A public works director is responsible for managing the many different projects and facilities funded by the town or city by which he is employed, and which in most cases are intended for use by the citizens of that town or city. These projects and facilities are broad in scope, and may include parks, road construction, and water quality maintenance. Often, a public works manager acts in cooperation with a mayor or city council. He often has an educational background in engineering, business, or public administration.
The specific duties of a public works director can vary from town to town, but they are generally quite broad in scope. Essentially, the director is in charge of managing the many aspects of planning, constructing, and maintaining all town-funded projects and facilities intended for public use. This may include such projects as building or repairing roads, planning and caring for parks, and maintaining the quality of a town’s sewage system and water supply. A public works manager in a small town may be extensively involved in every public project which that town carries out. Conversely, a public works director in a large city may oversee a team of managers who in turn attend to the details of individual projects.
Often, a large part of the public works director’s job is fairly technical, and involves reading blueprints, reviewing contract bids, preparing budget reports, ordering materials needed to build and maintain public projects, and ensuring that projects comply with all relevant local, state, and national laws. He may also be responsible for managing employees of the city and, in some cases, of the various contractors hired to complete public construction jobs. Additionally, he may be required to plan projects and budgets in cooperation with a mayor or town council, and discuss problems and explain upcoming projects to town citizens. As he must interact with so many different individuals, he generally must possess strong communication skills.
Exact educational qualifications needed to become a public works director can vary. Some directors have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and gradually ascend to the director position from lower-level public works positions. More often, however, public works directors have an educational background which prepares them to navigate the varied facets of the job, including both the technical and the managerial. Commonly, directors have an undergraduate or master’s degree in civil engineering, business, or public administration.