If you love home improvement and you’re looking for a new career, you may want to consider becoming a general contractor. This is a respected profession that is practiced by thousands of people across the country.
A contractor plays an important role at any major construction site. They manage and oversee projects and communicate between clients, vendors, and construction workers. They make sure a job gets done on-time and on-budget.
If you enjoy home improvement, you might be a perfect fit for this type of job. However, there are certain steps you’ll have to take before you get there. We’ve put together a general overview of the process for you. We’ll take you through it step-by-step so that you understand what it takes to become a contractor.
What Benefits Can You Expect?
While you are deciding if this career move is right for you, take the time to learn what you might get out of it. This particular profession has a lot to offer if you’re good at what you do. Some of the benefits include:
- Pay– As a general contractor, you are responsible for a lot of different people on the job. Because of this high level of responsibility, you’d have the pay to match it. Depending on what types of projects you head, you can make anywhere from 80,000 to 90,000 dollars a year or more.
- Travel- As a contractor, you will also have the opportunity to travel. Because most certifications are issued by the state, you may have to remain in the state. But that still allows you to take on projects in other cities. If you like to travel and see different cities, this is a great perk.
- Connections- While you work on different projects, you will gain valuable connections. You are an important point of contact for everyone working on a construction site. People you work with will remember you and may contact you about future opportunities. You will be able to build a steady network. As you complete jobs, remember to make a good impression. That will determine whether or not you are hired back for future job opportunities.
- Flexibility- Another benefit of becoming a general contractor is the flexibility it offers you. Most of the time, you have the power to choose which projects you want to work on and which ones you’d prefer to decline. It’s also easier to work projects around other events in your life.
- Opportunity to Be Your Own Boss- Depending on how you structure your career, you can be your own boss. You don’t have to answer to anyone else unless you work for a larger company. But if you decide to work as a freelancer or start your own company, you can shape your business into whatever you want. You may have to study up on rules and regulations regarding business ownership and management, but the rewards are worth it.
In some places, you may be able to get into contract work with only a high school diploma. To do this, you have to be extremely focused and skilled from the beginning. However, it is becoming more common to see professionals with a college education as the standard. If you are starting a degree with the intention of becoming a full-time contractor one day, some popular subjects to study include:
- Building/construction science
- Construction management
- Construction engineering
When you pursue post-secondary education in a construction-focused field, you will gain valuable insight and hands-on experience. Some of the skills you are likely to build include:
- Handling ethics
- Project management
- Dealing with contracts
Working as a contractor takes more than just a solid understanding of the construction process, which is why classes like these are so important. To be successful in this job, you need to be good at working with people.
You don’t have to be a bubbly people person, but you do need to know how to manage employees and see the bigger picture. If you have experience working with others in previous jobs, those skills can be easily transferred. At the end of the day, completing a project successfully is all about cooperation.
Another type of path that people choose on the road to becoming a general contractor is the internship/apprenticeship path. While you are in school, or even after graduation, you can complete an internship or apprenticeship with an established company. Try to find a program that pays a decent wage. Some companies try to underpay their interns, or they don’t pay them at all. You may also have the chance to work part-time somewhere in exchange for class credit.
Training and Experience
In addition to the valuable training you’ll receive as a part of a degree program, you should also build up your real-life experience. Most clients prefer to hire someone with a few years of experience in the industry unless you’re a friend. If you are hired to work for a large company, you may have additional company-specific training to complete as well. If you have the opportunity to do an internship or hands on course while in school, take it.
Certifications and Licensing
Once you finish your training and education, make sure that you have all the licenses and certifications that you need. Some states require you to be licensed if you want to complete certain types of projects, however, this varies from state to state.
For example, if you are looking to get a contractors license in Alabama, you should research the requirements in that particular state. Look for a program that offers a final course and/or exam to take. During your career, it is important that you keep all of your certifications and licenses updated. Following the necessary laws and regulations is important for safety purposes.
Now that you understand the process, you can make your own plan. Once you become a contractor, you can work in a field that you love while making a substantial income.