Site managers, sometimes known as construction managers or site foreman, are responsible for running construction projects and supervising sites, ensuring the project runs smoothly, safely and is completed on time and in budget.

Site managers are also responsible for taking on staff and preparing the site, including installing temporary offices and facilities before construction starts.

Site management is a skilled, well-paid profession within the construction industry – keep reading to discover the necessary qualifications and experience required for the job.

What qualifications do you need to become a site manager?

There are several ways to become a site manager – you could either work your way up the ranks, such as starting as a trainee or assistant site manager to gain experience, or you could study for a degree to become qualified and start straight away as a site manager.

University

Many site managers begin their careers by gaining either a relevant HNC/HND or undergraduate degree.

The formal degree qualification for this is BSc (Hons) Construction Management, which can be studied full-time or part-time. It equips you with all the skills necessary for site management, and on completion, also entitles you to membership of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), as long as the provider is accredited.  

Degrees or a HNC/HND in construction project management, civil engineering, construction engineering, estimating and building studies are also good alternative options which are valued by employers.

To gain entry onto these courses you will usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a HNC/HND
  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree.

Find out more about studying at university here.

Work experience

It is possible to start in an alternative construction role and build your way up to a site manager through gaining experience. If you’re working as an estimator, building technician, surveyor or site supervisor and have several years’ experience, you could progress to a site manager.

However, many companies may also require you to complete a degree or a HNC/HND, which can be studied part-time alongside your work.

There are more qualifications needed, though, to become a fully-fledged site manager, such as a Black Construction Skills Certificate Scheme (CSCS) card.

How do you get a Black CSCS Card?

The Black CSCS Card (also known as the Black Manager’s Card) is the manager-level CSCS card, which demonstrates the holder is experienced and can maintain a management position on a construction site, whilst working safely.

Although the card isn’t a legal requirement, most companies will require their site managers to hold one. In order to obtain the card, you will need to have completed:

Find out more about the different CSCS cards here.

How long does a Black CSCS card last?

Black CSCS Cards are valid for five years, after which they will need to be renewed. You are able to renew the card 6 months prior to its expiry date, as well as 6 months after – although it is recommended to renew as early as possible to ensure you do not lose your accreditation. You can read more about renewals here.        

What Site Manager NVQs do you need?

To become a fully qualified site manager, you will need a Level 6 NVQ in site management. It is one of the highest qualification levels available and equivalent to a bachelors degree. Usually taking six months to complete, the course is an in-depth assessment of your competency at construction site management.

The course includes six modules and two onsite assessment visits, and involves classroom tuition and workshops. To enrol on a site management Level 6 NVQ, you will already need to be working as a site manager in construction.

You can find out more about the NVQ here.

What HS&E Test do you need?

As we previously mentioned, all site managers must pass the CITB Managers and Professionals (MAP) Health, Safety and Environment Test. It’s a written exam to assess your understanding of manager’s health and safety responsibilities in the workspace. It is broken down into 5 key subject areas:

  • Legal and management
  • Health and welfare
  • General safety
  • High risk safety
  • Environmental considerations.

It is recommended to complete the SMSTS course prior to taking the HS&E test to ensure you have a good understanding of the relevant health and safety law and legislation.

You can find some key materials to help you prepare for the HS&E test here.

What is SMSTS?

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is another essential component of becoming a fully qualified site manager. The course usually takes five days to complete and is valid for five years from completion.

The course covers all relevant legislation affecting safe working in the construction industry. By completing the course you will be able to:

  • Implement all health, safety, welfare and environmental legislation affecting your daily work
  • Implement new guidance and industry best practice
  • State your duties and responsibilities regarding health, safety, welfare and the environment.

You can find out more about SMSTS here.

What is the difference between a site manager and site supervisor?

While there is a lot of cross-over between a site manager and site supervisor, there are some key differences which require managers to have more experience and qualifications.

Site supervisors tend to report directly to site managers, and are more focused on the day-to-day supervision of workers on site. Whereas managers deal with the bigger picture of a project, overseeing the overall management of site operations – ensuring tasks are completed on time, within budget and to the standards required.

Managers are also heavily involved in the planning stages of projects, compiling designs and site reports before and during the construction process.

Find out more about becoming a site manager

For more information, check out Go Construct’s comprehensive site manager job description here.

Want to know what it’s like to work in site management? Read Jess Rooney’s story.