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What is a Field Superintendent?

A Field Superintendent is the linchpin of construction projects, expertly steering operations on-site. They ensure timelines are met, quality is upheld, and safety protocols are followed, acting as the vital communication bridge between workers and upper management. Their leadership is pivotal for success. How does their role impact the final structure? Join us as we examine the foundations of their influence.
M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet

A field superintendent is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the day-to-day work of a commercial construction project, such as the erection of an apartment complex or the addition of a wing to a hospital. Usually employed by a general contractor, he works on-site, supervising the activities of all subcontractors in accordance with each project’s overall plans. In many cases, he must also manage the ordering and delivery of supplies and ensure that all safety regulations are observed. A field superintendent may be required to hold a degree in engineering or a related subject. Additionally, he must have strong communication and time management skills.

In most cases, a field superintendent is employed by a general contractor, or a firm responsible for the overall design and execution of a construction project. The general contractor usually hires smaller, specialized firms — or subcontractors — such as plumbers and electricians to carry out specific construction tasks. One of the primary jobs of the field superintendent is to act as an on-site liaison between the general contractor and its subcontractors. He oversees the work of all subcontractors, ensuring that it fulfills all design and safety specifications and is completed in accordance with a project’s time line.

The field superintendent must attend to the safety of all present on her work site.
The field superintendent must attend to the safety of all present on her work site.

Often, the field superintendent is responsible for ordering the materials necessary to execute a project. He may coordinate material deliveries and might arrange supplier payments. In the case of larger projects, however, individual subcontractors may manage their own supply needs.

As there is a high risk of accidents on most construction sites, the field superintendent must attend to the safety of all present on his site. In the US, he must ensure that each step of the project at hand conforms to the regulations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. This may include anything from ensuring that all machine operators are licensed to informing workers about the presence of hazardous materials on his site.

A field superintendent must have strong communication skills.
A field superintendent must have strong communication skills.

While it may be possible for a construction employee to work his way up to a field superintendent position over time, increasingly contractors require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related subject. In addition to this requirement, a field superintendent must also be comfortable working in an environment that can be noisy and muddy. Finally, he must be able to effectively communicate with his own employer, the building owner, his subcontractors, and his suppliers, and must be able to direct all work in accordance with his project’s time line.

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    • The field superintendent must attend to the safety of all present on her work site.
      By: Halfpoint
      The field superintendent must attend to the safety of all present on her work site.
    • A field superintendent must have strong communication skills.
      By: mavil
      A field superintendent must have strong communication skills.
    • A field superintendent will oversee all aspects of a construction project.
      By: Fotolia RAW
      A field superintendent will oversee all aspects of a construction project.