Become an Excavation Superintendent: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become an excavation superintendent. Learn about the job duties and read the step-by-step process to starting a career as an excavation superintendent.

Should I Become an Excavation Superintendent?

Excavation superintendents organize and direct the digging and transportation of materials, such as earth and remnants of old structures, to prepare sites for construction. To lead these projects, these professionals must be experienced in managing people and resources, as well as in the use of excavation machinery.

Excavation superintendents tend to make higher-than-average salaries, though they often have to either put in several years worth of experience as construction laborers or earn a degree before they can advance to this position. Additionally, the work can be physically demanding even at the management level.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma
Experience 5-15 years of experience
Certification Voluntary
Key Skills Customer service skills, management skills, building skills, math skills, human resource skills; Microsoft Excel and Outlook, database software, project management software; experience with welding equipment, lifts, power saws, tools
Salary $94.590 (mean annual salary as of May 2014)

Sources: job postings (February 2013), O*Net OnLine, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Step 1: Obtain Excavation Employment

The path toward becoming an excavation superintendent often starts with entry-level employment as a laborer at a construction site. A high school diploma, the absence of a criminal record, references from previous employers, the ability to lift heavy loads and a willingness to work long hours are important considerations in assessing suitability for excavation work.

Success Tip:

  • Look for apprenticeship programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many associations and unions sponsor laborer apprenticeship programs. Typically a high school diploma is required, and applicants must be 18 years of age or older. These programs typically include both technical and on-the-job training (

Step 2: Consider Earning a Degree

Because excavation superintendents manage people and materials and oversee a complex construction process, experience and job proficiency alone may not provide all the necessary skills. An associate or bachelor's degree program in construction management also provides knowledge of sound business practices that are necessary in overseeing all aspects of site preparation work. Large companies that undertake massive construction projects may prefer to employ an excavation superintendent who has a degree in a related discipline like construction management or construction engineering.

Step 3: Obtain Professional Certification

The successful completion of a certification program through a respected organization is a sign of an excavation superintendent's commitment to career professionalism. Certification and recertification by the American Institute of Construction Certification Commission or the Construction Management Association of America are awarded on the basis of experience and education. Continuing education keeps the superintendent current on industry trends and management practices.

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