Construction Foreman (a.k.a. Foreperson) in BC
Ever wondered what exactly being a construction foreman/foreperson involves and how it is different from a superintendent role? Find out what foreman job responsibilities are, the skills needed to be a successful foreman, and how you can develop those skills by joining our union.
What Does a Construction Foreman/Foreperson Do?
Although ‘foreperson’ (or where relevant, the lesser used term ‘forewoman’) would be a more accurate term, the term construction ‘foreman’ is the industry norm and is inclusive of all people who are qualified to fulfil this role. Construction foremen are responsible for managing crews on site and ensuring the quality of work. Foreman jobs span all trades, with the key requirement being leadership experience within your trade.
Foreman jobs require an excellent understanding of the processes related to the work being done on a site as well as the ability to coordinate groups of people to ensure that work gets completed properly and within the expected timeframe. This is a hugely important role because a great foreman can make a significant impact on team morale and move a project forward.
Types of Foreman Jobs in BC
You may hear the term ‘foreman’ being used to refer to different types of site leaders.
A working foreman is a tradesperson who is carrying out their trade while also coordinating the other workers in that trade category. This is a person who is deeply knowledgeable about their particular craft. Aside from just performing your trade, you need to have a high level of personal skills.
A general foreman oversees multiple work crews of the same craft. This is a leadership role that involves managing general crews rather than doing the carpentry work. Experience as a general foreman may lead to a role with more responsibilities, such as a junior, assistant, or full superintendent role.
What’s the Difference Between Foreman Jobs and Superintendent Jobs?
The leadership roles needed on site depend on the size of a project. For larger projects, there will be a superintendent, who needs to have a higher level of knowledge than a foreperson.
This is a person who needs to understand how all the trades involved in the project fit together to achieve the outcome because they are responsible for coordinating multiple trades, including the costing of materials and ensuring the project stays within budget.
To be a superintendent you generally require ten years in a trade plus five years of leadership experience. A superintendent needs to be able to forecast different pieces of a project months ahead of time to ensure all the pieces fit together for a successful project. A foreman, on the other hand, is more knowledgeable about their own craft and overseeing that specific work.
How to Qualify for Construction Foreman Jobs
If you have accumulated a lot of experience in your trade by working in the field for several years as a journeyperson and display the personal characteristics necessary to be an effective leader, a foreman job might be a great fit for you.
As a union, our wage schedules are built into our collective agreements with our contractors. You work up to level 8 and then venture out as a journeyperson in the 100% wage category. Foreman jobs are the next wage level above journeyperson (115%). Superintendent is above foreman (but is considered a management position and is therefore outside of our bargaining unit).
Personal skills are extremely important as a foreman. In addition to a thorough understanding of your trade, you need to be fair, professional, and knowledgeable to be able to command the respect of your crew(s). You’ll need to manage different personalities, resolve conflicts, and motivate your crew to ensure project components get completed on time.
Foreman jobs are usually filled by promotion from within an organization. This means that if a tradesperson is interested in a foreman job, it’s important to show initiative and understand how trades beyond your scope fit together and with your own. If you have a natural knack for leadership, including great communication, time management, site awareness, and problem-solving skills, then you’re on the right track.
Career Advancement Training for Foreman Jobs in BC
Part of how we offer careers in construction rather than just construction jobs is through our career-advancement training. In addition to safety training, equipment training, and specialized skills training, we offer programs at UBC’s International Training Center in Las Vegas that take our members’ careers to the next level. Beginning in the third year of apprenticeship, members are offered courses to develop the type of skills that are needed to be a construction foreman, including:
- Leadership skills
- Relationship management and conflict-resolution skills
- Communication skills
- Empathy skills
- Self-awareness skills
These skills help you become a more effective job site leader by enhancing your ability to integrate into a team, communicate effectively, and contribute to a healthy, productive job site culture. This not only reduces costly staff turnover but also helps contractors succeed and bid on more projects, thus providing more work for our members.
Join Us and Find Foreman Jobs in BC
Have a look at our job board to get an idea of current foreman jobs available through our contractors.