You can land a job as a supervisor on a construction site by working your way up from the ranks of hands-on trade workers, or you can go to school for the career. A bachelor’s degree in construction management, engineering or architecture can lead to supervisory position. You’ll learn the specifics of design, cost estimating, construction science and materials, as well as building codes and contract administration.
Increasingly, employers look for certifications from the Construction Management Association or the American Institute of Constructors, in addition to degrees. When you earn a certification, you’ll be prepared for most situations you’ll encounter on the job. A certification from the Construction Management Association, for example, gives you a background in core competencies such as time management, cost estimation, quality control and safety strategies. The course work complements your formal schooling and shows employers you’ve done the work to prepare you for the job.
You’ll be involved in the construction project from the beginning and will serve as the liaison between the company and your clients. Once the site plans are finalized, you’ll hire subcontractors to fulfill the various tasks associated with the project. Again, you’ll be the go-to-gal for those subs and your boss. You’ll be expected to solve conflicts as they arise and make sure everyone gets paid on time. When the client requests changes to the work, you’ll estimate costs and institute the orders. Additionally, you’ll be the one who coordinates work with the architect, contractors, building inspectors and engineers.
You can expect to spend a lot of your time at the actual site, overseeing your projects. You need to make sure subcontractors and direct employees show up on time and keep work on schedule. You’ll be the one who opens the site each day and closes it down in the evening; you make the call if a site needs to stop work because of inclement weather. You make sure everyone has enough supplies and send out runners to get supplies when needed.
In addition to meeting inspectors and other stakeholders on the site, you’ll need to be available to make decisions when questions arise about how a certain aspect of the project should progress. Once the work begins, the site supervisor is the boss, and it’s up to you to make sure the project is done on time and within the budget. You set up meetings when necessary between the owner and the client and schedule the final walk-through of the project when it’s done.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."