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General Contractor

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming Licensed

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What is a General Contractor?

A General Contractor is a professional responsible for overseeing and managing construction projects. Project managers are important for finishing construction projects on time, within budget, and meeting quality standards. General Contractors coordinate with various stakeholders, including architects, engineers, subcontractors, and clients, to ensure the smooth execution of construction projects.

General Contractors participate in a wide range of projects, from residential homes to large commercial buildings. They are responsible for hiring and supervising subcontractors, sourcing materials, obtaining necessary permits, and ensuring compliance with building codes and regulations.

Roles and Responsibilities of a General Contractor

The primary responsibilities of a General Contractor include:

  1. Project Planning and Management: Developing project plans, timelines, and budgets. Managing resources to ensure project completion within the set parameters.
  2. Hiring and Supervising Subcontractors: Recruiting skilled subcontractors for specific tasks such as plumbing, electrical work, and masonry. Supervising their work to ensure it meets quality standards.
  3. Sourcing Materials: Procuring the necessary materials for construction, negotiating prices, and ensuring timely delivery to the job site.
  4. Obtaining Permits and Licenses: Ensure that you obtain all required permits and licenses from relevant authorities before commencing construction.
  5. Quality Control and Safety: Implementing quality control measures to ensure the finished project meets all specifications and standards. Ensuring that workers follow safety protocols to prevent accidents and injuries on site.
  6. Communication: Serving as the primary point of contact between clients, subcontractors, and other stakeholders. Providing regular updates on project progress.

How to Become a General Contractor

Becoming a General Contractor involves several steps, including education, gaining experience, and obtaining the necessary licenses and certifications. Here’s a detailed guide on how to become a General Contractor:

Step 1: Obtain Relevant Education

You don’t need a formal degree to become a General Contractor. However, having a background in construction management, civil engineering, or a related field can be beneficial. Many General Contractors have at least a high school diploma, but pursuing higher education can provide a competitive edge.

Recommended Education Paths:

  1. High School Diploma: Focus on subjects such as mathematics, science, and technical drawing.
  2. Associate Degree: Consider an associate degree in construction management or a related field.
  3. Bachelor’s Degree: A bachelor’s degree in construction management, civil engineering, or architecture provides a comprehensive understanding of construction processes and management principles.

Step 2: Gain Construction Experience

Hands-on experience in the construction industry is crucial for aspiring General Contractors. Working in different jobs like construction worker, carpenter, or manager helps develop skills and knowledge in the industry.

Ways to Gain Experience:

  1. Apprenticeships: Participating in apprenticeship programs allows you to learn from experienced professionals while earning a wage.
  2. Starting in entry-level construction jobs gives training and experience in various aspects of construction.
  3. Internships: Interning with construction companies or contractors can provide valuable insights and networking opportunities.

Step 3: Obtain a General Contractor License

Most states require General Contractors to obtain a license before they can legally operate. To get a General Contractor License, you need to meet specific requirements set by each state. These usually involve completing education, gaining experience, and passing a licensing exam. A General Contractor License is a license for contractors who will be building new structures from the ground up.

Steps to Obtain a General Contractor License:

  1. Research State Requirements: Each state has its own licensing requirements. Research the specific requirements for your state. For specific state requirements, the NASCLA website can be a good resource.
  2. Meet Education and Experience Requirements: Ensure you meet the necessary education and experience criteria set by your state.
  3. Pass the Licensing Exam: The exam typically covers topics such as building codes, safety regulations, and construction management principles. Contractor Licensing Pros offers resources for exam preparation.
  4. Submit an Application: Complete the application process, which may include providing proof of education, experience, and passing the exam. Some states also require background checks and proof of insurance.

Step 4: Obtain Certifications

While not always required, obtaining certifications can enhance your credibility and marketability as a General Contractor. Certifications demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and continuous learning.

Popular Certifications:

  1. The Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) offers the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) certification, which is highly regarded in the industry. More information can be found on the CMAA website.
  2. LEED Certification: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification demonstrates expertise in sustainable building practices. Learn more about LEED certification on the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) website.
  3. OSHA Certification: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certifications in construction safety can enhance your knowledge of workplace safety standards. Details on OSHA certifications can be found on the OSHA website.
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Step 5: Build a Strong Network

Networking is essential in the construction industry. Building relationships with other professionals, such as architects, engineers, subcontractors, and suppliers, can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.

Networking Strategies:

  1. Join Professional Associations: Organizations such as the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) offer networking events, educational resources, and industry insights.
  2. Go to industry events like conferences and trade shows to meet professionals and learn about new trends and technologies.
  3. Use social media like LinkedIn to connect with professionals, share your work, and stay updated on industry news.


Step 6: Market Your Services

Effective marketing is crucial for attracting clients and growing your business. To succeed in contracting, it is important to have a strong online presence. This can be achieved by showcasing your work and asking satisfied customers for referrals. These steps can help you build credibility and attract more clients.

Marketing Strategies:

  1. Create a Professional Website: Develop a website that highlights your services, showcases completed projects, and provides client testimonials. Check out tips on creating a professional website for contractors here.
  2. Use Social Media: Utilize social media platforms to share project updates, industry insights, and engage with potential clients.
  3. Networking: Attend local business events, join chambers of commerce, and connect with real estate agents to expand your network.
  4. Referral Programs: Encourage satisfied clients to refer your services to others by offering incentives or discounts.

General Contractor Salary and Job Outlook

A General Contractor’s salary varies based on location, experience, and project size. The salary of a General Contractor can be affected by the place they work in. It can also be influenced by the amount of experience they have. Additionally, the size of their projects plays a role in determining their salary.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for construction managers, which includes General Contractors, was $97,180 as of May 2021. Experienced General Contractors managing large-scale projects can earn significantly more.

Factors Influencing Salary

  1. Location: General Contractors in urban areas or regions with high construction activity typically earn higher salaries.
  2. Experience: Experienced contractors with a proven track record of successful projects command higher fees.
  3. Project Size: Managing larger, more complex projects often results in higher compensation.
  4. Certifications and Education: Additional certifications and advanced degrees can enhance earning potential.

Job Outlook

The construction industry is expected to grow steadily over the next decade, driven by factors such as urbanization, population growth, and the need for infrastructure improvements. The BLS predicts that the number of construction managers will increase by 8% from 2021 to 2031. This growth rate is faster than average.

Become a General Contractor

Becoming a General Contractor is a fulfilling career with chances to grow and move up in construction. To succeed in construction, you need the right education, hands-on experience, a General Contractor License, and a strong professional network.

Getting the right education is important. Gaining hands-on experience is crucial. Obtaining a General Contractor License is necessary. Building a strong professional network is also key.

To start a successful contracting business, you need to acquire the right skills, certifications, and marketing strategies. These will help you in building residential and commercial projects.

This guide will help you become a licensed General Contractor and reach your career goals in construction.

Get Expert Help with Contractor Licensing Pros

Navigating the process of becoming a licensed General Contractor can be complex and time-consuming. That’s where Contractor Licensing Pros comes in. We provide services to help make the licensing process easier for you. Our goal is to make sure you meet all state requirements quickly and efficiently.

Our expert team is here to help you with exam preparation, completing applications, and understanding state regulations. We will guide you through every step.

Contact Contractor Licensing Pros today to start your journey towards becoming a licensed General Contractor. Don’t let the licensing process stop you from achieving your career goals. Visit our website here to learn more about our services and how we can assist you.

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