What is a Construction Foreman?

Victoria Blackburn

A construction foreman is the lead position on a specific project in the construction industry. The foreman is responsible for a number of different elements of both project management and employee relations for each job. The background education for a construction foreman is typically a diploma in construction or project management. A bachelor’s in engineering is beneficial but not required.

A construction foreman is a project manager.
A construction foreman is a project manager.

A foreman usually has several years of experience in construction positions with increasing levels of responsibility. He or she is usually required to supervise many workers with specialized trades. Many foremen may also have experience in a specialized trade area to aid them in managing the other construction team members.

A construction foreman may start out as a general laborer.
A construction foreman may start out as a general laborer.

Additionally, construction foremen can also pursue education in building services and project management in lieu of some of the hands-on experience. There is little consensus about which career path is more beneficial on the job as each brings it own strengths to the position. Pursuing an education in building services provides a formalized management system, while hands-on experience provides soft-skills and specific expertise on the job.

A construction foreman typically has a degree in construction or project management.
A construction foreman typically has a degree in construction or project management.

Due to the nature of the tightly regulated construction industry in many countries, a construction foreman may have many requirements beyond his or her specialized trade. Regulations are typically put in place for insurance purposes required by property developers. It is the responsibility of the construction foreman to ensure all workers are adhering to these guidelines.

Being a construction foreman requires that the person has a number of specific personal skills in order to be successful. A part of these responsibilities may include the actual hiring of workers to build a cohesive team, which can be a determining factor for success in the completion of a project. Clear and concise communication skills are important skills for construction foremen as they are responsible for delegation of work and oversight of the project. The foreman is a key person for providing moral support and employee motivation among the workers.

A key factor of the responsibilities of a construction foreman is ensuring all projects are completed on time. The foreman is generally responsible for scheduling and project management. Depending on the project, a construction foreman may have to sacrifice personal time to the project, including long hours that may extend into evenings and weekends. As the construction foreman is responsible for employee readiness and scheduling, and delays in completion can incur major costs for the developer/client and reflect poorly on the foreman.

A construction foreman may be responsible for reporting workplace injuries.
A construction foreman may be responsible for reporting workplace injuries.

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Discussion Comments


A construction foreman sometimes takes the blame from his employees when the person who contracted the job doesn’t pay on time. That happened to my uncle, who manages a team of five workers.

They had been working for months on a huge house. The workers knew that they wouldn’t see a paycheck until the house owner paid the foreman. They knew it would be a considerable amount when it did arrive, so they didn’t complain at first.

The problem arose as the project was nearing completion. They were about a week away from having the house finished, and they still had not received payment. They repeatedly asked my uncle, who could only tell them that the owner had not paid yet.

He ended up having to sue the man. Some of the workers refused to do any more jobs with my uncle until they got paid, so he was short-staffed and lost more money because of it. He won the lawsuit, but it took a year for him to get the money and pay the workers.


My neighbor is a construction foreman, and he jumps right into whatever project he is managing, joining the workers in building. He says he prefers to have a hands-on feel for what is going on, rather than just stating orders and watching.

For one thing, he is a very hard worker, and when he participates in a project, it gets done more quickly. Also, he says that he needs to know what his employees are up against to better advise them when problems arise. He wants to feel the materials, nail them together with his hands, and cut them with a saw.


Construction foremen usually possess a way with people as well as extensive knowledge. I knew one who took psychology courses in college as part of his degree program. He learned about the workings of the human mind so that he could better manage his employees someday.

I’m sure that his studies helped him better understand the workers, but his natural charisma probably helped even more in his position. His workers liked him, so they wanted to do their job well. He knew how to handle anger and frustration, and he knew the warning signs that often preceded problems, so he could address them before they erupted.


Being in a relationship with a construction foreman can be challenging. I dated one for many years, and his job often got in the way of our plans.

We could not make reservations at a restaurant, because more often than not, he would have to work later than he thought. We hardly ever got to go to movies because of his long hours.

About the only day we could make plans for was Sunday. That was the day that they all took off, so there wouldn’t be anyone at the job site to call him in for any sort of emergency.


@runner101 - Construction foremen are one of the people that are on the line for a project. In fact you may find on their resume something from the foreman attesting to finishing jobs on time or within budget.

I do not know if this is added stress for the foreman, or if you become so good at judging how long a project should take and how much money it will be that the stress lessens as you gain experience or maybe you already have that experience by the time you get to be a foreman.

My uncle puts in bids at his air conditioning company, which means he has to calculate labor and materials and turn in what his bid is for a job and hopes that he wins the bid. He has a great reputation for getting things done on time and within budget - but - he still is stressed and works a lot but that just seems to be his personality type.

Hope this helps.


I always thought of a construction foreman's job as quite stressful because you never hear of a job being finished early, you always hear about people complaining about construction being over budget and taking more time than originally thought.

Was I right in this assumption? Is it the foreman that takes a lot of the heat if a building takes too long to construct?

I am sure that many construction jobs are finished on time or early, but it is like many other areas that get critiqued - you only hear the bad and rarely hear the good.

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