If you’re on the fence right now, wondering whether a career as a glazing project manager is the right move for you, this article should help you decide. I’ll give you 9 reasons why I think glazing is a great industry to be in, and why project management is such an interesting and important role.
1. The glazing industry is pretty darn cool
First of all, in my humble opinion, the glazing industry is pretty cool. Now, I’ve been in this business for 19 years, so obviously I’m a little biased. But I really do believe this industry is a lot more interesting than most people realize.
A lot of young people these days seem to be interested in trendy industries like artificial intelligence, robotics, and blockchain. In comparison, there’s not as much interest in older industries like manufacturing and construction. Maybe these industries are viewed as on the decline? Or not as exciting? But in my opinion, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In terms of glazing, while it’s an old industry, it’s definitely not dying. Actually, it’s evolving in some really interesting ways. Way back in the day, it wasn’t really possible to use glass as a construction material. It was only possible to use it for very small windows. If you wanted a large glass opening, the only way to do it was to fashion several small panes together. Nevertheless, architects were able to bring some pretty fantastic designs to life.
One of the first uses of glass as the main construction material was The Crystal Palace, built in 1851 by Joseph Paxton to house the Great Exhibition.
Nowadays, thanks to improved glass production processes and the introduction of better framing materials, it’s possible to use bigger, stronger sheets of glass. In fact, it’s common to see buildings fully enclosed by large glass sheets. And this trend isn’t going anywhere, because, first of all, glass looks great, but also, it provides lots of beneficial attributes that help with heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting.
It’s a pretty cool feeling to walk by this building and know you played a role in getting it done! That’s one of the great things about being a glazing project manager. Your work is on display for everyone who walks by to appreciate.
Today, the opportunities for project managers in the glazing industry are better than ever. If you’re not yet convinced, hopefully the reasons below will help you decide whether this is the right career choice for you.
2. There’s a lot of room for growth and advancement
It’s no secret to those who work in the industry: glazers are an aging group.
There just aren’t enough young people coming to work in the industry. I’m not sure why, but maybe we haven’t done a good enough job recruiting and promoting the industry. While this may seem like a reason to stay away from the industry, I would argue it’s actually a great reason to get involved.
The fact that young people aren’t rushing to join the industry means there are tons of opportunities to get involved and eventually to take on leadership positions as you gain experience.
3. Glazing project managers are paid very well
Working in the glazing industry can be very financially rewarding. Salaries vary depending on the size of the company and where you work, but overall, project managers in this industry are paid very well. In fact, according to PayScale, the average salary for a project manager in the glazing industry in the US is $66k.
Salaries are highest at large companies working in big cities that install glass for very large buildings.
4. A huge variety of opportunities and specializations
There’s a wide variety of opportunities available to project managers in the glazing field. For example, you can choose to specialize in residential glass installations, high-rise commercial megaprojects, and pretty much everything in between.
Some specializations give you more flexibility than others. For example, specializing in residential installations means you can work pretty much anywhere. While other specializations, like commercial high-rises, might expose you to higher-paying jobs, but will for the most part only be available in big cities.
5. New challenges all the time
As I mentioned at the start of the article, the glazing industry is constantly evolving. Architects continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, and are coming up with innovative ways to use glass in building designs.
The Penguin Exhibit at the Detroit Zoo is truly unique. It took months of planning and 3D design prior to fabrication and assembly of the glazing systems to get it just right.
An experienced project manager will be expected to be able to pull off complex projects like the one above. As you can imagine, working on such an innovative and challenging project is very rewarding. There’s a great deal of satisfaction involved with seeing a really tough job through from start to finish.
6. A chance to learn a wide variety of skills
Glazing project managers are like swiss army knives: they’re regularly called on to tackle numerous different tasks from start to project completion.
For example, project managers have to get all products needed for the construction to be approved, order all the materials, coordinate with fabricators and suppliers to get the products to the job site on time, then coordinate with installers to get everything set up the right way. But the fun doesn’t stop there!
Once everything is installed, the project manager submits all the close-out requirements such as warranties and final drawings. At the same time, the project manager has to stay in constant contact and coordinate with the general contractor and other tradespeople.
This kind of work exposes you to a lot of different tasks, which is great for people who enjoy variety.
7. You will play a key leadership role
A project manager needs to be dependable, with a strong ability to work independently. But they also need to be an effective leader and team player. This is a skill that develops over time as project managers gain experience.
Glazing project managers interact with many different people with unique specializations, including architects, general contractors, project managers from other trades, installers, and their own team members, which include glass fabricators and installers. Basically, they’re the “hub” of every glazing project.
A seasoned project manager will have developed very strong leadership skills that will serve them well in all facets of life.
8. You can develop a rare ability to see and understand how building systems really work
The glass business can be an unforgiving one. Mistakes can be costly, resulting in damage to property and even injury. That’s why glazing project managers have to have an especially strong ability to simultaneously see the big picture and pay attention to fine details.
Training to become a glazing project manager will expose you to a wide variety of new information. You’ll develop a strong understanding of building systems, including how the various components interact. This knowledge and experience will make you an indispensable asset for any project.
Glazing systems are complex and interact with other building features around them, including metal panels, brick, stone, concrete, etc. Project managers have to pay attention to not only how the glazing system is built and how it functions, but also how it interacts with everything else. They have to think about the secondary impacts of every design decision. This is essential to prevent problems like water leaks, or even something far worse like system failure.
9. Continuous self-improvement
Every glazing project is a new challenge and a chance for self-improvement. Project managers who have a strong desire to get better and who approach every project as a learning opportunity will be very successful in this industry. Hard working and dedicated project managers will always be in demand and always have lots of interesting opportunities for work.
In the glazing world, there are always new products, new uses for existing products, new design principles, new installation approaches, new equipment to help with installation, new ways to interface with surrounding products, and new job environments to learn about. Staying on the leading-edge is challenging, no doubt, but also incredibly rewarding.
So, is glazing project management the right choice for you?
If you’re looking for a career opportunity that is rewarding and challenging, the glazing industry is an excellent choice. Your project management skills will take you a long way in this industry, where success depends on skilled professionals with a deep understanding of building systems and an ability to manage complex projects.
Plus, you can be confident that you’ll be joining a growing industry. The push for glass exteriors has never been stronger thanks to the advantages it brings in terms of energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and overall aesthetics. Joining the glazing industry as a project manager will put you in the center of the action, and give you an opportunity to develop into an indispensable leader.