A Day in the Life of a Construction Superintendent
Have you ever considered what it takes to run a construction project? Who manages it? How does the project all come together? Recently one of our long-time superintendents shared with us what it’s like to be a superintendent and what he’s learned throughout his career. For those considering working in the field, Superintendent Scott Trueman offers an intriguing glimpse of what daily life looks like on the job site.
How and why did you become a superintendent?
Why I became a superintendent is easy – it’s because I love what this position offers. I enjoy getting my hands dirty with the hands-on work, working with various people in many different trades, and being outdoors. I like walking out onto an open field, an empty lot, or a decrepit building and knowing that when I’m done with my job, a fully restored building, training facility, or high rise will be there because of the work I accomplished.
The “how” is a longer story. In 2004, I started as a carpenter’s apprentice and worked in that capacity for several years. I really enjoyed working hands-on to create and build, but at some point, while working outdoors in over 100° weather and knowing I had more to offer, college started sounding like a pretty good idea! So, I enrolled at the University of Central Missouri and earned my bachelor’s degree in Construction Management in 2009. My first job out of college was at a small general contracting business, which showed me what this industry had to offer and what I wanted to work towards. I later joined Ross Group as a project engineer, where I was able to learn additional skills both in construction and management. At Ross Group I continued to refine my skills and worked my way up to a superintendent.
You have a Bachelor of Science degree. Is it required to have a degree to become a superintendent?
No, it’s not necessary to have a college degree. Many superintendents don’t have a degree and work their way up through the ranks. They gain extra field experience and knowledge of how jobs are run - learning how something works in the real word versus how it is taught through a book. This is why I’m grateful for the work I put in prior to getting my degree - I was able to get real world experience on the jobsite. Although I have found that my degree is extremely beneficial as it helps me with the management side of the job, such as the ability to understand the logistics of RFI’s, plans, specifications, scheduling, and so on.
What do you do each day in the field?
My days consist of continually monitoring the jobsite, subcontractors, and schedules while simultaneously planning and coordinating on-site work. I start by walking the job site to verify that progress is being made by each trade and each specific project area. Specifically, I review what was accomplished the previous day and then confirm that we are meeting our schedule durations - which is the time allotted for a specific subcontractor to complete their scope of work.
After walking the site, I review the plan of what is scheduled to be accomplished that day. I hold daily morning meetings and weekly progress meetings with the subcontractors and foreman, where I discuss the activities needed to keep progress moving and verify the quality of materials brought to the jobsite. One of the things I spend a large portion of my day on is the schedule. Each part of the job relies on the completion of another part, so if one aspect progresses faster or slower than expected, I need to ensure the schedule reflects these changes while maintaining our timing.
What hours are your typical workday?
I have worked a lot of different hours in this role. Most commonly, you’ll work your standard 8-hour days. Each job is different, but typically I open the jobsite for subcontractors to start work between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and I end my day around 3:30 p.m. Some jobs will have natural lulls that provide for more flexibility in the end of day hours. Every job will have crucial work time frames that require more work hours as the project progresses, which will change the end of day to between 4:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. Occasionally, I have spent more time on a job due to the schedule beginning to slip or if time needed to be made up due to some delay, such as weather. The hours clocked on the job reflect what phase of the project you are on and what is happening on the jobsite on a given day. As the superintendent, I can schedule and plan for these days and am normally able to dictate the hours that can be worked on the job.
Is there a lot of travel?
This position does allow you the opportunity to travel depending on where the job is. In the beginning of my career, without my own family, I moved around every 1.5 – 2 years to complete different projects. During that time, I would rent a house or an apartment near the project location and return home periodically. Then, I had the ability to stay in Tulsa for about 5 years with my wife and kids. Sometimes when Ross Group is awarded a job in one city, other jobs follow, so you have the option to stay put for a while.
This position is great if you do want to travel and see some beautiful parts of the country, but it also allows for some flexibility. The good thing is, you always have a voice to say if you like to move or prefer to stay in one location. Right now, I’m in Austin, Texas and for this project, although unusual, my family moved with me because we have extended family here.
Interested in hearing more from Scott and working in the field? Stay tuned next week to hear about some of the challenges and rewards of working in this role!