What Does a Foreman Do? (Plus 9 Essential Skills)

Updated 11 February 2023

Foremen are essential members of productive teams in many industries. Their responsibilities may vary based on their employer and industry, but they're typically responsible for managing a group of employees. Learning what a foreman does may help you decide if you want to pursue such positions. In this article, we discuss the definition of a foreman, describe what they do, provide a list of industries in which they work and give examples of skills they commonly have.

Related: What Is a Supervisor Role? (With Interview Expectations)

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What does a foreman do?

Here's a list of typical responsibilities of a foreman:

  • supervises employees

  • sets deadlines for each job or task

  • keeps inventory of materials/equipment needed for the job

  • enforces safety procedures

  • keeps accurate records of all expenses incurred in the process of construction

  • maintains records of work completed on each job to ensure the integrity of the building's structure.

  • oversees the safety of all team members

  • advises on the safety of equipment used on site

  • acts as the liaison for suppliers of materials

  • instructs team members on how to perform tasks and problems with tools or machines

  • plans jobs, supplies and equipment

  • leads team members in actual construction as required by the project manager

  • stores any debris from the job site to ensure proper disposal

  • identifies damage to buildings from construction concerns such as leaks or structural problems

Related: What Does a Medical Science Liaison Do? Key Responsibilities

What is a foreman?

A foreman is a person in charge of leading a number of employees in a particular field or profession, such as construction or engineering. The term is also used to describe the leader of a team of employees and can also refer to someone who is in charge of the overall management. A foreman may have experience in management and expertise in the particular field in which they work.

Related: What Is the Role of a Manager? (Plus Other Management FAQs)

Why are foremen important?

Foremen are important because they organise their team members' efforts into a coordinated team effort. This helps teams provide better services or products, improves production per hour or per day, reduces waste per time or per product, improves workplace safety and allows team members to use their own initiative in completing tasks. They also provide guidance, support and direction to their subordinates.

Related: Job Description for Construction Workers: Duties and Skills

What are the benefits of being a foreman?

There are multiple benefits that come with being a foreman, depending on the type of work you do. Here's a list of some benefits of working as a foreman:

  • Provide you with managerial experience: Working as a foreman can provide you with insights on how to manage people, which can be useful later if you decide to pursue a career in managing projects.

  • Increase your income: Depending on the type of work and industry that you're in, being a foreman can help increase your income through greater job responsibilities and your involvement in the planning stage of projects.

  • Broaden your career opportunities: If you manage a large number of employees and manage projects, your experience as a foreman can help you gain additional work experience in the field.

  • Develop new skills: A foreman can improve their knowledge of new skills and techniques in the industry that employs them.

Related: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

What industries use foremen?

Here's a list of industries that typically use foremen and a description of how they use them:


Foremen in the construction industry, supervise and coordinate the activities of team members on a construction site. Construction foremen are responsible for scheduling labour, equipment and materials during the course of a project. Construction foremen also ensure that their teams complete all tasks to meet regulatory requirements, project budget and schedule. Based on their experience level, a construction foreman can lead a team of employees to accomplish required tasks.

Related: 12 Types of Construction Workers (Including Salary)


A mining foreman is a supervisor who ensures that team members follow safety guidelines and environmental regulations. They also manage work crews within their area as directed by their superior officer or as assigned by management. Mining foremen are typically assigned to specific areas of the mine, where they supervise the work of their subordinates.

Related: Project Manager Skills and Duties (With Examples)

Public safety

A public safety foreman is responsible for ensuring the safe operation of a department or an entire division. They're in charge of hiring, training and assigning work assignments to team members. Public safety foremen may be in charge of hiring new employees, performing performance reviews, directing the hiring process, placing employees on training programmes or putting them through disciplinary actions.


The foreman in shipping ensures that all operations are efficient. Employers often assign foremen to oversee specific areas within a marine division, including the planning of personnel assignments, scheduling production quotas and quality control over products produced by the fleet while on board. The foreman's also responsible for ensuring that the ship has good crew morale and good leadership among the entire crew. The foreman may also ensure that all departments are functioning properly. If an emergency arises, the foreman may quickly take charge of the situation so that other departments don't handle the situation alone.

Related: A Guide to Cargo Supervisor Job Responsibilities (With Work Environment)


Engineering foremen are responsible for ensuring that all their teams complete all engineering departmental safely, on time and within budget. They're also in charge of supervising their team of engineers to ensure that they complete all engineering projects according to the specifications. Engineering foremen are in charge of coordinating the work with other departments so that no conflicts arise regarding job duties.

Related: What Does an Engineering Manager Do? (With Tips and Salary)

9 foreman skills

Here's a list of skills that foremen commonly have, with a description of each one:

1. Leadership

Foremen use leadership skills to get their teams to work together and accomplish tasks. Foremen try to get their teams to be more productive through motivation, delegation, hiring the right people for the job, setting up work schedules and using positive reinforcement. Foremen are also in charge of projects, which can include any number of other supervisory positions. They're responsible for managing the work of every job site's team members to ensure quality results through cooperation and coordination with other positions on the project team.

2. Communication

A foreman's job requires communication skills because they often pass the information along to other staff members and members of upper management. For example, a foreman may communicate information about when they may complete work or when materials may arrive. They may also communicate with customers and clients to give updates on projects.

3. Management

Foremen in management positions oversee and manage the activities of team members in a group or area of responsibility. For example, a construction foreman is responsible for managing the activities of team members on a construction site including leading and directing their crew, monitoring safety guidelines and environmental regulations. Effective management may improve the overall results of a project and improve its efficiency.

4. Problem-solving

A foreman may use problem-solving skills to arrive at a solution for a project's problems. For example, if team members are having trouble communicating with each other, a foreman may help them work out their conflicts. Foremen may also solve problems for an entire department or area of responsibility by improving processes, developing new systems or finding new solutions for problems.

5. Teamwork

Foremen often work with other supervisory positions to get job sites completed and on schedule. They may also coordinate activities among teams for better results between the various departments and functions of the site. For example, a construction foreman may work closely with their project engineers and other construction teams to make sure they complete projects on time.

Related: How to Write an Entry-Level Construction Resume in 6 Steps

6. Budgeting and cost control

A foreman's responsible for managing the budget for a group, area or entire project. They may prepare budgets for upcoming projects, monitor costs as the project progresses and suggest ways to save money throughout their responsibilities. For example, a construction foreman may manage budgets for future projects so that they don't exceed the budgeted amount too quickly.

7. Legal compliance

Foremen often know or follow codes or regulations so that they can ensure their department's compliance with laws, rules and regulations. For example, a foreman may ensure that a construction project complies with local zoning laws and building codes. They may also ensure that contracted team members know their jobs and work safely according to company policies, laws and regulations.

8. Safety

Foremen are responsible for assuring the safety of all of their team members. They may be in charge of hiring skilled people, assigning them to certain projects and training them to perform their jobs accurately and efficiently. A foreman may also keep up with safety guidelines which include maintaining a safe working environment through proper equipment, chemicals and procedures.

9. Conflict resolution

A foreman can use conflict resolution skills if they witness disputes between members from different departments, teams or work areas about who's responsible for getting each job site completed in time and on budget. For example, a foreman may mediate between two construction teams if both claim that the other team's responsible for completing a portion of the work. They may also help solve conflicts between customers and their teams.

Related: 36 Frequently Asked Site Supervisor Interview Questions

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