Education, Experience Vital to Become Architectural Project Manager

The role of an architectural project manager is one of oversight responsibility to ensure compliance with overall goals. In general terms, that means four broad areas fall under the jurisdiction of the project manager: Scope, time, budget and quality control. The basic responsibility of any project manager is to meet the predefined objective; in the case of an architectural project, that most often means getting a building constructed in compliance with the plans and specifications.

Bachelor's Degree
More than 5 years
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
On large projects, there may be an in-house project manager in addition to an on-site construction manager. Commercial projects often have layers of management, with one or more junior project managers reporting to a chief or team leader. Responsibilities may be differently defined by architectural firms as well, depending on individual needs. More in-depth knowledge of construction techniques, code compliance and client liaison, as well as the previously-defined responsibilities may be necessary.

Project management tools exist — flow charts, computer scheduling and tracking software, cost comparison and quality control programs are all helpful and widely used by architects to control and assess their work.

Necessary Training and Experience

Most architects require an architectural degree, and professional licensure is advisable. Some job descriptions also request advanced degrees and extensive experience. An interest in design and aesthetics is of benefit, but the job of project manager is broader in that it requires coordination of a wide variety of diverse concerns.

In addition, some on-site construction knowledge is desirable. Knowledge of math and computer skills, and people skills including the ability to communicate effectively, to mediate disagreements and motivate to high achievement are important.

Anyone interested in architectural project management should have a capacity for detail work.

Required Qualities

Three qualities necessary for the professional architectural project manager are:

  1. The innate ability to think logically
  2. Willingness and ability to meet a challenge, and
  3. The capacity to always be a team player

The article states that if you are considering architectural project management as a career, you will obtain a master’s degree or higher.

Salary range, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics is from $43,000 to $120,000.

Employment Outlook

Future growth of the field, according to the Employment Outlook Handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is termed “slower than average,” for the term 2010 through 2020, with a growth of nine percent. That doesn’t necessarily mean that if you are seriously interested in the field, you should change your focus. It does mean that you should consult with professionals, study diligently, and prepare well so that you have the requisite courses, skills, and experience to excel. Interning with an architectural firm, working part-time for an architect, engineer, or construction company, volunteering on design teams or with construction-related non-profits, reading and familiarizing yourself with management, bidding, energy-saving and cost-reducing practices all would assist you in achieving your goals.

Outlook for the Future

Because the field is tied to construction and development, the economic forecast should be considered if you are considering a career in architecture or construction, particularly in project management. In a sense, it is a specialized field, niche employment that depends upon the availability of projects requiring the services of a full-time professional manager.

Architectural project managers possess many of the same skills as construction managers, but as a general rule more specialized education may be required, i.e., the architecture degree.

Options Do Exist

If, after serious consideration, you conclude that the educational and experience requirements may be too stringent, you might consider the related field of construction management. Such employees are needed on projects of all sizes and description, from residential to public works, and in small town America as well as abroad. College programs are available, but on-site experience is deemed invaluable. Pursuing that goal offers another viable option in a related field.

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