Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Physical Geography
Overview: Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a variety of projects, including building public, residential, commercial, and industrial structures as well as roads and bridges. Either a general contractor or a construction manager oversees the construction phase of a project, including personnel, but a construction manager may also consult with the client during the design phase to help refine construction plans and control costs. These managers coordinate construction processes so that projects meet design specifications and are completed on time within budget. Some construction managers are responsible for several projects—for example, building multiple homes—at once.
Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, civil engineers, and tradesworkers, including stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Depending on the project, construction managers may interact with lawyers or government officials. For example, when installing municipal sidewalks, construction managers may confer with city inspectors to ensure that the project meets required material specifications. For large building projects, such as industrial complexes, a top-level construction manager may hire other managers for different aspects of the project. Each construction manager then oversees completion of a specific phase, such as structural foundation or electrical work, and the top-level manager coordinates with the managers to complete the entire project. To maximize efficiency, construction managers often perform the tasks of a cost estimator. They use cost-estimating and planning software to allocate time and money for scheduling project deadlines.
Construction is closely related to geography since every project is located at a specific location. Construction managers must understand how the project will be influenced by that location, and how the building, structure, or improvement will affect the location. They must know how to read a map, understand terrain, orientation, directionality, and weather, and how those factors will all affect the project, including during the construction phase as well as the completed structure. Global positioning system (GPS) data and digital maps are also important, and geographic information systems could be integrated to make the process more efficient and accurate.
Geographers at work: Environmental geographers, physical geographers
Recommended College Courses: Environmental geography, physical geography, natural resource use and management
Skills: Map reading, spatial skills, understanding of physical terrain and weather, geographic information systems
Occupation Group: Management (Construction and Extraction)
Learn more about Construction Managers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson