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Career Spotlight: The Site Manager

Posted by: Megan Cartwright

Also known as: Construction Manager, Building Manager, Project Manager, and Site Agent. 

The Site Manager. Likely to be wearing a white helmet, hands full of rolled-up drawings and reports, and to be the first person on and last off site. The Site Manager is a complex and highly-skilled role that requires years of training and practical experience to fulfill. Here, we break down the day-to-day roles and responsibilities, the skills and qualifications required, and the rewards you could expect from this profession.

A Site Manager is responsible for overseeing and supervising a building site from Day One until the completion of the job. Sometimes a fledgling/junior Site Manager will be in charge of a portion or "package" of the site, and not the whole. The Site Manager will work at least the standard 40-50 hour week, and there might be days when early starts and late finishes are unavoidable in order to keep on top of the duties expected of the manager of a building site. 

The building site belongs to a client, and they have given the Site Manager two key resources. A budget, and a deadline. The Site Manager is responsible for ensuring that the client's specifications and requirements regarding the site are met in accordance with the budget and time allocations. Therefore, the Site Manager has to be able to plan weeks in advance, and account for the costs of materials and workers. 

Fortunately for the Site Manager, the budget will include costs to hire qualified experts who will be able to advise the Site Manager on the various important matters. This is one way a Junior Site Manager might find work, particularly on large sites where a single manager simply cannot have eyes everywhere at once. Other crucial Site Manager responsibilities include:

  • Progress reviews of the site's erection, reparation, demolition, etc.
  • Liaising with quantity surveyors to monitor costs throughout the project (this is even more important if the project is a protracted one and might take months rather than weeks)
  • Meeting with architects
  • Planning shifts around traffic and the potential noise levels of site equipment
  • Health and safety inspections of the site and all tools and equipment, before any work is performed and frequently thereafter
  • Negotiation of contracts, permits, and licences for equipment, vehicles, workers, and even noise.

While any one of these tasks might seem simple on its own, it is important to remember that many of these responsibilities will need to be repeated day after day, across large sites with dozens of workers. A Site Manager has a white helmet, but wears many hats. 

So what sort of skills does somebody need in order to become a Site Manager and oversee the plethora of tasks above? 

  • Great communication. You will be liaising with your assistants, architects, the workforce, external professionals, members of the general public. You will need to be able to articulate your aims and your views with precision. 
  • Problem solving is desirable. For example, if the site will severely slow down traffic during the day, but your vehicles and equipment would be too noisy for sleeping residents at night, how will you solve this? Can you plan ahead?
  • Teamwork and the ability to motivate others. Many of these skills link in to one another. Your ability to solve problems and provide a positive outlook on the job ahead of you and your workforce will aid you in spreading optimism across the site. 
  • I.T. is advantageous. Computers and technology are crucial in almost every industry now. It's likely that your reports, drawings, and designs will be completed using computer software. Email communication will also be important. 
  • Logistical planning. The basic necessities are vital, too: the hiring of portable toilets, of ensuring that the site has food and drink for the workforce on their breaks. How will your workforce travel to the site? Is there a carpark nearby for any drivers? 

In reality, these roles and responsibilities listed are but a handful, and it's likely that no two days as a Site Manager will ever be the same; given the variation in staff, in projects, in equipment etc., flexibility is another highly desirable trait. 

How could I become a Site Manager and what could I earn? 

In the UK, the important people to impress as a budding Site Manager are The Chartered Institute of Building, but there are equivalent organisations in most countries around the world. If you are thinking of studying at school or university to become a Site Manager, then a foundation degree, HND, or degree accredited by The Chartered Institute of Building is your ticket. These will commonly include Construction Engineering, Building Engineering, Estimating, and Civil Engineering to name but a few. If you have worked as a Site Supervisor or Surveyor previously then your experience in the construction industry will stand you in great stead to take this next step in your career. More info about this is available on the CIOB website. 

While a newly-qualified Site Manager will begin earning around £27,000, working your way up through the ranks--developing contacts and gaining a reputation for your ability to oversee a site--will inevitably lead to an increase in your salary. Senior Site Managers can command salaries between £45-50k. What's more, as you develop, you might find opportunities to act as a consultant, or a teacher in construction courses and qualifications, or even more specialist roles such as Health and Safety Inspection Officers. 

Take a look at our current Site Manager roles and see if one is right for you! 

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