The Difference Between a Builder and a Construction Manager


Construction Manager on-site

If you’re passionate about building and construction and looking to break into the industry, you’re probably wondering about the differences between builders and construction managers and which career is the best choice for you. Or perhaps you’re already a builder and contemplating a career move into construction management. Both career options are rewarding and challenging, but despite what many people think, they are different pathways.

Differences between builders and construction managers


  • Take on responsibility for delivering specific construction and labour tasks. They may also be involved in the excavation and demolition of a site.
  • Manage their workload and often work within a small team.
  • Are usually self-employed and with varied work. They can work on a residential home one week and a city skyscraper the next.
  • Source all materials required for a job, always clean up the worksite and ensure the safety of themselves and their team.
  • Carry out the majority of their work onsite. On smaller jobs, they may work alone.
  • Often work with hazardous materials and operate machinery.

Construction managers:

  • Monitor and oversee numerous parts of the construction process, such as hiring staff and seeking permits.
  • Work with many stakeholders, such as owners, developers, contractors, architects, project managers and local council.
  • Require excellent communication skills and the ability to build rapport with people from a variety of backgrounds and industries.
  • Are responsible for solving problems and being a direct point of contact for other people in their team.
  • Manage other people’s workloads, including delegating tasks and supervising where necessary.
  • Ensure that work health and safety standards are always adhered to and compliance in other areas is satisfactory.
  • Maintain a high level of responsibility.
  • Work across projects, with a mixture of both office and site work.
  • Are usually employed by a company.

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Is a builder or construction manager career path right for you?

Both jobs have positive aspects, but a career as a construction manager is incredibly rewarding, less taxing on the body, and has higher salary potential.

Construction managers carry out minimal manual labour, meaning a decreased risk of short and long-term injuries. They have more responsibility and work with different people every day. Being employed as a construction manager rather than a sole tradesperson also means you’ll enjoy perks such as sick leave and annual leave, allowing you to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

Construction managers also work onsite and are involved in the building process, however, they are expected to be across other areas of the project too.

How to become a construction manager

How can you move into a career as a construction manager? If you’re already a builder, tradesperson or working in the industry in some capacity, you’re heading in the right direction. You’ll have plenty of transferable skills that will set you up for success as a construction manager.

If you’re working in other fields, the good news is that a variety of careers are excellent pathways into construction management. These jobs include finance, human resources, administration or customer service.

The quickest way into your new career is by completing a relevant diploma qualification. Networking with industry connections and working on soft skills, such as leadership and communication, are highly important action steps you can take now.

Learn to be a construction manager

A Diploma of Building and Construction (Management) (CPC50320) is a highly respected course that will equip you with the practical skills needed to succeed in the industry. You can study flexibly online, alongside your current job and receive one-on-one support from your learning coaches.

Construction management is a rewarding career

Construction is a challenging and rewarding area to work in, and as the industry continues to boom, the potential for jobs has never been greater. If you’re looking for a change in direction from building or other relevant sectors, then a career in construction management is worth considering.

Your Career in Construction Management

Do you want to learn more about construction management skills employers demand, emerging job roles and salaries, and recent industry insights? 

Discover your career in construction management.