Construction Engineering and Manegment/MBA


Graduated from UMICH w a BS two years ago.  Been working in Chicago at a small Architecture firm since for ~37K a year.  I think its about time to go back to school however I think the return on ivenstment of an M.ARCH is terrible and not an investment I'm willing to make (I dont want to be a liscened architect I want to build and be on the construction site).  So I've been looking at dual MBA/masters in construction engineering and manegment programs.  I was wondering if anyone had made this jump from an architecture background and maybe even more specificly done this program at U of M.  If so I was wondering.

1) How did you like the transition

2) how hard was the transition, going from working at an architecgture firm to a construction firm

3) did you feel the program prepared you for your job

4) did you get a job right out of school

5) whats an average starting salary

6) whats job secureity like


Jan 2, 13 8:30 pm

I've commented on these questions about construction management before as I made the transition. My difference is I did an M.Arch and didn't do a an MBA. I'll try to answer your questions line for line.

1) Hard to say, I was going through a rough period in my life. The transition came after my father died and the whole giving up on architecture really brought me down. Regardless I'm  happy to be where I am now.

2) I'm not at a construction firm, but do construction and project management for the federal government up here in Canada. The transition involved learning a lot about government processes. Very little that I did in an architecture firm has really translated into the office here. I was a render and cad monkey before, now I don't even work on drawings, but occasionally review them. I find the office environment with construction to be far more positive, we do a lot of team building exercises and the office isn't full of pretentious snobs, but regular people.

3) Architecture school did an awful job. I'm embarrassed to be on job sites and realise I know very little about how a building goes together after my years of schooling. I took a few courses in Construction Management at BCIT in Vancouver and found the two courses ( while minor ) were far more relevant.

4) Can't really answer that one. But I know in these parts the opportunities are better.

5) I'm above 50K in my first year. Most in the office talk about how we could make a lot more money in the private world, but we'd lose our government perks. The government structure in my job requires that you apply for promotions. The next level above me would put me above 60K and I should be ready for it, whenever a position becomes available. 

6) Rock solid. I'm just over 11 months into my year probation though. I've been told I have to murder someone to get fired. However this is government. The private sphere is a little different.

I hope my comments offer some insight. The government world is quite different. You can get similar positions with universities and corporations. Anyone that has a large quantity of ageing buildings that need renovations or upgrades. Up here the government encourages further training to move your career forward and offers opportunities if you want to take them. Feel free to ask more detailed questions. I was in your position about 18 months ago.

Jan 3, 13 1:19 am

.I agree with you DaveZ on the return on MArch degree. Currently I work in a small Architecture firm and have been in charge of a few project. I complete my 1yr this February and I was lucky to find a great mentor. My mentor told me when I was considering geting a Construction Management degree, " It's easier to teach a student of Architecture to be a construction manager than the other way around." Don't sell our degree in Architecture short. If you use it properly you can get great opportunities.

Look at the curriculum of Construction Management degree. "Building construction, Project Management, estimating, etc...... This is all stuff you can learn on your own or already learn from either school or already learned at work.

My suggestions would find a Architecture that spends a lot of time on the construction side or work for a construction firm and learn from there. I just recieve my certificate in OSHA 10 and now enrolled in OSHA 30 and studying for my LEED AP test. Get those thing and your resume will look alot more appealing to Architects,COntractors, even Real Estate firms. later get PMI,CPM, or whatever to push you over the $100,000 a year point.

Jan 3, 13 5:04 pm

You can always try out RICS School of Built Environment:

The school is based out of India and offer a varied set of courses that you can find here:

I hope this helps you. 

Thanks and Regards,


Jul 23, 14 6:29 am

“It’s easier to teach a student of Architecture to be a construction manager than the other way around.” This applies to employment too. I once taught a night class entitled “How to Read Blueprints”…full of aspiring trade guys trying to learn to read prints and move-up to superintendent….I couldn’t believe the retardation. I don’t know if it’s just in our DNA or what but just having this skill is enough to start. If you can read a print, you can do a take-off and that’s the runway to becoming a PM. PM’s “Carry the Mantel” on projects and from there you can go anywhere on the GC/CM side. People coming from architecture are infinitely more qualified to tear thru drawings looking things up, referencing back-and-forth. Missing something on a drawing or spec rings the Death Nell at these places.

As a side story about the value of being able to read prints.….I slid over offering my drawing skills, while doing that (you guys are going to love this) whenever they chased/bid a job they would put me on a set of drawings and my job was to find errors, voids, missing information, conflicts between the drawings and specs. I’d tear through the code to see if fire doors were missing, I’d even count fire extinguishers to see if they were short. This was not meant to cause trouble but everyone was using the same subs so getting the job often came down to the decision at the end on what overhead and profit to put on it. If the drawings were tight that played into the decision, if loose it opened up the door.

Not a student so can’t help much there but all of these newer CM program tracks are great….they open the door wider for people like you and the industry likes it. Don’t know if you need to work, if you don’t school will give you a leg-up in the transition but at $37K heading straight in is possible.

Lots of chat herein on this kind of subject look around and soak-it-up.

Jul 23, 14 2:17 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: