Construction Management positions - confused about "roles"!

<p>Hey all, long time no post. Basically I'm a Civil student wanting to concentrate on Construction Management, but after a couple weeks of interning, I find myself with more questions than answers. Mainly, I've been presented with a bunch of different roles within the company. Walking on-site, the guy giving me the tour calls himself the "supervisor". The guy in the office is the "project manager". Looking online, I see that there are also "site engineers", "project engineer" and even "design engineer" positions listed.</p>

<p>It's a bit blurry knowing what all these guys do.. I've tried reading descriptions online, but they are very vague about what they do. My goal is to avoid dealing with the legal issues/money jargon in my career, and preserve some ability to design/engineer! Here's what I gathered so far (although it's an international internship, should be similar...)</p>

<p>Supervisor - makes sure the workers on-site are following the correct procedures by carrying on-hand the diagrams/plans, dimensions on drawing must match up with what they're actually building
Project Manager - purely office work, he sets up the timeline (Gantt Chart) and follows the progress of the project. Little on-hands work, and does most of the communicating with the client/subcontractors/other people.</p>

<p>Site Engineer - ??
Project Engineer - ??
Design Engineer - ??</p>

<p>Well **** I just wrote a 15 minute response and it got erased...</p>

<p>Basically it varies company to company and depends on what size your company is. I have worked at smaller companies >50M a year in revenue. </p>

<p>From my experience:
Project Engineer: This is the starting level position and do lots of paper work. Work at the home office or site on one or more jobs. Get submittials, do RFI/Issues, Warranties, Closeouts, and other similar tasks. Assist PM's and supers.</p>

<p>Project Manager: Typically manages one or more jobs, depends on the size. They handle the money aspect of the projects, pay applications COR's ect. Also can do RFI's/Issues. Depending on your company may do scheduling, some estimating, value engineering, and scopes of prospective jobs.</p>

<p>Superintendent: Works on site and basically runs the day to day operations of a job. Gets assistance from the PE and reports to PM. Can do scheduling, and value engineering and some paperwork like RFI's/Issues, writes daily reportss ect.</p>

<p>There are also assistant superintendents/ PMs for some companies and you basically gather what they do. Larger companies can have scheduling, estimating (most do have estimating departments), safety, claims, and other departments.</p>

<p>From what I gather regarding ownership / principles, basically the PM's report to them and they spend most of their time on client relations and acquiring new jobs.</p>

<p>It does vary from company to company, but its still mostly the same as what kyleand said, with few exceptions (I work for a company with a revenue of $1.5B in the local area).</p>

<p>In my company, there are two main branches: field supervision and project management. One does not report to the other; they work hand in hand together. The general superintendent and the senior project manager report to the project executive or project director. In theory, the project executive/director reports to ownership, but they typically don't get involved in every little issue. They're the ones usually getting more work for the company.</p>

<p>Project managers are mainly involved in the contracts and other paperwork (as kyleand mentioned above). They get involved whenever there's an impact to cost. PM's usually manage the long-term scheduling.</p>

<p>Superintendents are responsible for all field issues. The job has to be built per contract documents. They're involved in the short-term scheduling. Coordination and safety are major aspects of their jobs.</p>

<p>Cyrone, do you work for a firm that also does design in addition to construction management? Pure CM firms wouldn't have a "design engineer." I don't think construction management is the right field for you if you want to engineer or design anything.</p>

<p><i>Well **** I just wrote a 15 minute response and it got erased...</i></p>

<p>D:</p>

<p>I've learned a couple things from what you said, a) project engineer tends to be the starting position, and I'm cool with that. But it still doesn't seem like there's math/engineering involved, and what are RFI's/submittals..? b) larger companies will have dedicated people! Only time Project Managers will do estimating for example, is if it's a smaller company..</p>

<p><i>Cyrone, do you work for a firm that also does design in addition to construction management? Pure CM firms wouldn't have a "design engineer." I don't think construction management is the right field for you if you want to engineer or design anything.</i></p>

<p>Yes, our firm has an architecture department in addition to structural engineers, managers, etc. The only thing I'm worried about is facing all the legal issues and claims that I keep running into in the paperwork, it feels very stressful and now I understand why people say it's stressful...</p>

<p>There is very little engineering in construction management (project engineers are engineers by title only). If anything, you might make suggestions to the engineer, but you don't do any of the engineering yourself.</p>

<p>You will run into legal issues and claims whether you are a project manager of superintendent. It's a part of the industry. Heck, I took an entire course in construction law in grad school. There are even law firms out there who specialize only in construction.</p>

<p>It is indeed a very stressful field, but most people learn to deal with it.</p>

<p>There is very little engineering in construction management (project engineers are engineers by title only). If anything, you might make suggestions to the engineer, but you don't do any of the engineering yourself.</p>

<p>If thats the case, I may want to stick to Environmental as my focus... (I'm stuck between Enviro and CM). I just feel like there won't be as many jobs with it than management. But my main Q is, what does a Civil do if (s)he doesn't want to do structural? Calculating beam loads etc doesn't seem like my thing, and I feel like the architects are the ones who do the rest of the designing. I'm just lost as to what an "ordinary" Civil guy does.</p>

<p>My father-in-law went to school for engineering. Dropped out before his last semester to become a construction project manager and now has his own construction business. He says he never really uses any of the stuff he learned through his degree plan and he says any complicated math he has to do he just plugs the numbers into a computer program and it pops out the answer.</p>

<p>I don't know Ken. I think it depends on a lot of factors for the stress level. My father-in-law doesn't seem stressed about his job at all. He loves his life because he is his own boss, controls his own work hours, does something he enjoys, and is relatively secure considering that he's whethered the recession just fine. Location is important. He is in south central Texas, which is not robust or anything, but there is still moderate growth happening down here. Also, I think he doesn't have the cutthroat competition he would have in a place like New York.</p>

<p>
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He says he never really uses any of the stuff he learned through his degree plan

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</p>

<p>I've used some of the stuff I learned in school in construction management. It depends on what aspect of construction you're involved in and what construction related courses you've taken. If you only have a general civil engineering degree and are managing the interiors part of the job, there won't be much, if any, overlap between your education and your work. However, if you're managing the structural aspect or if you've taken courses related to construction management, your education will come in handy.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I don't know Ken. I think it depends on a lot of factors for the stress level. My father-in-law doesn't seem stressed about his job at all. He loves his life because he is his own boss, controls his own work hours, does something he enjoys, and is relatively secure considering that he's whethered the recession just fine. Location is important. He is in south central Texas, which is not robust or anything, but there is still moderate growth happening down here. Also, I think he doesn't have the cutthroat competition he would have in a place like New York.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>You might have a point there that stress in construction depends on a few factors. I'd imagine working on smaller lower profile projects wouldn't cause as much stress as putting up skyscrapers for billionaire developers. Everything is also built faster in NYC. It's the only place in the country that has two-day cycles (in concrete buildings, we put up a floor every other day), while typically it's four day cycles. Millions of dollars can be on the line for liquidated damages. The more pressure there is on time and money, the more stress there's going to be.</p>

<p>
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I'm just lost as to what an "ordinary" Civil guy does.

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</p>

<p>Civil engineering is a pretty diverse field, with no single "ordinary" job. Graduates typically go on to construction management, structural engineering, environmental engineering, transportation engineering, geotechnical engineering or water resources. What courses have you taken that you've enjoyed? What attracted you towards civil engineering?</p>

<p>Can someone please give me a conclusion of the job of a structural engineerer ?</p>

<p>What about structural engineers?</p>

<p>Thanks Ken - I suppose I went "into it" for the structural part. But after being exposed to it, I don't feel confident in my abilities to calculate how thick a column etc. should be. Despite the fact that I've gotten straight B's in all 4 mechanics courses at the #2 CEE school in USA. Should I be more confident when I go "out there"?</p>

<p>I can still do that, but, point is my concentration will remain in Management & Environmental.</p>

<p>Aladdin - architects work with the owner to draw up the floor plans/building designs of a building. But afterwards, for the columns/beams holding the building together they bring it to structural engineers and ask them what dimensions/what material they should be.</p>

<p>Aladdin,</p>

<p>My father is a Structural Engineer and as he say - It is all about making the details.</p>

<p>Thank you kyleand.</p>