How do I Become a Shop Foreman?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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There are two steps necessary to become a shop foreman: training in a skilled trade and supervisory experience. The primary responsibility of a shop foreman is to coordinate jobs and work requests, manage on-site inventory and resolve problems. The title "shop foreman" is historical, and these positions are increasingly held by women. Someone who wants to become a shop foreman can find employment in the manufacturing or skilled trade services sectors.

The first step in the process to become a shop foreman is to complete a training or apprenticeship program in a skilled trade. This type of program averages six or seven years of training to complete and is available from community colleges or technical colleges. In addition to formal training, work experience is necessary to become a certified skilled tradesperson. This experience usually is obtained through progressive positions that are organized by the apprenticeship program.

The shop foreman must be able to provide advice and guidance to the employees that he or she supervises. The level of expertise necessary to perform this job takes many years to obtain. In general, employers require candidates to have at least five years as a shop mechanic or tradesperson. Additional experience as a lead hand or supervisor is a great way to prepare to become a shop foreman.


Supervisory experience is often the hardest type of experience to obtain. Employers often want candidates to have managerial experience but have a difficult time providing opportunities to gain this experience in the workplace. In order to overcome this hurdle, many people volunteer for supervisory or managerial roles. Short-term projects can be a great way to gain experience in a leadership role.

The most common way to become a shop foreman is through promotion. Most companies prefer to promote from within whenever possible. This policy encourages staff members to perform at higher levels and think about long-term career goals, and it reduces transitional costs for the employers. An additional benefit of this policy is continuity in the workplace that can be maintained by promoting someone who is familiar with the business processes already in place.

Career advancement opportunities for a shop foreman include the role of shop manager, district supervisor or facilities director. These positions represent a significant departure from the duties of shop foreman. The next level of management is primarily administrative, with very little involvement in daily operations or solving problems. The level of compensation for a shop foreman is above-average for a supervisory position, because of the additional training and experience necessary in a skilled trade.

People who want to become a shop foreman typically are highly skilled in their specific trade or field. They also generally are naturally outgoing and enjoy helping apprentices learn about the trade. The number of women in the skilled trades is expected to increase as more people become aware of the excellent career prospects and high demand for these positions.


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