Sponsor spotlight: Construction management program at Edmonds College is helping meet a red-hot job market

Edmonds College offers two associate degrees and three certificate programs in Construction Management. (Photo by Arutyun Sargsyan/Edmonds College)

It seems everywhere you turn in Snohomish County, buildings and other infrastructures are sprouting up at a remarkable rate. Behind each of those projects is a workforce helping shape our thriving community’s economy. With so many projects underway and many current businesses looking to expand, the demand for trained professionals in construction management has never been higher.

The market is so hot in the region because the job-posting demand is well above the national average. According to Emsi data derived from official government sources such as the US Census Bureau of Economic Analysis and Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were an average of 322 job postings per month from January to April 2022. That number is well above the national average of 196 in a similar-sized area.

Edmonds College is doing its best to help employers keep up with the need to find qualified workers in the industry. The college offers an Associate of Technical Arts (ATA) and Associate in Applied Science Transfer (AAS-T) in Construction Management, plus three certificate programs: code inspection, business construction, and civil construction management and inspection.

“Edmonds College’s construction management program has been one of the best in the region for several decades,” EC President Dr. Amit B. Singh said. “We consistently help meet the industry’s needs by training professionals in the field, and right now, those workers are in high demand.”

With such a heightened demand for jobs related to construction management, Edmonds College’s graduates are hot commodities. Patrick Kolanda, a full-time instructor and the department head at Edmonds College, says it is impossible to keep up with the hiring frenzy.

“Right now, we have way more jobs than grads,” said Kolanda, who graduated from the program over two decades ago. “We literally can’t fill all the job requests for our graduates we are getting.”

Construction sites have an incredibly high demand for project engineers, superintendents, and project managers, while municipal jobs need more project managers and code inspectors. With more competition to fill jobs come higher salaries.

“The market is hot right now for highly trained professionals,” said Vernon Hawkins, Dean of Business and Continuing Education at Edmonds College. “Edmonds College is a great training ground and prepares students for high-paying careers in the profession once they earn their degree or certification.”

Kolanda says that the minimum starting salary for graduates is $60,000 and can reach up to $75,000 if they have previous journeyman experience. Salaries can escalate into six figures for grads with a few years of management-level experience. According to Emsi, the national yearly median wage for construction managers is $78,305. In King and Snohomish County, the average median salary is $105,495.

Since the program at Edmonds College is an applied science program, students are getting on-the-job training. What they learn in class is what they will do on the job.

“All of our classes are designed to apply to the workforce,” Kolanda said. “One of the most common inputs from graduates is that ‘I’m using what you’re teaching daily, and it’s helping my career.’ ”

While students can enter the workforce right out of the program, graduates can also continue their education. Transfers can earn a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Information Technology and Administrative Management at CWU or a BAS in Sustainable Building Science Technology at South Seattle. The program has official transfer articulation agreements with both colleges.

Students looking for a quicker path to improving their resume, enhancing their work experience, or building on their bachelor’s degree can earn certificates. The Building Construction program offers certificates earned in one year in code inspection, construction management, and civil construction. Many students working towards their ATA or AAS-T also acquire certificates because of an overlap in prerequisites and classes.

“Getting a certificate in our programs can put – for example – a construction management spin on your degree,” Kolanda said. “I have one student with a four-year degree in interior design, but the minute she got that one-year certificate in construction management, she was gold.”

The Construction Management program at Edmonds College is designed for people from all walks of life. The average age of students is 35 but ranges from 18- to 60-year-olds. One-third of the students do not have construction backgrounds, and two-thirds work full time. Classes are primarily at night and combine online and in-person instruction.

To learn more about starting your career in construction management at Edmonds College, visit https://www.edmonds.edu/const

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