How to Become a Construction Superintendent: Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a construction superintendent. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career as a construction superintendent.

Do I Want to Be a Construction Superintendent?

Construction superintendents, or construction managers, supervise the building of residential homes, commercial buildings, bridges, roads, hospitals, schools and other structures. They strive to direct workers efficiently with the goal of completing construction jobs under budget and on time.

These professionals often need several years of experience in the construction industry before they can advance to the position of construction manager. Once they get there, however, they can expect to earn a higher-than-average salary, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They can also expect to sometimes put in long hours on-the-job to make sure project deadlines are met.

Job Requirements

Obtaining a career as a construction superintendent often requires some form of postsecondary education and earning significant experience. The following table summarizes common requirements for construction superintendents.

Common Requirements
Degree Level High school diploma, associate's degree or bachelor's degree, depending on employer*
Degree Field Construction management, construction science, architecture, engineering*
Certification Certifications not required but recommended*
Experience 3-10 years in the field**
Key Skills Time management, strong speaking and listening skills, good vision***
Computer Skills Knowledge of AutoCAD, Microsoft Office suite software, Lombardi Teamworks, Axios Systems assyst, HCSS HeavyBid and UDA Construction Office Construction Management programs***

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job postings accessed in January 2013, ***ONET Online

Step 1: Choose an Educational Route

Several educational paths exist for potential construction superintendents. A high school diploma or an associate's degree, combined with work experience, can qualify one for some positions. However, acquiring a bachelor's degree in building science, civil engineering, construction management or construction science has become more common. Classes in these programs focus on design, cost estimating, contract administration, construction methods, building codes and other construction topics.

Success Tip:

  • Consider an internship. An internship can help an aspiring construction superintendent or manager gain the work experience needed for a construction superintendent job. Many schools offer assistance in finding an internship or even a part-time job.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience After Graduation

While internships or externships might be an option while attending school, many construction superintendents start their work experience after graduation in entry-level construction trades. Working in one of these positions can help an aspiring construction superintendent understand the responsibilities of the various workers needed to complete a construction job.

Success Tip:

  • Look for training opportunities. Some employers offer training for aspiring construction managers or superintendents by employing them as assistants to managers already on the job. Training periods can last weeks or months, with assistants gaining valuable experience before being asked to take on autonomous work responsibilities.

Step 3: Consider Certification

Voluntary certification is highly valued in the construction industry. Possessing certification can prove a construction superintendent's competence and experience. Many organizations offer professional designations. For example, the American Institute of Constructors offers the Associate Constructor and Certified Professional Constructor designations to applicants who pass an examination and meet work and education requirements (www.professionalconstructor.org). One also could become a Certified Construction Manager through the Construction Management Association of America (www.cmaanet.org).

Step 4: Consider Additional Education

Construction superintendents who want to stand out to employers might consider a master's degree program in construction science or construction management. Having an additional degree also could increase their chances at working for a large construction company. A master's degree program in construction management might include courses in contracts, construction finance and project management.

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