fbpx

How To Become A Contractor in 2021

October 4, 2021 | Staff Writers

Degree Finder
BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

The construction industry accounts for millions of jobs annually and provides a safe hub for individuals who want to own private businesses in the booming sector. If you have ever built or renovated a house, you are probably familiar with the role of contractors. Contractors supervise and coordinate construction activities such as designing, planning, and building residential homes or commercial properties. Additionally, they are responsible for all budgeting processes, including budgeting for labor and materials. As a contractor, you can either work independently or as part of a construction company. 

Contractors play a vital role in the construction industry as their decisions impact construction safety. They also ensure that construction projects are completed on schedule and budget. Contractors secure proper permits, materials, and workforce. With this, contractors must have adequate training to ensure they possess the appropriate knowledge and skills to oversee the construction activities. There are several types of contractors, with general contractors, construction constructors, and electrical contractors being the most company types, as they are nearly involved in every construction activity. Before beginning practice, each contractor must obtain a contractor’s license. Having the contractor license demonstrates that a general contractor has met all the licensed contractors’ educational and work experience requirements. 

To join the ranks of successful contractors, it is vital to acquaint yourself with various aspects of contractors, including who they are, how to become a contractor, and the requirements of becoming a licensed contractor. This post explores all these aspects, including: 

  1. Steps to becoming a contractor 
  2. Contractor career and training resources 
  3. Contractor degree and programs 
  4. Contractor licensing requirements by state

Steps to Becoming a Contractor

Today, there are different types of contractor jobs available in the construction industry, each having its unique benefits and setbacks. The contractor career is one of the occupations in the construction industry with a promising career outlook. However, if you want to unlock several career opportunities in the construction industry, you should pursue a career as a general contractor. General contractors are the most common types of contractors mainly due to their job flexibility and earning potential. Are you considering becoming a contractor but don’t know where to start? Well, we got you covered. This page explores various aspects of becoming a contractor, including becoming a contractor and the roles of general contractors. 

How Do You Start to Become a Contractor?

To become a contractor, you must fulfill specific educational and licensing requirements. You are probably wondering what these educational and licensing requirements are. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to become a contractor:

  • Get Experience: Interestingly, a contractor career can begin in the early stages of high school education. You might consider small jobs like repairing roofs with minor damages and mending fences. As small as it might look, these activities prepare you for future contractor roles.  You might enroll in high school courses related to the field of construction. 
  • Enroll in Higher Education Program: Several construction certificates and degree programs equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to become general managers. The undergraduate degree programs teach students various general contractors’ roles, such as sourcing for building materials, construction budgeting, and securing appropriate permits. 
  • Seek Hands-On Experience: Although degree programs teach students the foundational aspects of construction, there is a need to gain the hands-on experience needed to enter the construction field. Aspiring general constructors should seek on-job training from various construction companies. You might also gain experience by working as apprentices or assistants to professional contractors. 
  • Obtain Licensing Requirements: Most states require general contractors to have licenses for specific projects such as high-cost residential or commercial works. Consider looking into the state licensing boards to gain in-depth knowledge on licensing requirements. 
  • Continuing Education: Construction tools and technology are constantly changing. It is essential to continue learning to keep up-to-date with the latest technology trends. 

Where Can You Learn More About Becoming a Contractor?

To learn more about becoming a contractor, you need to be an enthusiastic person ready to do all it takes to learn about the contracting profession. Learning about becoming a contractor needs through research, including looking into websites, construction industry journals, among others. Here are some of the places you can learn more about becoming a contractor:

  • Attending Career Fairs: A career fair, also known as a career expo, is organized by recruiters and employers to meet potential job seekers. The career expos offer job seekers and aspiring general contractors to meet and network with seasoned contractors. They also get the chance to learn more about the contractor career and the most effective path to becoming a contractor. 
  • Social Media: Most construction companies have social media platforms in Facebook and Twitter to educate aspiring contractors on the requirements to become a contractor. Additionally, they also post informational blogs that help aspiring professionals to keep abreast with the current trends in the construction industry. 
  • Internet Websites: Various websites inform prospective general contractors on the learning path to becoming a contractor. Some of these websites are run and managed by professional contractor groups and associations. In contrast, others are managed by public career organizations such as learn to become and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

What Is a General Contractor and What Do They Do?

A general contractor is a licensed contractor who oversees and manages all the activities of a construction project. Hence, they are actively involved in construction management. They collaborate with subcontractors to perform various tasks such as wire installation and the suitable phases of the project. General contractors ensure quality and compliance by securing building permits and filing them under the business name. This makes them liable for any eventuality, thus protecting the clients from liabilities. The contractors also provide career worker’s compensation. The general contractor sources materials, workforce and are also involved in planning and budgeting processes. 

Contractor Career and Training Resources

Contractors employ a combination of construction management knowledge, skills, and expertise to accomplish tasks. The construction knowledge is mainly earned through college degree programs, while skills and experience are acquired and developed through training. Like most professions in the construction industry, contractors need to be highly experienced to become successful. Being experienced means having the proper knowledge and skills required to manage and coordinate construction activities. It also involves having the right network of subcontractors and other professionals. If you are considering gaining contractor experience, then you are in the right place. This post explores the various ways of getting contractor experience, their career path, and how they get paid. 

How Do You Get Contractor Experience?

Contractors heavily rely on their experience in the construction industry to meet the contractor’s license requirements and become successful. Most states require contractors to have at least three years of experience in a construction-related occupation to gain a practicing license. But how do you get contractor experience? Here are some of the ways of getting hands-on experience as a contractor: 

  • Completing Internship Programs: Most colleges require students to complete internship programs before their graduation. Most construction companies offer internship programs to aspiring contractors to gain hands-on experience in construction management. The programs are usually shorter and typically take three to six months to complete. 
  • Apprenticeships: Apprenticeships are the most common way of gaining contractor experience. Unlike internship programs, apprenticeships usually take longer, ranging from one to three years. Through the program, you gain contractor experience by working closely with a seasoned contractor. Working with a seasoned contractor also enables you to learn and develop the necessary skills to become a professional.  You get to familiarize yourself with the construction field. 
  • On-The-Job Training: OJT is a type of training given to an employee while engaged in productive work. To gain work experience, you might opt to apply for entry-level positions such as an assistant contractor. While working in the company, you will be able to gain knowledge and learn skills essential to the full performance of a contractor job. 
  • Continuing Education: Continuing education helps seasoned contractors gain proficient knowledge of the construction industry’s current trends. They get experience on how to handle new construction tools and technologies. Contractors might also enroll in trade schools to gain experience in construction. 

What Are the Jobs of a Contractor?

In the construction industry, a contractor is an individual or organization hired to carry out various tasks needed to complete a project. However, contractors usually don’t have the skilled trades to complete a construction project. Hence, they always source and appoint subcontractors to various parts of the project, making it their most important mission. The other duties performed by contractors include:

  • Site surveying 
  • Securing construction permits 
  • Ensuring the security of on-site properties 
  • Providing facilities on site 
  • Managing workforce 
  • Managing materials 
  • Developing budgets 
  • Keeping financial records 
  • Advising clients 
  • Monitoring the activities of the project to ensure they are on schedule

How Do Contractors Get Paid?

One of the critical aspects of construction management is ensuring you get paid. This helps you meet your financial obligations, such as paying your workforces, purchasing materials, and paying subcontractors for their services. Contractors are paid in different ways depending on their contractual agreement with their clients. For instance, some contractors get paid on an hourly basis. This means that they will only be paid for the number of hours spent on the project. Others get paid for the work done, meaning they will be compensated upon completion of the tasks. They have to submit invoices that must be approved and processed by the client. 

Contractor Degrees and Programs

Traditionally, individuals working in the construction industry began their careers in trades, such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, or masonry. Others started their profession as construction laborers. During that period, advancing your career largely depended on your years of experience. Those with several years of experience in construction management rose to the ranks of contractors. However, the construction industry has significantly evolved. The requirements needed to become a contractor or a related career in the construction industry have become more complex. Today, you must meet specific education standards, preferably a construction management degree, to succeed in the construction industry. This article explores the type of degrees and programs needed to become contractors and the types of jobs aligned to construction management degrees. 

What Types of Construction Degrees Are Available?

Before considering pursuing a career as a contractor, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the learning path to becoming a contractor.  You need to know the right degrees and programs that will inevitably land you your dream career. This post explores the various types of construction degrees that will unlock several career openings for contractors. The degree types range from undergraduate degrees to advanced graduate degrees. Keep reading! 

  • Contractor Certificate Programs 

Community colleges and technical colleges offer certificate programs. They typically take one year or less to complete. The certificate programs teach students foundational aspects of construction management. Additionally, the construction management programs equip students with the necessary skills to enroll in a degree program. Some of the courses undertaken in these programs include construction management, building systems, safety planning, cost estimating, construction engineering technology, and more. The certificate programs are suitable for individuals seeking to apply for entry-level positions in the construction industry. 

  • Associate Contractor Degree

The most common associate contractor degree is the associate-level construction management program. The associate’s programs train and prepare students for bachelor’s degree programs. The degree typically takes two years to complete, making it suitable for those seeking to make a quick entry into the construction management field. The degree type is offered by more than 50 learning institutions around the country. With the right work experience, a contractor with an associate degree is likely to become a construction manager for smaller projects with lower earning potential. Although the degree is enough to enter the construction field, you might need to advance your education by earning a bachelor’s degree to fill various leadership positions needed to manage and coordinate large projects. 

  • Bachelor Degree Programs 

Bachelor’s degree programs are the most common degree programs pursued by individuals seeking to become contractors. The program requires four years of study. A bachelor’s degree program equips students with the comprehensive knowledge and skills needed to oversee project activities and lead others. The degree program covers construction management, the construction industry business environment, and emerging technologies. Aspiring contractors learn and develop vital skills needed to assume leadership positions in construction projects, such as management and communication. 

Suppose you want to succeed in the construction field. In that case, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree, as most clients and employers are making the degree the baseline requirement for administrative positions. The bachelor’s degree program also prepares you to sit for your contractor licensing exams. There are various bachelor’s degree programs that you might pursue to enter the construction field. 

  • Master’s Degree and Ph.D. Programs 

A few universities offer master’s degrees and Ph.D. programs in construction management. The programs are suitable for professionals seeking to advance their knowledge in construction management. Under the programs, you get the opportunity to specialize in various focus areas. These courses can be quite expensive, especially when you lack proper financial aid. The graduate programs unlock a world of new opportunities, especially managerial positions in consulting firms, government entities, and construction firms. 

What Do Contractors Major in? 

To increase your career prospects as a contractor, one needs to major in various fields. Majoring in a specific not only increases your earning potential but also leads to job satisfaction and security. But what majors should every aspiring contractor consider when pursuing their bachelor’s degree program? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, contractors should consider the following majors to broaden their career prospects: 

  • Construction Management: Professionals with construction management majors have a promising career outlook as BLS projects the professional field to grow by 11% in the coming years. Construction management major teaches students the fundamental aspects of construction management.  It equips students with the skills needed to lead others and manage construction projects on a site. 
  • Civil Engineering: Civil engineering majors teach students on engineering practices such as designing and developing various infrastructure. With a civil engineering major, you will likely fit in any profession in the construction industry, especially in administrative positions.  Contractors with civil engineering majors have broader career prospects than other professionals. 

Other significant majors include: 

  • Electrical engineering 
  • Building Construction 
  • Quantity surveying 
  • Building science 
  • Construction science 

What Types of Jobs Can You Expect with A Construction Manager Degree?

There are currently several career paths in construction that an individual might pursue after completing their construction management degree. The career paths range from entry-level careers to advanced positions in construction management. Occupations related to construction management are diversified, leading to a variety of career choices. Before choosing any of the career options, ensure the career aligns with your interests and professional goals. Are you looking for a career option you might pursue with a construction management degree? Well, here are some of the common career paths that might interest you: 

  • Site engineer 
  • Facilities manager 
  • Building surveyor 
  • Construction project manager 
  • Cost estimators 
  • Construction inspector 
  • Health and safety engineers 
  • Construction administrators 

Contractor Licensing Requirements by State

Although contractor credentials are always voluntary, some states require contractors to obtain specific credentials before beginning their practice. The certifications earned by contractors primarily depend on the type of work they perform. Therefore, before committing a given construction management work, ensure you obtain the proper credentials such as licensure and certifications needed to accomplish that project. General contractors make sure that the client’s project runs smoothly. They must also ensure they provide the best quality of work. 

To achieve this, they will need to secure all the paperwork required to start and complete the project and meet the contractor’s license requirements for their state. Each state has variable specifications for licensing. It’s vital to thoroughly research everything you need before applying for your state license. This page provides detailed information on the states requiring contractors’ licenses, types of licensing exams required, and the difference between a licensed contractor and a general contractor. 

What States Require a Contractor’s License?

Not all states require a contractor’s license. Therefore, before embarking on any construction management project within a given state, research determines the state license requirement. This seems tedious, so we have made the process easier for you by outlining a few states that require a contractor’s license. The states include: 

  • Alabama: General contractors must obtain a contractor’s state license to work in any repair, construction, maintenance, demolition, or alteration project that costs more than $50 000.  The state board requires you to obtain a contractor’s license for residential projects costing over $10,000. To get a state license, candidates must pass a business, law, and trade exam. 
  • Arkansas: Contractors working in Arkansas must have a contractor’s license to do any construction job worth more than $2,000. The classification of contractors licenses includes commercial license, residential builders license, restricted commercial license, etc. 
  • California: All general contractors must obtain a contractor’s license from the California Contractors State License Board. The state licenses are in three types: class A, B, C. Class A is for specialized engineering works, while class B is for managing projects with two or more trades. Class C license is for specialty contractors. 
  • Georgia: In Georgia, you’ll need to obtain a contractor license for projects worth $2.500 and above. There are four main types of state licenses for contractors in Georgia. They include general contractor, residential-light commercial contractor, residential-basic contractor, and general contractor-limited tier. Each tier has its specifications. 
  • Louisiana: You must have a contractor’s state license to work in Louisiana. The licenses are provided and administered by the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors. Some of the state licenses offered include residential contractors, commercial contractors, and mold remediation licenses. 
  • Texas: In Texas, there are local licensing requirements in some cities. Please note that there is no state-level licensing requirement. Before applying for a local contractor’s license, ensure you first figure out the category you will be working under to obtain a contractor’s license specific to that category. 

What Contractor License Exams Are Required?

To become a licensed contractor, one must undertake and pass a contractor license exam. The license exam tests aspiring contractors on construction management and those specific to their area of specialization. The contractor license exam required by most states includes business and law and trade exams. Let’s explore the exams in detail. 

  • Business and Law 

Most states require all contractors to take the business and law examination to get their practicing license. The business and law exam is always an open book examination that tests the applicants’ knowledge of the business environment and the construction industry laws. 

  • Trade Exams 

Trade exams are classified into different categories. An applicant is only allowed to take a trade exam that is specific to their specialty. For instance, a residential contractor will be required to undertake the residential essential contractor examination or the residential light commercial contractor exam. Trade exams are meant explicitly for specialty contractors. 

What Is the Difference Between a General Contractor and A Licensed Contractor?

Although general contractors and licensed contractors might have the same job description, the two professions vary in several aspects. A general contractor is a professional that manages and oversees all the activities undertaken in a construction site. They are involved in getting the required materials and workforce, securing work permits, leading and supervising others, and coordinating all the activities to ensure the project progresses as planned. 

Despite having a higher earning potential, general contractors lack the knowledge and skills to accomplish the various tasks. The source and appoint subcontractors who are knowledgeable in specific activities of the project. On the other hand, licensed contractors are professionals licensed by the state to perform specific construction works. To gain licensure, they must have active contractor requirements such as proper education and verifiable experience in their focus area. Licensed contractors include electrical contractors, building contractors, plumbers, among others. 

In Summary 

The construction industry is one of the rapidly growing industries as it employs several professionals.  The sector provides entrepreneurs with a safe environment to own and run their businesses. One of the most promising careers in the construction industry is the contractor profession. Contractors are construction management who manage all the operations of a construction project. A contractor can either be an individual or a business entity. They act on behalf of their clients to manage and complete various tasks. If you have at some point contracted a professional to repair, build, or demolish a building, then you must have come across a contractor. 

Contractors ensure projects are complete according to budget and schedule.  They provide projects that are of high quality and safe for humans. Therefore, they must fulfill certain education and training requirements before beginning practicing. Also, they must meet the state licensing requirements for each state they intend to practice in. Most clients and employers prefer contractors with at least a bachelor’s and not less than three years of work experience. Fulfilling the requirements enables you to enter the construction management profession and gain state licenses for contractors. A contractor seeking to specialize in particular fields should get specialty contractor licenses. 

Take the next step towards your future by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in construction management!

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

Degree Finder
BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Scroll to Top