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Civil Engineering Basics for Construction Management

Construction is one of the largest industries in the global economy, according to a McKinsey report. It accounts for 13% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), or about $10 trillion in annual spending on construction goods and services.

Northern Kentucky University’s online Master of Business Administration (MBA) program prepares graduates to meet the demand for construction managers in this massive industry.

Just as civil engineers require construction knowledge, construction managers need to understand civil engineering concepts to communicate effectively and meet project specifications. NKU’s MBA online program offers a Construction Management track that equips graduates with the professional skills to drive collaboration and project success.

What Does Construction Management Involve?

Construction managers oversee building projects from concept through completion, intending to stay on schedule and budget. The construction management process typically involves five phases:

  1. Pre-design or concept
  2. Design
  3. Procurement
  4. Construction
  5. Post-construction

Famous construction failures highlight the need to understand engineering basics. Why did a suspension bridge across Puget Sound collapse shortly after completion? Nobody had accounted for the impact of wind on the design. The Hancock Tower became another cautionary tale when a design flaw required replacing over 10,000 windows. Then there was the building’s dangerous sway.

Like engineers, construction managers need to understand factors related to safety and design standards. Construction managers team with engineers to analyze feasibility, discuss challenges and solutions, review cost estimates and timelines and refine plans. Effective collaboration relies on strong communication skills, a top MBA skill set according to GMAC’s 2022 Corporate Recruiters Survey.

What Is the Benefit of an MBA With a Construction Management Track?

MBA programs typically emphasize core subjects such as accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, information systems, operations, business law and leadership. However, NKU’s MBA program supports specific career advancement goals.

Coursework in the Construction Management track expands managerial skills in the following areas:

Contract Administration for Construction Projects: A thorough understanding of contracts can help construction managers minimize disputes and control risk. This course covers contract essentials such as risk sharing and allocation, contract administration, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and legal principles for contract interpretation.

Advanced Controls for the Construction Project: “Triple constraint” refers to the interdependence of cost, time and quality. If stakeholders want to speed up a project, for example, how does that affect cost and quality? Students gain tools and techniques to manage the triple constraint. Topics include quality management, time/cost interaction, cash flow considerations and project progress using the Earned Value approach.

Managing Risk in Construction: Effective risk management can make the difference between success and failure. This course prepares students to understand different approaches to evaluating and prioritizing risks, including tools to track identified risks.

Students can also supplement from other stacks to sharpen related skills. Complex supply chain challenges in construction can result in major delays, not to mention increased operating costs, payment delays, lost revenue and damage claims. NKU’s MBA Global Supply Chain Management stack offers multiple courses to boost critical supply chain skills and improve sustainability in supply chain management practices.

What Is the Earning Potential of an MBA in Construction Management?

If you are considering a graduate business degree, it makes sense to evaluate the potential return on investment. Year after year, an MBA is one of the most popular pathways to higher-paying jobs.

Salary estimates for any occupation will vary depending on the source, but the following findings support the significant earning potential for MBAs, including in construction management.

  • The S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the median annual salary for construction managers at $98,890, with the top 10% earning more than $163,800.
  • According to GMAC, new MBA hires earn a median starting salary of $115,000 — 22% to 40% higher than starting salaries for candidates with a bachelor’s.
  • eSub reports that experienced construction managers can earn about $186,000.

Whether overseeing the construction of a high-rise, an innovative water resource recovery facility or a seemingly ordinary apartment complex, a career in construction management offers one-of-a-kind opportunities to bring blueprints to life.

Earning an MBA can enhance your marketability in the high-stakes construction management field. NKU’s MBA can help you make the most of your business school experience with a custom-built program for your career ambitions.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University’s online Master of Business Administration program.

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