In construction, both project managers and superintendents are vital to keep your project on schedule and within budget. While they sometimes share responsibilities, both bring different skills, experiences, and expertise to a project. So what exactly is a construction superintendent vs project manager? In this article, we explain the differences between these professionals, their roles on a construction site, and more. 

What is a Construction Project Manager?


In construction, a project manager is responsible for the administrative rollout, oversight, and completion of a construction project. Essentially, project managers are responsible for almost everything from planning, budgeting, scheduling, managing resources, tracking progress, to closing the project on time. 


Project management is typically a job that is done in the office rather than on the construction site. Many project managers oversee multiple projects at the same time. Additionally, they’ll communicate with stakeholders and clients throughout the duration of the project. It’s safe to say that organization is an essential skill for these professionals! 


Some Duties of a Project Manager During Construction




  • Planning- Creating a comprehensive plan is a vital first step for the project’s success. In this step, project managers can plan things like the technical design, schedule, budget, duties of crew members, as well as plans for acquiring resources. 

  • Schedule- Scheduling is perhaps the most critical aspect of a project manager’s duties. Project managers create an initial schedule that usually includes a list of activities, deliverables, and milestones within a project. Although project managers create initial schedules during pre-construction, the schedule will always be in flux and subject to change based on real-time circumstances. 

  • Budget- Setting an initial budget is an important part of pre-construction. In this step, project managers calculate the total projected costs that go into the project. Factors to consider when making the budget include labor costs, operating costs, resource costs, and more. 

  • Acquire Permits- Also during pre-construction, project managers work to secure the proper permits to ensure the project is to code. 

  • Assign Tasks- Projects are all made up of smaller tasks. One job of a project manager is to assign these tasks to available team members and manage them throughout the project.



  • Monitor Progress- Throughout the construction of the project, project managers monitor the progress of many different aspects of the project such as the schedule, budget, and resources to ensure the project is on track.

  • Manage Resources- After planning, allocating, and/or scheduling resources for the project, construction managers monitor their progress to ensure the project stays on schedule and within budget.

  • Manage and Adjust Budget and Schedule- Throughout the duration of the project, project managers continually manage and adjust the budget and schedule.

  • Communicate with Stakeholders and Clients- Project managers are often tasked with communicating with clients and stakeholders before and during construction. They’ll often discuss designs, project expectations, budget, and more with clients and stakeholders. 





*Closeout is a multi-step, final phase of construction in which a project is prepared to be handed over to the owner.



  • Arranging Inspections- As part of the closeout process, project managers often plan and arrange final inspections of the project. 



  • Managing any Closeout Documents- As you might imagine, there are a lot of documents involved in closing out a project. Project managers are tasked with managing those documents so that they are prepared and ready for handover to the client. Some closeout documents might include: Redline drawings, as-built/ final construction drawings, warranties, punch lists, wavers, reports, operation manuals and more. 



  • Managing Handover- The last step for project managers is to manage project handover. “Handover” is the process of giving the project and all of its responsibilities over to the client. Essentially, the project managers work to ensure the smooth handover of the project and all of its completed tasks. 




On average, project managers earn around $88,500 per year. This figure can change depending on experience ranging from around $57,000 to around $140,000.

How to Become a Project Manager



Project managers typically have a bachelor’s degree. Although there isn’t a specific required major, many project managers studied related subjects such as business management, marketing, IT, engineering, or construction management. Of course, the best major to choose is one that is related to the specific industry you plan to work in. For example, if you plan to work as a construction project manager, construction management is an excellent major choice.


Project managers may opt to get certified in order to advance their career or stand out amongst job applicants. Sometimes, these certifications may even be required by prospective employers. You can obtain certification through many different online courses, including the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) and the Project Management Professional (PMP) certifications offered through the Project Management Institute.



What is a Construction Superintendent?


A construction superintendent is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations on a construction site. These professionals manage the construction crew, monitor safety, work quality, and more. Unlike project managers, construction superintendents work directly with construction crews and contractors on-site. 



Some Duties of a Construction Superintendent During Construction






  • Review plans and Assess project’s practical constructability- Construction superintendent’s are typically greatly experienced in the practical side of building a project. Because of this, an important duty of a superintendent during pre-construction is to review and assess the plans put forth by engineers, architects, and project managers to ensure the project’s constructability.  

  • Hire/select crew- Construction superintendents work closely with the crew and part of their duties before construction is to hire a capable team. Throughout the project, the superintendent will manage and communicate with their selected crew. 


  • Oversee Onsite Operations- During construction, superintendents personally oversee onsite operations to ensure the project is running smoothly, safely, and on schedule. 

  • Safety Inspections- Superintendents attend safety inspections and make sure that the crew is aware of and follows all safety protocols.

  • Communication with Crew- One of the most important roles of a construction superintendent is to communicate with the construction crew and others involved in the project. Superintendents normally have daily meetings with crew members and regularly meet with project managers, architects, engineers, electricians, and other specialists.

  • Coordinate Resources- Another duty of a construction superintendent is to coordinate, order, and manage resources such as equipment, tools and materials. 

  • Communication with Project Managers- Project managers and superintendents meet regularly during construction to ensure that the project is running smoothly from an administrative and practical standpoint.



*Closeout is a multi-step, final phase of construction in which a project is prepared to be handed over to the owner.


  • Assist in Closeout Documentation- As we said before, closeout can get complicated. Superintendents can use their many years of experience to assist with closeout documents – like redline drawings, as-built/ final construction drawings, warranties, punch lists, wavers, reports, operation manuals and more. 

  • Attend Final Inspections-  Just as they did throughout the project, superintendents often attend final inspections to make sure everything is wrapped up correctly.

  • Manage Punch List- In construction, a punch list is a document that lists all of the tasks that need to be completed in order to finish the project. During closeout, superintendents typically manage this punch list

  • Assist in Handover- “Handover” is the process of giving the project and all of its responsibilities over to the client. During this phase, superintendents can assist the project manager to ensure the smooth handover of the project and all of its completed tasks. 


The average salary for a construction superintendent sits at around $93,800 per year. However depending on location, experience and other factors their salary can range from around $60,000 to as high as $150,000 per year.


How to Become a Superintendent


Education/ Certification

Unlike project managers, most employers do not require superintendents to have a bachelor’s degree. However, some may require a high school diploma or equivalent. Superintendents are normally hired based on experience and it is common for employers to require 4 or more years of construction field experience. Like project managers, superintendents may complete a certificate program to boost their career.


Working Together

While superintendents and project managers differ in important ways, their unique expertise and viewpoints can be combined for strong project results. Project managers bring an in depth understanding of the schedule, budget, and administrative side of the project. Superintendents bring practical expertise to the project as well as the ability to act as a liaison between upper management and the crew. By working together, these professionals can ensure a productive and smooth construction project from start to finish. 



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