Builder vs. Construction Manager: What is the difference?

Builder vs. Construction Manager: What is the difference?

Thinking about a career in construction? You’d be making a great choice. The industry is booming, and job prospects are looking good into the future. But with so many diverse roles available, it can be hard to work out which is right for you.

In this blog, we’ll look at the differences between a builder and construction manager. We’ll give you a run-down on what each does. We’ll also let you know what it takes to get there. By the end of this read, you should be one step closer to choosing your ideal career path.

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What does a builder do?

Builders build homes, as well as commercial and industrial buildings. They also do renovations, excavations and demolitions. More specifically, builders do particular tasks in construction, including manual labour and operating machinery. A builder’s job varies from month to month. You could be working on a small residential unit one day and a multi-level office building the next.

Many builders are self-employed. Instead of receiving a wage for their labour, they invoice for their work and operate under an ABN. Being self-employed means that builders must source their own materials. They are also responsible for clean-up onsite and for the safety of their team.

The pros and cons

Builders have a very physical job. They are mostly onsite and can spend all of their time outdoors. If you can’t stand the thought of sitting at an office all day, then you’d enjoy the active part of being a builder. However, this does put builders at a high risk of injury. Injuries range from minor muscle strains to more serious damages.

Because builders are self-employed, they take on a certain level of risk in business. They could make a profit or loss, depending on how they go with each project. That said, being self-employed also comes with its perks. Builders choose who they work with, what they work on, and when.

In terms of career trajectory, there are advantages and disadvantages to becoming a builder. A builder salary averages at around $1,400 per week for 40 hours. But if your business does well, you could be earning double that! While that’s not as high as say, a construction manager salary, you’d always have the option of moving up the ranks when you feel ready. Builders are eventually able to move into a more senior builder’s role, or into construction management.

What skills and qualifications do you need?

The main requirement you’ll need to meet is having a builders licence, (or a ‘builders registration’ as it’s known in Victoria.) Having a qualification to complement your licence will give you a competitive edge. Builders have a better chance of getting work when they have experience and training in construction. To set yourself up for a career as a builder, get something like a Diploma of Building and Construction.

If you’re already in a trade such as carpentry or bricklaying, you’d have many transferable skills. You could gradually work your way up to becoming a builder, or you could speed things up with a Diploma of Building and Construction. A course like this would help round out your existing skill set, preparing you for a builder’s career.

Read more on how to get your building licence in Victoria.

Want to find out how much you can earn as a qualified BAA graduate? Take our quiz.

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What does a construction manager do?

A construction manager, also known as a building project manager, oversees and supervises some parts of the construction process. They do some of the same physical work that builders do. But more often, they delegate tasks and supervise builders and labourers. Construction managers are responsible for the safety of everyone on site and for ensuring OH&S standards are met. Many will study a Construction Management course to ensure they have the right skills.

Construction management also involves office work. This includes administrative duties like hiring workers and getting permits. Construction managers work with many people behind the scenes like developers, architects and project managers. They may also liaise with other stakeholders, including owners and local council.

The pros and cons

Construction management has many plus-sides. It is less taxing on the body compared to being a builder. You’re also less likely to get injured on the job, because you’re spending more time in an office. On the other hand, is also comes with more responsibility, and therefore, more stress.

Construction managers are typically employees of a company. They receive a set wage for their work, regardless of the profitability of the project. A construction manager salary is higher than a builder’s earnings, at around $1,700 per week for 40 hours. Construction managers also get extras such as superannuation, sickness benefits and annual leave.

If you can handle the added responsibility, then construction management could be for you. Because it is a more advanced role than a builder, the profession has more staying power in a changing construction industry.

How many years does it take to become a construction manager?

To become a construction manager, you’d already need to be a builder or tradesperson. Earning your apprenticeship and builders licence would take anywhere from two to four years. You’d then have transferable skills to enter a construction manager role.

Want to find out how much you can earn as a qualified BAA graduate? Take our quiz.

Construction Management Courses

Fast-track your progression from builder to construction manager with a Construction Management course. BAA offers a Diploma of Building and Construction. Compared to a three-year bachelor’s, a Diploma of Building and Construction would only take a year to complete. It would also allow you to continue working, while you study just two nights per week.

Read more about how to become a construction manager in Australia.

Want to become a builder or a construction manager? Both options come with their pros and cons. Builders work outdoors and earn less, but they have less stress and more freedom. Construction management comes with more responsibility. But it also has higher wages and better conditions. Looking to take the next step in your career with a Diploma of Building and Construction (Building)? Contact our team at 1300 LEGEND (1300 534 363) or request a callback and we will get back to you with all the information you need!