Construction supervisor roles are rewarding, giving you the opportunity to work on projects to create buildings, roads, bridges, hospitals and other infrastructures that will change people’s lives for the better. Your knowledge and expertise in construction will help these projects to be planned and built efficiently, on time and on budget.
You will be involved with the planning and implementation as well as supervise the day-to-day running. You will also be a good communicator, able to manage staff and sub-contractors and take an active role in the management team.
The skills and experience you need.
Education is vital and whilst it is possible to work your way up in the building industry, a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject or a vocational qualification in construction is the most likely way in. You may well have several years of on-the-job training under your belt on top of any qualifications but if you haven’t got any experience then now is the time to get some, either through work experience or a lower-level job.
This cannot be underestimated as employers generally do prefer someone with real-life experience and a sound knowledge of the tools used in construction. If you can, try your hand at all the skills you will encounter – plumbing, carpentry, masonry, electrical – it will add to your appeal.
A construction supervisor will be expected to have a good knowledge of mathematics, geometry and an understanding of engineering as well, so make sure your basic skills are up to date and if necessary, take a refresher course. Solid English, a working knowledge of spreadsheet software and good organisational skills are also important – a construction supervisor normally has plenty of paperwork to fill out and records to keep.
Managing people is one skill that is vital to becoming a construction supervisor. You need to be able to lead and motivate a team to keep construction running smoothly. One day you will find yourself dealing with tradesmen and contractual issues, another day you will have to work with senior management on strategic planning. You may already have experienced this in your existing role or you may wish to look at taking a management course to improve such skills.
You also need to be prepared to deal with any eventuality and work under pressure. Things invariably go wrong on building sites and it is your job to ensure they are dealt with whilst not having an adverse effect on the overall project.
It is an exciting time to be a construction supervisor. You are at the forefront of our changing society, shaping lives as well as skylines. Your work will literally be standing for many years to come but it is important to make sure you have the right skills for the job. The key skills you need are:
- A degree or vocational qualification in construction, engineering or relevant subject. In the absence of a degree, excellent and extensive on-the-job experience and training.
- People management skills, either gained through experience and/or through management training.
- A good knowledge of mathematics, geometry and algebra. An understanding of engineering.
- A good knowledge of the different trade professions and preferably knowledge of how tools are used in masonry, carpentry, plumbing and electrical.