a site manager usually works between 41-43 hours a week. These hours can be extended on special occasions where more work has to be done, such as last-minute delivery of materials from suppliers or a prolonged meeting with other professionals.

Although the entry-level salary for a site manager is an average of £25,000, the profession’s career path falls into three levels:

  • Trainee Site Managers: Also known as assistant site managers, these professionals’ salary range is between £25,000 and £35,000.
  • Trained Site Managers: These site managers have some years of experience in the field and earn between £35,000 and £45,000.
  • Senior Site Managers: Also known as chartered construction managers, these professionals earn between £45,000 and £50,000.

 

Chartered Construction Managers are more sought after in the industry. You can attain this status through years of experience and certification from an industry body. In the UK, the certifying body is the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

Site Management Courses

These courses are considered to be the gold standard in site management qualifications:

  • CIOB Level 4 Certificate in Site Management: Awarded by the CIOB, this certificate course provides construction workers with the knowledge needed to move to managerial roles. This site manager course costs £750 – £1,015 (depending on whether the student has a valid SMSTS certificate or not).
  • CIOB Level 4 Diploma in Site Management: The course takes 12 months to complete, and is awarded by the CIOB. Upon completing the course’s twelve modules, the professional is eligible to apply for the CSCS White Card. This site management course costs £2,499 – £2,800 (depending on whether the student has a valid SMSTS certificate or not).

What’s at the top of the Site Manager Career Ladder?

Over time, site managers can advance in their careers to become project managers, contract managers or project consultants. These positions come with special responsibilities and increased earnings. Site managers can decide to specialise in areas like estimating, project inspection, and health and safety checks.

But climbing to the top of the ladder doesn’t come easily. Professionals must have a proven track record in managing successful construction projects. And you can only succeed in your projects if you have certain skills.

The must-have skills of a good site manager are:

  • Leadership skills: The site manager is the head of all operations on the site, so they must exhibit quality leadership.
  • Human relations skills: A site manager needs to have good interpersonal skills because they have to work with other professionals like estimators, surveyors, and architects.
  • Time-management skills: The site manager must effectively manage time to complete the project on schedule.
  • Communication skills: The site manager must be a good communicator, both orally and in writing. This is important because other professionals have to understand the requests they make and the tasks they set at all times.
  • Analytical thinking skills: A site manager should quickly analyse problems that emerge on the site and come up with logical solutions to the challenges.
  • Risk-aware: A great site manager can evaluate risk. Whether something is a safety risk or a risk to the project timeline, they know when to intervene and when to escalate a problem to project managers.
  • Tech-savvy: The best construction site managers stay up to date with the latest developments in construction technology. Whether it’s a site management tool like PlanRadar or drones, 3D printed elements or other high-tech solutions, the construction site manager should be keen to learn new skills and add efficiency to their project.

Conclusion

Unlike other construction workers, site managers play pivotal roles on the site from the beginning to the end of the project. They are responsible for planning and coordinating the project based on the client’s specifications.

The site management profession will continue to thrive as long as the construction industry exists. And the best site managers are those who prioritise personal development. From taking courses and CPD modules to reading the industry news, these managers commit to staying ahead in their careers.

PlanRadar is a platform designed to support construction site managers. It streamlines communication with both the office and different team members on-site. It also makes a site manager’s daily work – site diaries, health and safety reporting – easier by generating a digital audit trail of all work completed. Some site managers report saving up to 7 hours per week.

If you want to increase your productivity and the quality of work you deliver to clients, then get in touch to learn more about how PlanRadar could work for you.