So, what is the difference between a construction manager and a project manager? The answer can be boiled down to three main categories:
- Scope of Responsibilities
- Authority Level
Construction Manager vs. Project Manager Responsibilities
While the construction manager oversees on-site operations, such as personnel, materials, and the construction budget, project managers oversee ALL phases of the project, from marketing to administrative needs.
If we think about a construction project as a timeline, the project manager is involved from start to end, whereas the construction manager is only involved during the actual construction phase.
One key difference to note is that it is not uncommon for Project Managers to step into this role without much technical construction knowledge, whereas construction managers, almost without fail, come from a construction background. That being said, when push comes to shove, the Project Manager is the one who has more authority over the project.
Finally, these two roles are also differentiated by their focus. At the end of the day, the construction manager’s main responsibility is to make sure that the project is technically sound. The project manager, on the other hand, is more responsible for the project budget and the timeline.
Construction Manager Salary vs. Project Manager Salary
According to Payscale.com, as of January 12, 2016, the median salary for a Construction Manager in the United States is $73,561. By location, Construction Managers in San Francisco earn 42% more than the median, and Construction Managers in Phoenix earn 4% less.
Project Managers in the construction industry in the United States earn a median salary of $95,941 (data from Salary.com).
While the 90th percentile of Project Managers earn $119,000 / year, according to the report, the 90th percentile of construction managers earn $120,000 / year. So, while the median salary displays large variance, those at the top of either field may actually earn nearly the same salary.
Focus and Responsibilities:
As shown in the two job descriptions below, while responsibilities of the construction manager and the project manager are similar, their focus varies, as the construction manager focuses more on the physical construction, while the project manager deals with the project from beginning to end.
A great example of this is in the sense of the budget. Both construction managers and project managers deal with budgeting, yet the construction manager is only responsible for the budget of the physical construction, while the PMs budget may expand to marketing, client meetings, and more.
Construction Manager Job Description
Project Manager – Construction, Job Description
Source: Project Manager Job Description