How to Become a Construction Supervisor (Step-by-Step Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 22 September 2022 | Published 8 November 2021

Updated 22 September 2022

Published 8 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you like hands-on work and seeing a project through to completion, a career as a construction supervisor can be a great opportunity for you. On-site construction supervisors oversee the safety and productivity of employees and complete important paperwork specific to each project. This leadership role can be both personally and professionally gratifying for the right individual, and learning more about it could help you decide if it's the right path for your interests and goals.

In this article, we discuss how to become a construction supervisor, outline their daily responsibilities and explore what skills they use to do their job well.

What is a construction supervisor?

A construction supervisor is the main authoritative figure on a construction site or during an ongoing project. An individual in this profession is highly knowledgeable of building safety regulations and building codes, which they can share with their team. A construction supervisor is typically an experienced tradesman who has advanced to this more management-based role.

As a construction supervisor, your working conditions are likely to vary based on the project that you're currently completing. Therefore, the working environment may range from an office setting to an outdoor building site.

How to become a construction supervisor

Listed below is a step-by-step guide that explains how to become a construction supervisor:

1. Complete your basic education

It's a requirement for most companies that construction supervisors complete a basic level of education, with completing high school as the minimum. Receiving a satisfactory grade in English and mathematics can make it easier for you to gain initial employment in the future. If your high school offers vocational, trade-specific subjects, such as welding or design and technology, these may be beneficial to take for increasing your technical skill.

2. Attend trade school or university

Attending a trade school or college can help you to prepare for a career in construction by providing you with the necessary skills and experience required. These trade courses can either be taken online or in-person and are usually one to two years in length. Popular subject choices at trade colleges include plumbing, carpentry and electrical courses.

While a university degree may not be required by all employers, having a bachelor's degree in a trade or business-oriented subject may help make your application stand out. A university degree shows discipline, knowledge and motivation to prospective employers. To become a successful construction supervisor, it's best to have a balance of being technically skilled while also being business savvy. Examples of beneficial university degrees for construction supervisors include the following:

  • building studies

  • civil construction

  • construction management

  • surveying

  • civil engineering

  • mechanical engineering

  • construction engineering

3. Apply for an apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are a great way to boost your level of technical skill and experience. There are plenty of hands-on apprenticeship programmes that can also equate to qualification by the end of the course. Apprenticeships provide a mix of classroom learning with on-site construction experience, so they can help you to gain confidence within your skill set. If you're interested in specialist construction work, you can apply for niche apprenticeships. These courses typically last four years and are predominantly taken after attending high school or a trade college.

For those wanting a career change into construction supervision, there are specific apprenticeships for mature students available across the country.

Related: What is an Apprenticeship?

4. Obtain a certification

Obtaining a certification in a relevant field can help to advance your career and broaden your skill set. Consider applying for a certificate in carpentry or building and construction. These certifications ensure that you're fully equipped with the technical and communication skills required to co-ordinate, plan and complete a construction project.

Related: Top 10 Certificates in Construction (With FAQs)

5. Develop a strong resume

Use your resume to emphasise your skills and experience. A resume based on practical experience shows prospective employers your expertise, increasing the likeliness of getting a job. Mention any relevant qualifications and transferrable skills.

6. Work full time as a construction worker

Most construction supervisors start as construction workers. Search online for jobs in construction to start applying. Look for companies that value employee growth to maximise your chances of being promoted. Gaining experience as a construction worker is also beneficial for increasing your level of experience, which is important for career advancement.

7. Consistently deliver

Consistently carry out your duties at a high standard to demonstrate your skill set to employers. By doing this, your talent and hard work are more likely to be recognised. This can lead to more career opportunities and place you in a favourable position for promotions.

8. Apply for supervisor roles

Once you have gained your qualifications, certifications and professional experience, you have all the right tools to become a construction supervisor. You can either search for construction supervisor jobs online or express your ambition to your current employer. Alternatively, you can put yourself forward for any upcoming promotions.

What does a construction supervisor do?

The daily tasks and responsibilities of a construction supervisor highly depend on the current building project. While working on a site-based project, a construction supervisor is responsible for a group of workers, who can include contractual tradesmen or independently sourced construction traders. One of their main on-site duties is to monitor construction progress and consistently perform quality checks on the ongoing work. Their responsibilities also include carrying out regular equipment and material site inspections to ensure that health and safety regulations are being followed. Additionally, they can manage the ordering and delivery of construction materials if it's required.

When not based on-site, construction supervisors typically prepare for their next upcoming project. This planning may include recruiting tradesmen and subcontractors, scheduling a construction timetable and meeting with architects. During this time between projects, a construction supervisor can offer compulsory or voluntary training sessions to staff. It's also their responsibility to keep up to date with the latest health and safety guidelines, which they then share with their project staff.

Key skills of construction supervisors

Construction supervisors require a dynamic skill set to lead their team to success. Efficient constructive supervisors often display the following key skills:

Leadership

As construction supervisors oversee a group of individuals who may not have worked together previously, strong leadership is essential. Construction supervisors delegate tasks efficiently to stay within a strict time schedule and ensure that the work is completed safely and to the highest quality. By practising active listening and increasing your emotional intelligence, you can develop great leadership skills. Remaining focused, passionate and encouraging also reflects well on you and your team.

Related: Top 6 Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Attention to detail

For construction supervisors, being detail-oriented is vital, since they handle a lot of paperwork, which requires close reading and understanding. From budgets to staff reports, these documents keep stakeholders updated on project progress, so it's imperative that all information is correct. Errors in technical work or safety precautions can also be hazardous for tradesmen and the reputation of a company, so supervisors require this skill.

Technical skills

Supervisors who possess a wide knowledge of construction and technical skills are better equipped to train and assist their teams. This ensures that supervisors can check staff work to a high standard. To refine your expertise, take a short course or apprenticeship programme to develop this skill.

Time management

The construction industry operates under tight deadlines. It's the responsibility of construction supervisors to plan projects and delegate tasks effectively to meet schedules. A thorough plan can help to keep these deadlines on track.

Related: Time Management Skills: The Importance of Including Them in Your Resume

How much do construction supervisors make?

The national average base salary of a construction supervisor is $90,270 per year. This pay can differ depending on your experience, employer, skill set and qualifications. Regional location can also affect income.

Average salary by location

Depending on the location of the construction supervisor, the average pay can vary. This is mainly due to differences in living costs which can affect general income rates. Pay is likely to be different between two construction supervisors with the same qualifications, experience and level of expertise, depending on their base location. Here are the recorded average annual salaries of a construction supervisor in Australia by city:

  • Sydney NSW: $101,291 per year

  • Melbourne VIC: $97,560 per year

  • Melton VIC: $92,320 per year

  • Geelong VIC: $90,413 per year

  • Perth WA: $89,426 per year

  • Brisbane QLD: $87,679 per year

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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