Excavation Foreman: Job Description, Outlook and Duties

Sep 25, 2019

Excavation foremen require little formal education. Learn about the job description, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

An excavation foreman is responsible for any earth removal in construction projects. They may oversee one or more projects, each with teams operating heavy machinery. This person needs to be able to balance budgets and deadlines while ensuring the safety of their team and the needs of the dig site.

Essential Information

An excavation foreman is a type of construction manager. This occupation typically requires at least a high school diploma and meaningful experience, both in the field in general, and as an assistant to a construction manager. Jobs that require formal college experience - either through an associate's or bachelor's degree program - are becoming more common.

Required Education High school diploma; college degree can boost employment prospects
Other Requirements Significant experience as an assistant; construction experience; voluntary professional certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 10% for construction managers*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $93,370 for construction managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

An excavation foreman plans and directs the digging and removal of earth as part of construction projects. Also referred to as a grade or grading foreman, this professional might need to maintain a budget and keep to a timeline while ensuring the overall productivity, quality and safety of a project. As a supervisor with deadlines, this individual often might work over 40 hours per week. A successful excavation foreman should be able to manage various activities at once, sometimes on different construction sites.

As with all construction managers, an excavation foreman needs to be flexible and decisive. This individual should work well under pressure and be able to face and overcome unexpected obstacles, including emergencies and bad weather. Excavation work is performed in projects that involve building highways, installing pipes or reclaiming mine areas. The grading foreman is responsible for the crew's overall safety and needs to recognize and react to any perceived safety threats on site. Possible excavation dangers include cave-ins, accidental falls and damage to unseen pipes or power lines.

Job Duties

An excavation foreman provides safeguards against dangers that are particular to excavation work. For example, the excavation foreman might decide which reinforcement system to install on the walls of a deep trench to prevent a cave-in. The foreman should be familiar with the type of soils on a site and should ensure appropriate monitoring of oxygen levels within an enclosed excavation area. An excavation foreman also might give specific instructions on how to excavate, including at what angle and to what depth the crew should dig.

Other responsibilities might include obtaining necessary permits, ensuring the project's compliance with codes and regulations, and overseeing team hiring. An excavation foreman might approve time cards and resolve disputes between workers. Knowledge in the use of specific computer software for project planning purposes might be necessary.

Career and Salary Information

Though statistics specific to excavation foremen are not currently available, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 10% growth in employment of construction managers in the years 2018-2028 ( The BLS reported that construction managers earned a median annual salary of $93,370 as of 2018.

Excavation foreman don't need any formal education program to enter this field, but they do need experience and a specific set of skills. Experience in the construction and excavation sector and an understanding of the required permits and regulations for their project are important in finding work. As this is a leadership position, an excavation foreman is also responsible for team management activities, including scheduling, time cards, and dispute resolution.

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