Builder vs. Construction Manager: What is the difference?


The construction industry is one of the biggest employers in Australia.

The number of construction workers—chippies, sparkies, builders and more—is expected to grow by 6.8% between 2020 and 2025.

But it’s not just a great industry for jobs. It’s a great industry for careers.

If you’re after thinking about pursuing a life-long rewarding career with a good salary, then construction has plenty of opportunities for you.

While there are so many types of jobs and careers in construction, this blog will focus on two of the most popular jobs: Builder vs. Construction Manager.

Here, we’ll show you the tasks and duties of each of these jobs.

We’ll also show you the perks and help you decide if one of these outstanding careers is right for you.

What do builders do?

A builder is usually a qualified tradie such as a carpenter (or chippy) who got a Victorian builders registration (this is sometimes called a builders licence in other states).  

With this registration, you can have your own business and do bigger jobs than you would be allowed to do with just a Certificate 3.

Aside from running your own business, a builders registration also lets you do other high paid jobs.

With a builders registration, you could work as a site supervisor, looking after a team of tradies.

People with builders registrations often work “off the tools” meaning that they don’t do the hands-on stuff that carpenters do.

Instead of physical tasks, builders do things like:

  • manage a building and construction project from start to finish
  • deal with customers
  • look after a team of workers
  • ensure compliance with health and safety regulations

What do construction managers do?

Construction managers oversee the building of residential, commercial, and industrial construction projects.

Like a builder, a construction manager also has to have a builders registration.

Construction managers run construction and building projects from beginning to end, often managing a few site supervisors.

A construction manager also does duties like:

  • recruits and supervises workers
  • looks after building and work schedules
  • does project budgets
  • keeps clients up to date on progress
  • controls project risks at construction sites

How to become a builder or construction manager

Both the builder and construction manager roles require a builders registration.

To get this registration, you need to make an application to the Victorian Building Authority.

This application is not easy! It has to be tough to make sure Victoria has excellent builders to create safe buildings.

But because it is so hard, many people fail the application.

One way to improve your chances of passing this application is by doing a CPC40120 Certificate IV in Building and Construction.

The Cert IV teaches you all the skills and knowledge you need to pass the application, which includes how to manage a team and how to run a business.

If you do your Cert IV with Builders Academy Australia, you also get free building registration mentorship—helping maximise your chances of success.

Once you succeed in getting your builders registration, you’re ready to work as a builder in your own business or as a project manager or site supervisor.

But if you want the construction manager role which comes with an even higher salary, you usually need to study a construction management course.

One of the best construction management courses is the CPC50220 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building).

A lot of people prefer the diploma to the bachelor’s degree because the diploma only takes a year to complete full-time. 

The Diploma of Building and Construction also lets you continue working full time as you can complete your studies over just two nights per week.

Get into the building and construction industry

If you’re tossing up between the builder and construction manager careers, there are a few things to weigh up. 

To become a builder, you need to do your Certificate IV in Building and Construction where you will gain communication and management skills and learn how to run your own construction firm. Once you’ve completed your Cert IV, you need to pass your builders registration. You’ll be able to work as a site supervisor or own your own business. 

But if you become a construction manager, you could earn a higher salary. 

To become a construction manager, you need a construction management course like the Diploma of Building and Construction, where you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the building site’s operations so you can take overall responsibility for its construction process. 

Looking to take the next step in your career with a CPC50220 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building)? Find out if you’re eligible for government funding by contacting us on 1300 LEGEND (1300 534 363) or request a callback today.

This article has been updated and republished on 10th April 2023.