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What does a Superintendent do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 16, 2024
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A superintendent is an executive who manages a school district, construction company, or apartment building, among other settings and organizations. Depending on the location and job setting, a superintendent may be responsible for a number of different tasks. Most professionals make decisions regarding policies, procedures, finances, human resources, and other important matters. They identify and solve problems, set budgets, and adhere to applicable laws.

A school superintendent oversees the organization and analyzes the achievements of an entire school district. He or she usually works with a board of directors to set district policies and investigate their effectiveness. When a professional identifies a lack of funding or a need for qualified teachers, he or she might contact state or country officials, advertise job openings, or organize fundraising activities. School superintendents are usually very involved in setting academic goals and creating curricula for every grade level.

Individuals who supervise and direct work on a construction site are often given the title of superintendent. Construction superintendents direct laborers, make sure blueprints, building codes, and safety laws are followed, and inspect finished jobs. They are frequently placed in charge of obtaining materials, creating schedules, setting and paying wages, and keeping careful records of expenditures.

The superintendent of an apartment building or residential community is generally responsible for ensuring that the property is kept clean and safe. Residents usually contact the superintendent when minor repairs are needed in their units. He or she must be skilled at troubleshooting and repairing various appliances, fixtures, and structural elements of a building to meet the needs of residents. A professional may also be placed in charge of maintaining the security and appearance of buildings, landscaping, and cleaning units after tenants move out.

There are many types of superintendents who assume managerial duties in other settings. Many public parks, golf courses, and communities hire superintendents to ensure the upkeep of property and facilities. Many countries, including Great Britain, designate police superintendents to manage local departments and communicate with higher officials. Other professionals may work in government agencies, military offices, political organizations, or large corporations.

An individual who wants to become a superintendent in most industries or organizations must obtain a college degree from an accredited university. Most school superintendents hold master's degrees or higher in education or school administration. Professionals at construction companies are often required to have engineering, project management, or business credentials, while building superintendents usually need property management degrees or vocational training. Regardless of the work setting, professionals must be strong communicators, rational thinkers, and problem solvers.

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Discussion Comments
By summing — On Jun 26, 2012

I worked as a field superintendent for a pipe line company. We built pipe lines mostly in Canada and I was onsite to make sure that codes were being met, budgets followed and the standard of work was up to par.

It was not an easy job but I was well compensated. You have to be conscious of a lot of things at once and adopt a macro perspective that no one else is really responsible for. But the work was rewarding and we built a lot of successful lines.

By chivebasil — On Jun 25, 2012

My apartment building has a superintendent but he is terrible at his job. I have called him in to do repairs on a few occasions and he is slow to respond and then does shoddy work. He seems to think that you can fix anything with spit and duct tape.

What I don't understand is why he doesn't care more about the state of the building. The worse it gets the bigger the problems get and the more work he will have down the road. It just doesn't make sense to me when people want to be bad at their jobs.

By tigers88 — On Jun 24, 2012

Some people might roll their eyes thinking that a superintendent is just another link in a long and overly complicated bureaucratic chain but it really is an important job. Oversight is important in all industries. Without coordination and accountability any system will fall into inefficiency and maybe even chaos.

Take a public school system for example. If all the schools and all of their principals are operating according to their own standards and direction the quality of education across a district will vary wildly. This does a huge disservice to the kids. The role of the superintendent is to make sure that all parties are moving in the same direction

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