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Should Your Project Managers Have a Masters Degree in Construction Management?

In order to believe that a master’s degree is valuable, you have to accept the idea that continuing education is vital to your organization and the greater good of the construction world.

Look at the growing use of technology and data within construction. From building information management (BIM), to advances in surveying and project management software, many can agree that the need for continued education is desirable and/or necessary. The expectation of employee competency is increasing, and will continue to increase in the near and long-term future, as evident in almost every industry. Undergraduate education in construction management has done a reasonably fair job at teaching the technical and managerial aspects of project management, while a master’s degree in construction management is teaching a broader based understanding of productivity assessment, managing a portfolio of projects and keeping up with cutting edge technology.

Many owners of construction companies will concede that they learn through the school of hard knocks when they created and developed their company. This experience gained from success and failure obviously had a cost just like a formal education. Some would argue that it would be better if those loses could be mitigated by formal education.

Take Kemper Booher who is an executive for a major construction company. Mr. Booher after completing his master’s degree turned a division of the company from a large annual loss to large annual profit gain, in an 18 month period. He accredits his education in teaching him how to put a business together, in a way to make it financially successful (La Ferla, 2005).
In a study of graduate degree predictive analytics, it is quoted that the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics is predicting “that there will be a 24 percent increase in demand for professionals with management analysis skills over the next eight years” (PR, 2011). The author goes on to explain that this trend is being “fueled by an increased use of business analytics by companies to better understand the explosion of data” (PR, 2011) that can add business value through assessment.

In addition, an insightful 1993 research study done on employment trends showed that “employment of postgraduates has grown considerably” (Connor and Jagger 1993).  In total, the annual output of postgraduates degrees increased by 40 percent during the 1980s, with much of this growth starting in 1984. Looking to the future, it is expected that postgraduate supply will increase” (Connor and Jagger, 1993). This study done 21 years ago shows that people with graduate degrees are becoming more common in every industry, including construction. The question to ask yourself as an employer is whether you want one on your staff, or one on the staff of your competitors.

Published on February 13, 2015

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