For the last three years, I have been working in the construction industry as a project manager for a mid-sized construction company. Since 2005, the construction industry has slowed down a bit although all factors point to a recovery, which has been evident over the last year and a half. Project manager is a great position in my opinion due simply to the fact that I have autonomy over many decisions on the job site. My daily duties include ensuring all subcontractors arrive at a satisfactory time and complete their responsibilities in a timely manner. I also supervise the arrival of materials needed by many of the work crews as well. At times, I am an estimator, a manager of subcontractors, a materials inspector, and a decision maker.
A common misconception many people have of project managers is that their job only entails one or two aspects of the building process such as estimation and the hiring of subcontractors. However, my job duties are on a never-ending list. With all of these duties, my job can be quite stressful, yet I still feel my job to be an eight on a job satisfaction scale of one to ten.
Project management is not a job where one is saving lives or making personal changes in the lives of others. It incorporates many life skills that require working with others in a positive environment to foster the most productive day possible. Sometimes, I have to make important decisions that may require removing a crew from the job site. This is one of the aspects of the job that I do not enjoy. However, I enjoy what I do and have a very satisfying feeling when the crews are working together sprinting to the finish.
Some people go to college or a skilled trade school to become project managers, however, I have been working in the construction industry since I was sixteen. I started as a sweeper for a crew that was supervised by my father. I made four dollars per hour. Now, I make ten times that amount. Perseverance led me to the position I am in now. Many thought I would simply swing a hammer for the rest of my life although I used my academic skills of math and geometry to prove many people wrong. Some people believe that post high school education is a requirement for life, but from my position I would disagree. However, I will admit there aren’t many jobs where someone can earn what I do without a college degree.
I am in a great position in my industry and fought tooth and nail for every step up the ladder. My adherence to academics and my desire to learn has led to my success but there were times that I had to learn the hard way that its best to keep your mouth shut in certain situations. There were times where someone may have done something different than me with the same end result. Because I thought I knew everything, I ended up offending that person. I had to work tirelessly to win the person’s respect once again.
That incident led me to understand a few things about the working world as opposed to school. In school, people respect a competitive drive to know more than another person, but in the working world there is a sense of respect. Respect is gained not through how much one knows, but how one works cooperatively with others to attain a positive end result. Ultimately, this is what gives me the drive to get out of bed and to the job site each morning. Working cooperatively with others makes it all worth it at the end of the day. When the project is done and you can share a beer with your crew, there is a sense of comradery that is unmatched in other fields.
This does not mean that there are not days when you want to pull your hair out. Times when subcontractors don’t show up, materials don’t arrive on time or arrive damaged, and poor workmanship have caused many gray hairs on my thirty year old head. The job is stressful, and I would rate it a twelve on a stress scale of one to ten on some days, although I feel that I’m compensated well. I make a comfortable living and am able to support a family of four while being the sole income provider. I generally have at least two weeks per year of vacation time that is paid for by the company, which I believe is ample. Along with the paid vacation, we get all federal holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Because of such good pay and benefits, I have friends that ask about project management. At the time, the construction industry is in a recovery phase and slowly making a comeback. Project management jobs are on the rise and should continue to do so as the economy recovers. Hopefully, in five years I will have moved out of the field work of project management and into upper management within the company. There is more to construction work than meets the eye.
This is a true story as told to JustJobs Academy, where you can find great career advice like how to know yourself both in and out of the office, and how to come to work prepared for anything. Visit to find more tips or a career interview in your desired field today.