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Host

How did you get your start doing construction superintendent work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

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kenvalentino@earthlink.net in Hagerstown, Maryland

82 months ago

The most successful Superintendents are those that began their careers as Apprentices in a trade, then worked as Journeyman, then Foremen then Assistant Superintendent, and then Superintendent. That is the old way, but still the best way. In the past, Superintendents were most often carpenters. The reason for this is that Union carpenters traditionally set up trailers/offices, did layout for foundations, etc., built formwork, did interior framing and drywall, door frames and doors/hardware and were their until the end of the Project. Their involvement was much broader and deeper than my description, of course, but you get the idea. Also, the carpenter had to coordinate his work with the other trades and so became familiar with their work as well.

Times have changed and now a college degree has taken the place of all of this experience and knowledge (what is college but accumulation of knowledge?). Or, a fellow becomes a Superintendent because he is needed to fill the space, and has experience in a particular kind of work. Worst of all, young people expect to be given high paying, responsible positions to which they are neither trained nor really qualofied for.

If insuring something conforms to a spec., or if a schedule is being met qualifies as the Superintendent's role, then their is no need for college as anyone can do that who can read, and absorbed some basic instructions.

Most larger companies value the Superintendent's I describe. When you look at their websites you will note they usually seek craft superintendents (it or .e.-piping, equipment, pile driver, carpenter, ironworker) or an individual who has a general in depth knowledge of all the trades as a Projet Superintendent. Usually they want 15 plus years of experience as a Superintendent.

The best "moves" as you call them, are to take it seriously, learn as much as you can everyday, and apply it to the work.

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ken in Hagerstown, Maryland

82 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing construction superintendent work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

I forgot to mention that a favorite question is to ask what is the headache ball on a crane for, and why are they different sizes? Experienced Superintendents know this and it makees a difference in planning some parts of a job. Or, why use a smooth drum roller vs. a sheepsfoot roller, and why are they called sheepsfoot roller anyway?

Questions like this are important for a Superintendent to know and understand, and I suppose another important question is why(?).

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Carol in Brooklyn, New York

81 months ago

I've been a woman in the field for a few years. My husband was a finish carpenter and I picked up the business by helping him. I went to a company that allowed me to learn and work my way up the ladder so to speak, until I was running all phases of remodel jobs. I moved to VA and applied for a job to be a punch out tech. They looked at my resume and hired me as an Asst. Super. I found men that I respected and I learned from them. Asked questions, lots of them, and studied prints until I knew what I was looking at. Now I'm a finish end super in high rise in NYC.

Common sense in this industry is a must

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Mark Krall 724-620-0887 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

80 months ago

I have 12 years experience as a retail construction superintendent traveling throughout the eastern half of the U.S.A. supervising various retail construction projects.
I am looking for a position of employment matching this experience.
Please contact me with employer(s) looking for traveling superintendents.
Thank You for your contact.
Mark J. Krall
724-620-0997

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zeke gardon in Tacoma, Washington

79 months ago

just get drunk and go for it. It's the best way

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Gonzo Zaldumbide in Plantation, Florida

68 months ago

Host said: How did you get your start doing construction superintendent work, and what career moves did you make to get to your current position?

Do you need a particular educational background?

you need to get all your current OSHA certifications, computer skills, and get your leed green certifications!!!!

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clarifying in Astoria, New York

62 months ago

To the gentleman in Hagerstown MD, you are wrong.
College is far more than an accumulation of knowledge. It is, besides any specialized field of study, the practical aplication of learning on a higher level. It is learning in a different environment and challenging oneself outside of the "comfort zone." Also, be wary of the broad strokes with which you paint young people- high jobs, high responsibility, low success rates...these seem to be issues that you are familiar with in your personal experience- but they are NOT the norm neccessarily across the board, I can assure you of that.

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gregsbabe1 in Denver, Colorado

61 months ago

kenvalentino@earthlink.net in Hagerstown, Maryland said: The most successful Superintendents are those that began their careers as Apprentices in a trade, then worked as Journeyman, then Foremen then Assistant Superintendent, and then Superintendent. That is the old way, but still the best way. In the past, Superintendents were most often carpenters. The reason for this is that Union carpenters traditionally set up trailers/offices, did layout for foundations, etc., built formwork, did interior framing and drywall, door frames and doors/hardware and were their until the end of the Project. Their involvement was much broader and deeper than my description, of course, but you get the idea. Also, the carpenter had to coordinate his work with the other trades and so became familiar with their work as well.

Times have changed and now a college degree has taken the place of all of this experience and knowledge (what is college but accumulation of knowledge?). Or, a fellow becomes a Superintendent because he is needed to fill the space, and has experience in a particular kind of work. Worst of all, young people expect to be given high paying, responsible positions to which they are neither trained nor really qualofied for.

If insuring something conforms to a spec., or if a schedule is being met qualifies as the Superintendent's role, then their is no need for college as anyone can do that who can read, and absorbed some basic instructions.

Most larger companies value the Superintendent's I describe. When you look at their websites you will note they usually seek craft superintendents (it or .e.-piping, equipment, pile driver, carpenter, ironworker) or an individual who has a general in depth knowledge of all the trades as a Projet Superintendent. Usually they want 15 plus years of experience as a Superintendent.

You are right on. College is great, but it will never take the place of on the job training. As i have learned.Degree does not equal experience.

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jayglass07 in Houston, Texas

61 months ago

gregsbabe1 in Denver, Colorado said:

I don't know just what the higher education will do for the new super's of today but to me there is no subsitute for OTJ training. I have 20yrs in as a Super and am a second generation super and a third generation carperter.So I was trained on the job and picked up all that i could from all the trades.I do know alot and even though you have all this education it still does nothing if you can't find work or a company that will work you and not expect 80 to 100hr a week for a salury position. Hope this industry turns around soon.

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clarifying in Allentown, Pennsylvania

60 months ago

Again- the "higher education" and it's ultimate goals/purpose was stated in the prior post. At no point did I say that OTJ was to be superseded or otherwise replaced by a college degree. However, the posters that seem to lament the fact of the presence of degrees the most are the ones that would agree that an education is going to be a neccessity in the coming years to be a leader in Construction. Simply put, a happy medium of the two would be an ideal situation. However, those that say that education or a degree is not important will soon find themselves obsolete and outdated.

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gregsbabe1 in Denver, Colorado

60 months ago

I don't know what a piece of paper will do for me after 25 years of experience and going from a framer to owning my own business as well as being a Superintendent and a PM. Do the employers want skill and experience or a piece of paper?

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jayglass07 in Mansfield, Texas

60 months ago

gregsbabe1 in Denver, Colorado said: I don't know what a piece of paper will do for me after 25 years of experience and going from a framer to owning my own business as well as being a Superintendent and a PM. Do the employers want skill and experience or a piece of paper?

A lot of construction companies that are out there want you to work with all your skills, but pay you as if you just got out of collage. It's not right that there are companies that are takin advantage of a lot of us super's. It makes me think twice about even staying in this industy. The good or the bad of that is construction is still what I love to do. To take a bare piece of ground and walk away from it with a completed building or strip all or a resturant. And get paid well to do it.

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gregsbabe1 in Denver, Colorado

60 months ago

jayglass07 in Mansfield, Texas said: A lot of construction companies that are out there want you to work with all your skills, but pay you as if you just got out of collage. It's not right that there are companies that are takin advantage of a lot of us super's. It makes me think twice about even staying in this industy. The good or the bad of that is construction is still what I love to do. To take a bare piece of ground and walk away from it with a completed building or strip all or a resturant. And get paid well to do it.

I can deal with having to prove myself to get the pay, but right now it is just getting a company to call you about your resume. I am willing to go anywhere for work, but there are so many out of work it is hard to get noticed, even with all my experience and skills.

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Walter Miner in Hialeah, Florida

59 months ago

Please let me tell you this. I have an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering, B.S. In Business Adninistration, Masters in Construction Management. I was working with a hammer and handsaw, when I was a youngster with my Dad & Uncle. Over the years I hae learned more in the field than anyone can teach you in a classroom. When you are in the field do you really think all that education does any good? It does not, it is the experience of 35 years that solves problems!

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Billy Y in Florence, Kentucky

59 months ago

Walter Miner in Hialeah, Florida said: Please let me tell you this. I have an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering, B.S. In Business Adninistration, Masters in Construction Management. I was working with a hammer and handsaw, when I was a youngster with my Dad & Uncle. Over the years I hae learned more in the field than anyone can teach you in a classroom. When you are in the field do you really think all that education does any good? It does not, it is the experience of 35 years that solves problems!

Amen to that!!!!! Nothing is better than OTJ training
I am finding out that alot of companies want that degree though, I beleive that experience is your best bet,But the bigger companies want college degree's
I hay a friend that works for one of the big boys and I went down a talked with him because (I am laid off) when I found out he was the main superintendent on this big high rise and he told me that I may as well go back to school if I want any chance of getting on with any bigger company !!! So I guess @45 years old I will be going back to school. I started when I was 15 years when I started so with 30 years under my belt. I now need that degree to get my foot in the door because that is what the bigger companies want,I guess I wasted 30 years of my life!!!!

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Walter Miner in Hialeah, Florida

59 months ago

Billy Y,

There may be a "short cut" for you that you may want to look into? I really don't know your background but I am guessing that you are looking for a Superintendent position? I may be wrong, but I am just trying to help someone such as myself "outta work"!

I find that having been in positions such as Senior P.M. or Field Manager, Area Superintendent, Project Coordinator, General Superintendent I am having to consider going back to school myself. I do think this is crap! The reason solid people are forced to go back to school is "NOT" what you friend told you about going to work for the "big companies" you need college! It is the fact that people who have their Doctorate or Phd in in a constrution related field for example are out of work also.

NOW the very few employers that are hiring are saying to themselves, "Wait a minute why pay a Site Super on a high rise $130,000 with NO college when we can get the guy or gal that was making $250K or more BECAUSE they have all the education for the $100K? Am I making sense? I am currently looking into becomeing a "Certified Project Manager", seems to be a big deal now. So what I am saying is look maybe into some area schools that offer certification in construction management or something like that. I don't know about you but at 57 I am not really into going to school all over again! These are supposed to be the years that I have a good job, in the upper-end of management, not starting over. I do hope maybe this advice makes some sense to you Certificates in Lieu of degrees. It will show that you are still working to better qualify yourself to a prospective employer. Also, REMEMBER this or whatever route you take degree versus certification PUT it in your resume that you are CURRENTLY going to school. This does impress the intelligent hiring person. After I all typed this and I have not even had my first coffee I hope maybe I have helped you with my comments.

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Gino in London, Ontario

59 months ago

I've never been part of a forum before. Anyways, I've learned just about everything I know about construction on the job. Although I don't, and never will, know everything, I've learned alot. I feel confident enough to understand every job, work through any problem on the job, and see any job through to the end. Between my family and work, I don't have the time to go back to school, but I would like to. I think I may look into a certificate program in project management, and hopefully be able to do some on line and part time, I think it would be worth while. I'm sure many of the seasoned construction vets and the newbies out there apprenticing or comming out of school will all agree that there will never be a substitute for the knowledge gained from being in the trenches and getting your hands dirty. Thanks for the discussion.

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Joseph Barboni in atlanta, Georgia

58 months ago

kenvalentino@earthlink.net in Hagerstown, Maryland said: The most successful Superintendents are those that began their careers as Apprentices in a trade, then worked as Journeyman, then Foremen then Assistant Superintendent, and then Superintendent. That is the old way, but still the best way. In the past, Superintendents were most often carpenters. The reason for this is that Union carpenters traditionally set up trailers/offices, did layout for foundations, etc., built formwork, did interior framing and drywall, door frames and doors/hardware and were their until the end of the Project. Their involvement was much broader and deeper than my description, of course, but you get the idea. Also, the carpenter had to coordinate his work with the other trades and so became familiar with their work as well.

Times have changed and now a college degree has taken the place of all of this experience and knowledge (what is college but accumulation of knowledge?). Or, a fellow becomes a Superintendent because he is needed to fill the space, and has experience in a particular kind of work. Worst of all, young people expect to be given high paying, responsible positions to which they are neither trained nor really qualofied for.

If insuring something conforms to a spec., or if a schedule is being met qualifies as the Superintendent's role, then their is no need for college as anyone can do that who can read, and absorbed some basic instructions.

Most larger companies value the Superintendent's I describe. When you look at their websites you will note they usually seek craft superintendents (it or .e.-piping, equipment, pile driver, carpenter, ironworker) or an individual who has a general in depth knowledge of all the trades as a Projet Superintendent. Usually they want 15 plus years of experience as a Superintendent.

The best "moves" as you call them, are to take it seriously, learn as much as you can everyday, and apply it to the wo

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Joseph Barboni in atlanta, Georgia

58 months ago

This sounds like you work for a tail gate construction company as a superintendent. There are so many different types of construction superintendents and as a superintendent you would have to know what part of the industry you would like to be in and know this area better then your crew and subcontractors.Communication, commitment , training along with good safety habits and very long days will help you get where you would like to be . 30 years and another 20 to go. signed Heavy Civil

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ajmldm in Frederick, Maryland

58 months ago

jayglass07 in Houston, Texas said: I don't know just what the higher education will do for the new super's of today but to me there is no subsitute for OTJ training. I have 20yrs in as a Super and am a second generation super and a third generation carperter.So I was trained on the job and picked up all that i could from all the trades.I do know alot and even though you have all this education it still does nothing if you can't find work or a company that will work you and not expect 80 to 100hr a week for a salury position. Hope this industry turns around soon.

Please note that I am not college educated, however a college degree on your resume will help you move up the chain of command. When I started in construction learning on job was the way to go. This is changing. A degree will show a company that you are willing to learn, and have the ability and desire. The problem you see with many superintendents is they do not want to change, and/or adapt to new means and methods. I wish I gotten a degree 20 years ago as I might be further a long in my career path.

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Ole Mac in Hubert, North Carolina

57 months ago

Billy Y in Florence, Kentucky said: Amen to that!!!!! Nothing is better than OTJ training
I am finding out that alot of companies want that degree though, I beleive that experience is your best bet,But the bigger companies want college degree's
I hay a friend that works for one of the big boys and I went down a talked with him because (I am laid off) when I found out he was the main superintendent on this big high rise and he told me that I may as well go back to school if I want any chance of getting on with any bigger company !!! So I guess @45 years old I will be going back to school. I started when I was 15 years when I started so with 30 years under my belt. I now need that degree to get my foot in the door because that is what the bigger companies want,I guess I wasted 30 years of my life!!!!

I AGREE !!!! As a 20+ yr super, I am amazed that now I seem to need a degree to do what I've been doing for decades! Now we are being victimized by these "children" who are in the HR depts of the firms we are soliciting (none of whom know a nail from a screw). They are not willing to pay for our experience, they would rather save a few bucks to hire the rookies and pay them to make the mistakes we already learned from. I think it is poetic justice!

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TheButcher357 in Detroit, Michigan

57 months ago

Walter Miner in Hialeah, Florida said: Please let me tell you this. I have an Associate Degree in Mechanical Engineering, B.S. In Business Adninistration, Masters in Construction Management. I was working with a hammer and handsaw, when I was a youngster with my Dad & Uncle. Over the years I hae learned more in the field than anyone can teach you in a classroom. When you are in the field do you really think all that education does any good? It does not, it is the experience of 35 years that solves problems!

Awesome and well spoken, guess how many jobs I have went in and cleaned up for employers who hire young people out of college at lower wages. Its a gamble strategy but seems to pay off for my employer because he has someone with 25+ years experience to "get er done" Signed Union Carpenter turned Super

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broke and out of work! in Elmira, New York

56 months ago

Yeah right out of college. I turned over three houses in drywall and completely dried in to a scholar with a edjubacation lol! Oh yeah by the way they were prarie built in the wet perk season with gps stakeouts.I had them in drywall in 45 days.2 months later this guys hadnt ordered rails and the cabinets were sitting in the kitchen.There was tile in one of them I think? They held this guys hand I never seen him on the phone or walking his houses. I put up 15 Townhouses before they were done and maybe 2-3 single families.The next guy comes along and the areaway gets poured right under the kitchen slider and no one catches it till after drywall.Its not that hard and should bee real easy for these educated morons. Keep your schedule, walk your houses, and take care of all the crybaby subs all day! Squeeze in a few inspections and deliveries wow god I miss it what a gravy job to have.

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accountable in New York, New York

56 months ago

I am sure it had nothing to do with your attitude, spelling, or general apparent lack of teamwork...
Instead of reffering to them as "educated morons" why don't you put aside your apparent insecurities and help them with what you do know...who knows- maybe they will help you with something?

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broke and out of work! in Elmira, New York

56 months ago

Look I was tired and in pain due to recently contracting shingles.
My point was that he was supposed to be superior by todays standards and requirements.But he was generally a lazy retard. I would rather have worked with a 5 year super or punchout guy instead thats all.You don't drop a schedule and four houses into the lap of a college grad with no experience.Also, I tried to help the moron but he just couldnt get it. Not to mention not my job with 40 houses under construction.

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accountable in Bronx, New York

56 months ago

Fair enough brokesmans-
There is no excuse for being lazy- not in this man's industry! Education or no education!
A good question I would like to ask him was:"what does he want?" I.e. did he think this was just a stepping stone to being a VP somewhere or did he legitimately want to be a "field guy"?...there are some college educated persons out there who are genuine "field people" but they grew up around construction or were in the military or had some extenuating circumstance as such...

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gwallace82 in Houston, Texas

42 months ago

I have read through majority of the posting and I must say I had know idea experienced individuals are being pushed to get some formal education.

I have my degree in construction management and I am currently working out in the field as a mechanic/carpenter. It has been a rewarding; however it has been a constant financial struggle starting from the bottom.

For the mature generations I can only imagine your situation, but on the turn side it’s like us we only have the theoretical knowledge and you guys have the practical knowledge.
If I was a business owner I would choose the practical knowledge any day.

This set up is great for employers and crappie for the employees!

Formal edu – practical exp = less pay
Practical exp – formal edu = less pay

What employers want now!

Practical exp + formal edu = higher pay

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patwilliamson55 in Spring, Texas

36 months ago

Ole Mac in Hubert, North Carolina said: I AGREE !!!! As a 20+ yr super, I am amazed that now I seem to need a degree to do what I've been doing for decades! Now we are being victimized by these "children" who are in the HR depts of the firms we are soliciting (none of whom know a nail from a screw). They are not willing to pay for our experience, they would rather save a few bucks to hire the rookies and pay them to make the mistakes we already learned from. I think it is poetic justice!

Well I'm one of those rookies (with a degree in const mgt and about 6 years of trade experience) and it's no picnic for us either. After submitting hundreds of resumes and networking all I know how, I have had a grand total of 2 interviews, one of which turned out to be for a laborer position.

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