Project Manager

at Heavy Concrete and Industrial Water/Wastewater Contractor


- Fargo, North Dakota

- 8/26/20
Job/Career Demand
Positive Impact
Work-Life Balance
Compensation & Benefits
Work Environment
Total Compensation
$65,000 - $200,000
Years of experience
Recommended Education
Associate's Degree

What education would you recommend?

Any concrete experience, 2-year Construction-based education at a Tech school, estimating experience, OSHA (safety) training

Describe the path you took to become a project manager

I graduated from NDSU with a construction management degree then worked in the field for 2-3 years directly under a superintendent, tracking quantities and pushing subcontractors to stay on track. I also helped a little bit with estimates and material ordering. After about 3 years, they brought me back to our main office to project manage jobs and estimate future potential projects.

What's a day in the life of a project manager?

During the work day, I work in the office doing a lot of coordination with other subcontractors and suppliers who fulfill different scopes of a particular project. I work with our on-site superintendent (head manager on-site) to make sure we have the proper materials on-site to keep him busy without flooding the site with excess materials we don’t need at the time. I track productivity to make sure we are staying under our budget (from our original bid) and also do frequent schedule updates to ensure all parties are on the same page. At night I work on estimates for future jobs. We pursue mostly government or municipal contracts (hard bids), so the lowest number is usually awarded the job.

What's the best part of being a project manager?

Beating the budget and schedule and doing so without pissing off our field guys, the engineers, owners, subcontractors, or vendors, which is nearly impossible. The training seminars and expos we get to attend are usually really fun too. The pay is great also.

What are some perks of your job?

Our company sends its employees to a variety of different expos and training seminars in cool destinations once the person has established themself as a valuable team member. We have regular holiday parties, BBQs, and other events such as golf outings and trap shooting tournaments that are a lot of fun as well. Our PTO is limited when you’re just starting, but loosens up a bit after you’ve worked a few years.

What's the downside of being a project manager? Words of caution?

It’s a lot of work. You work with a lot of people from all walks of life, so it’s damn near impossible to keep everybody happy while trying to stay under budget and on schedule.

What's the earning potential? Entry-level? Mid-level? Senior-level?

Laborers start around $16/hr minimum depending on the area but can make up to $50/hr in some states. Project managers usually range from $55,000-$150,000

Advice on how to get started as a project manager

Just show up to a job site and get hired on as a laborer. If you work hard enough, your talent and effort should get recognized rather quickly as there are a lot of bums who work in construction. If you express interest in climbing the ladder, most companies will usually recognize that and give you an opportunity. Doing this, you can definitely become a superintendent, which means really good money. A 2-year degree would help a lot to make the jump from sure to Project Manager but is not completely necessary if you prove you are competent managing people and interpreting plans

What skills are needed to be a project manager?

Work ethic, plan reading, estimating, surveying, concrete, pipe-fitting, heavy machine operating, etc

What's work/industry culture like?

We see people of all different descents. Sometimes the language barrier can be tricky to navigate but we make due. All are welcome.

What's important to understand for your specific region?

There are a lot of jobs out there, but jumping from job to job to chase a buck isn’t always your best option. Sometimes it’s better to build some rapport with one company and climb the corporate ladder instead of being viewed as a “jumper.”

Advice on how to get promoted

Hard work and reliability

What's the future outlook for a project manager?

Our industry is very steady. We always joke that as long as people keep drinking water and using the toilet, we’ll be in business. Whenever the country falls into a recession, usually, the first place federal funding goes to is infrastructure work because it creates a lot of jobs. Water purification and waste management are about as essential as it gets.


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