A career in general contracting is diverse, exciting, and fulfilling. It gives you an opportunity to be creative while earning money by helping people.
To become a general contractor, you need to take several important steps. Keep in mind that just like any other high-paying career choice, this one requires substantial learning. Meanwhile, experience and licensing have a direct effect on your salary.
1. Choose the Type of Contracting Career
Not all contractors are created equal. To begin your journey toward a career in contracting, you need to figure out what type of contractor you want to become. The common types include:
- General contractor – a specialist who performs reconstruction work on residential homes and commercial property. They also handle remodeling and renovation projects. General contractors don’t do the actual work. They coordinate the work process and ensure its quality and the agreed-upon timeline.
- Specialty contractor – these contractors perform specialty work, which is usually part of a larger project. This may include paving work, electrical work, and more. General contractors can hire specialty contractors to work on their projects.
- Mechanical contractor – these specialists take care of projects that require a license. This includes plumbing and heating. Contractor licenses usually cover mechanical work but not the installation process.
While general contractors receive higher salaries than specialty and mechanical contractors, you may need to gain experience as one of these contractors to proceed to learn how the industry works.
2. Research Educational Requirements
To become a general contractor, you need to get specific education. If you are just starting out, a high school diploma may be sufficient. However, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees can push you up the career ladder quicker.
Your value on the market goes up with each degree you earn. You can start working as a contractor and get a degree while you are gaining experience. While you are studying, you can take advantage of apprenticeships.
According to tenant build-outs experts from AFS General, for a general contractor, experience and reputation are just as important as education.
Important: In some states, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for general contractors.
3. Gain Experience
While education matters to your employer, experience is the first factor clients consider when choosing a general contractor. Meanwhile, to get a contractor’s license, you need to meet a certain experience minimum.
The amount of experience you need for a license varies from state to state. Generally, you have to spend at least three years in construction or apprenticeship to receive a license.
The more you work in the industry, the easier it will be to find clients. Many property owners are willing to pay more to contractors with experience. However, you have to be ready for the competition. The US construction industry currently has over 700,000 employers with over 7 million employees.
4. Find Training Opportunities
Even if you already have sufficient experience and proper education, you may still need training. To find out what kind of training you need to get a license, contact your state’s contractor license board.
For example, in Florida, the board requires you to pass the state construction examination. To pass the exam, you may need contractor training. You would also need to be up to speed with current building codes and contracting laws. Business owners would also need to obtain liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
Take the time to study your state requirements for becoming a contractor. They usually differ for self-employed contractors and business owners.
5. Get Up to Speed with Business Management
If you are planning to start a general contracting business, you need to learn the nuances of business management. You could start as a self-employed contractor and go from there. However, starting a company and hiring employees could bring you higher revenue.
A career in general contracting is an excellent choice for people who want to get involved in construction. To become a general contractor, you need to get the right education, gain experience, receive training, obtain proper licenses, and much more. Experienced contractors with a stellar reputation can expect a high revenue.