One of the most fulfilling administrative positions is that of an architectural project manager, who oversees building projects that often make a major impact on individual lives and the community as a whole.
Outstanding organizational skills are essential for architectural project managers, who bring an architect’s vision to fruition by overseeing all aspects of the design and construction process of a building project.
Architectural project managers are involved with the drafting of building plans, hiring general contractors, preparing construction contracts, and making sure the project is completed on budget and on time. They ensure that projects involving residential, industrial and commercial buildings meet zoning and environmental standards.
Excellent interpersonal skills are required for this job since architectural project managers interact with clients, engineers and their project managers, and construction project managers. They must be able to negotiate contracts and advocate for the architect’s design concept while serving as the construction administrator.
In addition, they must communicate effectively with other managers, including those in production, marketing, and finance, as well as outside vendors such as material and equipment contractors. Preparing budgets, hiring and supervising staff, setting schedules, developing administrative procedures, and determining equipment needs are all part of an architectural project manager’s job.
A keen eye for detail is critical to be a successful architectural project manager. A critical component of the job is to see firsthand what needs adjusting at the site. If measurements require changing or an aspect of the architect’s plan needs adjusting, it is the responsibility of the architectural project manager to recommend the necessary changes to the architect.
Most employers require project managers to have a professional degree, which is usually a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch). Students in university architecture programs study design, architectural history, construction management and building systems. Employees entering this field must complete a training period before taking the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) for state licensure.
Some architectural project managers obtain business management skills by completing a master’s degree in technology management (MSTM) or in business administration (MBA).
Although not required, many architectural project managers are now acquiring certification through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (www.ncarb.org). This certification provides them with an excellent credential showing their leadership in the field and recognizing superb service. This appeals to both current and prospective clients. NCARB only certifies candidates who meet education, licensure and training requirements.
In reviewing the minimum education requirements of several major architect agencies, among their top requirements is that a candidate must possess advanced computer knowledge of CAD-based systems. An example of a large architecture firm’s requirements can be seen on this website.
Along with having the knowledge to solve complex architectural design problems, most architectural firms want project managers who have a proficient understanding of Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing (MEP), Structural, and Site/Civil Engineering trades and their impact on the architectural design concept.
Employment Opportunities and Salary Range
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 6% growth in jobs for architectural and engineering managers from 2016 to 2026. The Bureau reports that the job growth in this sector will be as fast as the average for all occupations. More Bureau information about this field can be found at this link.
In its March 3, 2018 report, PayScale.com indicates that the median salary for architecture project managers is $70,649. According to PayScale, salaries in this field range from $48,000 to $105,000 a year. PayScale reports that it found high levels of job satisfaction from the architecture project managers they surveyed. It discovered that many managers choose to become architects or design architects as their careers advance. Additional information about PayScale’s report can be found here.
To fully succeed in this competitive field and rise to jobs that offer the highest pay level, managers must gain the professional skills and knowledge that are needed to solve complex problems, evaluate information quickly and accurately, motivate teams to meet building project goals, track worker’s performance, and make sure that schedules and budgets are being met.
It is a demanding job, but one that brings tremendous satisfaction for those who are up to the challenge of helping to create the new and renovated buildings that will enhance our cities and towns for decades to come.
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