Career Profile: Construction Supervisor
Every project needs organization. When people build houses, offices, and schools, they need someone to keep track of progress and to make sure that everything is going according to the plan. Construction supervisors are in charge of making sure that all aspects of building projects have the right workers and materials and that the result is what the client needs.
When you go to the beach, you might build a sandcastle with moats and maybe a bridge and a few towers. How do you plan your structure? You might decide what to do as you go, but construction supervisors need to have a plan for how to get to the kind of building they need. They have to find the right materials and the workers who can put the building together. They will need to hire plumbers, electricians, and other tradespeople, including bricklayers and others who can do the work.
The first step is to find out what the clients need and then to decide what is possible. This involves a lot of discussion and research. Suppose that someone wanted to put a library onto the second floor of a building. A construction supervisor would need to know how strong the floor needs to be for heavy books without collapsing. If someone wanted to turn an old warehouse into apartments, the construction supervisor could give advice on how to plan the building.
Depending on where they work, construction supervisors might not need much education beyond high school. In some cases, they might need a degree in an area like engineering from a university, but they often learn much of the work on the job. Salaries start at about $47,000 but can climb to over $100,000 with experience. If people start as general labourers, it can take longer to get to the high salaries, but taking courses or specializing in an important field can help.
Sometimes it can also help to have knowledge or abilities that very few other people have so that clients with those requirements are likely to come to you for help. Being able to work with special materials or different types of architecture can help a construction supervisor find work.
Being a construction supervisor can give people the chance to pursue special interests, such as a certain kind of architecture or working with recycled materials. The can specialize in working for sports organizations or housing projects, or they can work more generally on whatever project happens to come up.
Almost every kind of management job involves being able to deal with people. Besides working with the clients, construction supervisors need to be able to hire good workers and to settle any problems that come up. The hours can be long, and supervisors have to spend a lot of the time at the building site rather than in an office. They should be able to read blueprints and to be able to see what needs to be done. Being a construction supervisor involves a lot of responsibility, but it can be a good career for the right person.
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