Is Engineering & Construction a Good Career Path?

construction engineering

As society continues to adopt the transforming technologies of the 21st-century, innovators are asking themselves how to best harness the power of technology to fabricate a stronger and more durable society. With the growing concern for aging infrastructure, increasing global population and needing solutions to combat climate change, the disciplines of engineering and construction are found at the forefront of many of these issues.

Engineering and construction are two sides of the same coin; they work in tandem with one another to bring forth real-life solutions. It is precisely the disciplines of engineering as applied to construction that ensure safe, efficient and sustainable infrastructure.

The diversifying needs of society on a global scale have charted an excellent career path for those wishing to pursue a career in engineering and construction.

Let’s explore what engineering and construction is, what the roles and responsibilities are in the field, how to emerge as a leader, the kind of education needed to succeed and why it is an excellent career path.


Where Engineering and Construction Meet: What is Construction Management?

bridge beams
Construction management is needed to deliver a quality project on-time, on-budget and with zero injuries.

Construction management is the field in which engineering and construction are combined to create various types of buildings and infrastructure. It is the art of directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the project life-cycle. Construction management ensures structures are safe and meet all the required codes and specifications. Furthermore, construction management is needed to deliver a quality project on-time, on-budget and with zero injuries.

Present-day construction management typically directs the following four primary areas:

  • Management of the physical production phase or construction management site;
  • Management of the functions that comprise and contribute to the delivery of products;
  • Management of corporate establishments involved in the delivery of constructed facilities and services or organizational management;
  • Management of the industry to create an effective and efficient commercial, regulatory and conducive environment.

What Does a Construction Manager Do?

engineers reviewing plans

Construction managers collaborate closely with architects, engineers and construction personnel to coordinate all activities in the life-cycle of a given project. As they move through the project life-cycle, construction managers monitor the project progress and budget updates to the client. Furthermore, construction managers seek ways to adopt new construction technologies and software and management principles to understand and solve challenges confronting the construction industry.

Construction managers oversee the various categories of project management and the multiple sub-processes of a project life-cycle. They manage various stakeholder functions including:

  • Determining the scope and budget of the project
  • Design management
  • Assigning roles, responsibilities and the management structure of management teams
  • Risk management
  • Productivity management
  • Management of resources including labor, equipment, subcontractors and suppliers
  • Budgetary control Legal issues/concerns
  • Health and safety management and education
  • Management of environmental impact

What Does a Construction Management Career Look Like?

A construction management career can be very diverse with varying job opportunities based on skills and interests. Candidates that are equipped with an advanced degree are especially poised to assume a plethora of career opportunities. Below are 9 examples of engineering careers in construction management:

How to Become a Construction Manager

unfinished bridge

Construction managers are leaders and innovators at the intersection of engineering and construction. In order to be successful in a construction management role, there are several integral qualities that are needed to excel in the field.

Below are three essential skills needed to be a construction manager:

  1. Leadership: Construction managers must have the ability to delegate, motivate others and think proactively. When managing and facilitating multiple different operations, construction managers must have the resolve to effectively lead stakeholders through the entire project life cycle to ensure accurate execution.
  2. Adaptivity: It is no secret that projects can change on a dime. That is why being able to quickly change with the demands of a project and adopt newer methodologies as they come is imperative to success.
  3. Communication: There are many moving parts to construction miscommunication in construction management that can have severe consequences.

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Construction Manager?

engineering pointing to job site

100 percent internship
and professional placement

Construction management is an intricate field that calls for leaders that are both highly skilled and well-educated in principles and methodologies. Depending upon your areas of interest, the degree needed to break into construction management may vary.

However, in this fast-paced and in-demand field, more employers are choosing candidates with graduate-level and above credentials over those who stop at the undergraduate level.

A master’s degree program with a concentration in construction management will equip you with specialized expertise to become a sought-after candidate in the field.

Vanderbilt School of Engineering’s master of engineering in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management is recognized by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) for its outstanding curriculum and education of current best practices and research.

Furthermore, Vanderbilt School of Engineering’s master of engineering in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management graduates boasts a 100 percent internship and professional placement.


Investing in Your Master of Engineering Degree: Is Construction Management a Good Career?

cranes above buildings

When considering a career path to embark on, it is important to consider the nature of numerous factors including the career outlook, average salary, job responsibilities, required education etc. Construction manager is an excellent career—especially for those entering the field equipped with a master’s degree.

Below are the four reasons that construction management is a good career to pursue:

  1. Job Security

    Job Security Construction management jobs are expected to rise 8% over the next decade—which is faster than the national average. That is over 41,500 jobs added each year until 2031!

  2. Opportunities for career advancement

    Due to the array of responsibilities in construction management, opportunities for specialization are abundant. Construction managers with graduate-level degrees will have the ability to work in a variety of fields and on projects of a larger scale.

  3. High-paying salary

    Construction managers are compensated very well for their expertise. The median salary of construction managers in 2022 was $101,480.

    Average starting salary for Vanderbilt University Master of Engineering graduates in 2021 was $70,000.

  4. Dynamic & Innovative work tasks

    Construction management no longer simply involves the physical—it is a technological field. This is paving the way forward for an exciting, dynamic and innovative work setting for construction managers.

    One of the main topics of discussion regarding innovations in construction management is smart infrastructure. Smart infrastructure technology is changing the interface of construction management. These advanced cyber-physical systems are elevating new infrastructure to exceed efficiency, sustainability, productivity and safety objectives.

    The next generation of construction managers will answer the call to incorporate these technologies to engineer and build a better future for generations to come.

Develop the Solutions of Tomorrow By Earning your Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering with a Concentration in Construction Management

woman with hard hat writing notes

Built on the fundamentals of civil engineering, this program strives to balance the latest development in construction technologies and software, and management principles in order to understand and solve the broad range of challenges confronting the construction industry and the built environment.


Vanderbilt School of Engineering offers areas of emphasis in the following:

  • Healthcare Construction
  • Project Delivery Systems
  • Project Life-cycle Analysis
  • Project Schedule Reduction Techniques
  • Construction Contracts

New Innovations at the Intersection of Engineering and Construction are Emerging — Are You Ready To Become a Part of These Next-Generation Solutions?

Help lead the charge in ensuring that our fundamental private and public facilities are engineered to the highest standards of safety, sophistication and sustainability. Set in motion your path to a career in construction management with a master of engineering in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management at Vanderbilt School of Engineering.

If you are interested in further exploring our master of engineering degrees, you can request more information to get in touch with our graduate admissions team. You can also view our program page or our resource library to learn more about program requirements and courses. If you are ready to begin your career in construction management, apply today!

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