What is a Foreman?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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A foreman is an employee who is charged with the task of organizing and overseeing the work of a group of employees. Foremen report to managers and others within a company structure, rendering an account of the efficiency and general work habits of individuals assigned to them. Usually associated with industries associated with building or manufacturing, the exact responsibilities of the foreman will vary depending on the demands of the work environment.

One of the more common types of foreman jobs is that of the shop foreman. Commonly found in textile and other manufacturing plants, the shop foreman oversees the employees charged with the task of maintaining the facility, usually including the machinery used in the manufacturing process. Within this structure, the foreman is likely to report to a department supervisor and carry the same authority within the plant as any of the shift supervisors. This includes the ability to schedule employees under his or her charge, take disciplinary action when appropriate, and petition for additional employees or materials when needed.


A job foreman is likely to have responsibilities similar to those of a shop foreman, but may operate in other settings. It is not unusual for this type of supervisor to function in a building or construction setting. Here, the task often involves overseeing the execution and completion of various tasks that move the construction forward, arranging work schedules, seeing to the ordering and delivery of supplies, and reporting progress to his or her superiors. As in other settings, a manager of this type often has hiring and firing privileges, making it possible to build a cohesive working team.

The electric foreman is a supervisor who, along with his or her support team, will see to any tasks that involve the use of electrical current within a project. This can include the installation or maintenance of electrical wiring within a facility, trouble shooting on special projects such as temporary lighting for a special event, and making sure all electrical equipment within a facility is safe and operating within standards.

A general foreman is often in charge of more than one support team. Because of the broader nature of the job responsibilities, this type of manager often will have credentials and experience in more than one area of expertise. For example, a general foreman may be skilled with general construction as well as electrical wiring or plumbing systems.

While many employers place a great emphasis on experience as a necessary qualification to become a foreman, a growing number are also requiring formal education in related fields. The education may come in the form of successful completion of certified training programs related to the job tasks, general related studies at a vocational school, or even a degree from a college or university. Often, employers choose to promote from within, and may assist a promising candidate to receive formal training in anticipation of the employee one day reaching foreman status within the company.


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Post 1

What is an SJ foreman? I'm doing research on the Mann Gulch Fire in Montana and one of the main men was an Missoula SJ foreman. I need to know what that is. Thank you to whoever can answer this.

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