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Old 04-21-2010, 10:30 PM
 
409 posts, read 1,621,997 times
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What is the best college degree for Construction Management / Contracting ...?

This is the background info of my question...

While I was working in the residential construction industry in Houston (Finance Analyst) I noticed a trend in many small construction companies. The owners or main contractors had no college education, others did not even a high school diploma. These were the small construction companies and independent contractors that worked for bigger construction companies and/or real estate developers.

I happened to work for one of those small companies. The owner of the company had 1 year experience in general carpentry and a high school diploma when he started the business. Six months later he was taking care of the framing and roofing of 8-10 custom build houses a month! I do realize most people that work in this field don't get so lucky, and are not fast learners such as this guy but I was amazed. He was making ALOOOOT of money fast with no college degree and had minimal previous experience in the field.

All these things got me thinking about starting a contracting business my self. The construction managers of the big companies had decent salaries. I asked 3 of them, all from different companies and they ranged in the 85K to 105K with bonuses for efficiency. The three guys I spoke with did not have Construction related degrees, they were just experienced.

My questions are, is this the norm? Is it all about experience and risk taking in the construction/contracting business? Or is education important?

I asked the owner of a residential development company what his priorities were when hiring constructions superintendents and he said he did not care for the degree, he just needed experienced people that got his results. Again, is this the norm? Don't they have to be certified to be able to do this? (I did not ask him this)

What do you think about this? Is a degree in construction management, project management, or other a smart way to go to get started in this field? Or is it better to learn the ropes of the trade by experience?

Assuming that getting Education is the right way to go, what degree do you recommend and what schools?
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Old 04-21-2010, 11:09 PM
 
19 posts, read 77,668 times
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Greetings Atreidi,

I happen to reside in Houston as well. Currently I am working towards my BS in CM. I have/had the same curiosity as you and came to a decision. Go for the degree and finish what I started. Regardless what happens in business I believe an educational background and will enhance your sales pitch a bit more appealing considering you have the expierence as well. The University of Houston has restructured its CM program to be nationally accredited and recongnized. I know this because I spoke and met with the program director Dr. Eldin which restructured the whole thing to make the program more recongnized. Before deciding what my options were there are about 4 schools to choose. The University of Sam Houston (Huntsville, The University of Houston (Houston), Texas Southern University (Houston) and Texas A&M. Sam Houston's program was decent, however didn't have much to offer. Their main forte happens to gears towards Criminal Justice in my opinion. Texas Southern University can't stay off the news long enough for them to stay out of trouble in addition the program layout looks terrible. This brought it down to UH and A&M. A&M has a strong construction program, but costs more and I heard it was a bit more competitive. Dr. Eldin use to be a director at A&M at one point and migrated to UH to reform it's program. He added necessary classes to help spruce up it's imagine and got it approved to be accredited. In addition, what I like about the structure is that it caters to the working class. A majority of the classes are evenings so it fits quite well if you are employed full-time.


In conclusion, I am going to pursue my BS at UH and have met with Dr. Eldin who was really helpful. I advise you make an appointment to talk to him.
However, if you have any questions feel free to DM or post on here hopefully I can help.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:25 AM
 
536 posts, read 1,171,489 times
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My sister has a construction management degree from Michigan State. She then worked her way up to construction manager, through estimating and other jobs, and now she runs her own commercial sites. She is paid over 100K + bonuses.

I say go for the degree. She learned other things in school, such as estimating, software etc. that helped her. Although I must admit she did know someone at her first job that helped her land the interview. But her degree and hard work took her the rest of the way. She started in the office and eventually started working on job sites. She is only in her mid 30's.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:44 AM
 
Location: Small Town USA Population about 15,000
442 posts, read 512,959 times
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ScreenName: I have a question, as you are going through this 4 year program, did you ever ove think of going to a 2 year to just get the cm degree?
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:11 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
14,518 posts, read 21,161,315 times
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The lack of a formal education is more common and accepted in small scale residential construction, but if you want to go into commercial and institutional construction it will be much more difficult to work your way up into a construction management or leadership position without a formal education. The skills required in those positions are demand much more then just a background in the trades.

In general, even in residential construction, those with related degrees almost always end up earning more then those without. Think about it from a employers perspective. Do you want to entrust the preparation of a bid for a complicated project on an employee who has mostly only experience swinging a hammer or someone who has a construction management education?
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:38 PM
 
19 posts, read 77,668 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trnsplntfrmNV View Post
ScreenName: I have a question, as you are going through this 4 year program, did you ever ove think of going to a 2 year to just get the cm degree?
As a matter of fact I already have an AAS in CM. However, I didn't really learn much from it. I wanted to further my knowledge plus meet people at a University instead of limiting myself at a Community college where no one really cared to much about anything. I'm really furthering my education because my job is paying for a portion of it and I get to meet and network with professors and students.

Why do you ask? I'm curious myself.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Small Town USA Population about 15,000
442 posts, read 512,959 times
Reputation: 190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Screen name View Post
As a matter of fact I already have an AAS in CM. However, I didn't really learn much from it. I wanted to further my knowledge plus meet people at a University instead of limiting myself at a Community college where no one really cared to much about anything. I'm really furthering my education because my job is paying for a portion of it and I get to meet and network with professors and students.

Why do you ask? I'm curious myself.
My next to oldest son went to ITT and did wonderful there in two years, the drawback is the credits do not transfer and I am not sure now as I write this if it is an AA or Bach degree in cm, he received his in IT.
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Old 04-22-2010, 08:21 PM
 
409 posts, read 1,621,997 times
Reputation: 318
Quote:
Originally Posted by Screen name View Post
I didn't really learn much from it. .
This is the main reason I created this post. I don't want to enroll in a program/University were I am not going to learn anything. Since I do not have the background
in construction it is really important for me to enroll in a college that will really give me the basic knowledge that is needed to get started in construction industry.

From what I've researched, it appears that the University of Denver has a good Construction Management program with hands on training and many internship opportunities. Any of you know anything about this?
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:20 PM
 
19 posts, read 77,668 times
Reputation: 17
Yes. Denver has a GREAT program in my opinion. That or Michigan State. However, I couldn't justify moving across the states and paying about 80 grand to enter their program. With that money spent I minus will consider Med school. But hey if you have the opportunity and money than go!

The Community College I attended was pretty much a joke. I've been to school 3 times. This time around is my third and I feel that school is just a tool. You can have any tool you want it's just a matter of how you to use it. It'll teach you the bare minimal, the real knowledge is on the field and through mentors and experience. Unless you plan to go to med school or are majoring in some professional degree such as Engineering I wouldn't splurge too much on this degree. Remember time is money. The more time you're in school and "learning" you are wasting gaining real world experience.
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:16 AM
 
1 posts, read 16,893 times
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Anybody have any opinions or knowledge about Kansas State or Iowa State for the programs in Construction Management? I have been accepted to both, and I can't decide between the two. Thanks
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