How Do I Become a General Foreman?

Geri Terzo

A general foreman may also be referred to as a superintendent on a construction project, and this individual is responsible for overseeing jobs from start to finish. Several years' experience in the construction field is the best preparation to become a general foreman, but some education will also be required. An apprenticeship under the leadership of an experienced foreman will introduce you to some of the responsibilities of this role upon taking all the steps to get there.

A general foreman typically has years of experience as a laborer.
A general foreman typically has years of experience as a laborer.

At the very least, a high school education or equivalent degree must be earned in order to become a general foreman. An associate's degree or vocational school experience may be expected, and the degree should be in construction or a related field. Also, management experience on construction projects is likely to be required of someone who wants to become a general foreman. College experience may count toward years of experience as a laborer in the construction field, which can speed up the process to gain the foreman title.

A general foreman works with electricians.
A general foreman works with electricians.

Work experience as a project supervisor on a construction site for a couple of years will demonstrate an ability to lead on the job. Leadership skills are important and so is a knowledge of construction. Given that you are likely to be coordinating the work of different kinds of laborers, you should possess some expertise in the kinds of equipment, tools, and machines that are common in construction.

Characteristics that should be inherent in a general foreman include an ability to communicate with construction workers, including electricians, plumbers, builders, and painters. This individual should possess a motivation to work independently all the while overseeing the work of other laborers and jobs. Versatility is necessary because a foreman may begin the day behind a desk ordering materials and coordinating drops or pickups and spend the remainder of the day on a job site interacting with laborers. An ability to multitask on jobs will increase the value of someone who wants to become a general foreman.

On the way to become a general foreman, keep your eyes open to different kinds of opportunities. For instance, large facilities that host major events, such as trade shows for various industries, are constantly building and changing exhibits for event participants. A general foreman may be hired by the facility to oversee all of the construction workers involved in preparing for these events. Responsibilities may range from hiring the laborers, union or otherwise, to build and dismantle displays all within budget. The general foreman may be expected to coordinate the schedules of electricians and other construction workers in addition to ensuring that the appropriate materials and equipment are on hand.

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