Becoming a Licensed Contractor: The Steps, the Requirements, and More

Many home improvement projects can be done by homeowners themselves. But for bigger projects like a kitchen upgrade or a remodel for the master bedroom, the best call is to have a contractor involved. 

Contractors have an important and diverse job in construction projects. Not only do they contribute to the layout, design, plumbing, insulation, and more, they are also involved in people management, permits, and ensuring that everything built is up to local and/or standards.

To become a general contractor, you should learn as much as you can about the job, especially its scope of responsibility. You should also know the requirements to get the license to be one too. Here are some things you should know before you start your career as a general contractor:

What Is a General Contractor? 

A contractor is a person who oversees construction projects. Be it a remodeling project of a mom-and-pop diner or building a new house for a family, the contractor manages the ins and outs of a construction project. A contractor usually works closely with the architect and the owner of the project. However, these days it’s common to see contractors take part in the design process too. Contractors are also in charge of things like obtaining the necessary permits, recruitment, and so forth. 

What Do They Do?

As discussed, general contractors are in charge of overseeing everything that goes on construction sites. Other professionals on the job that are in charge of installing roofing parts, sidings, and other parts must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s the contractor’s job to see to it that everything is done correctly. If a worker is injured on the job or your property is accidentally damaged, the contractor will take care of it.

In other words, if something goes wrong, the general contractor is responsible for paying for the repairs. Since general contractors are in charge of the entire job site, they assist with worker insurance too.  In addition to this, general contractors are in charge of securing the tools needed for the project.

Becoming a Licensed General Contractor

Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Some states require more requirements than others. But even then, no matter which state a person is in, they must qualify for and pass the general contractor licensure exam to be licensed.

A person must be at least 18 years old and be able to legally work in the country. These are the most basic requirements. Here are the other requirements to become and be qualified for a license. 

Get a Degree

Although general contractors can obtain a license with only a high school diploma, many have a degree that’s relevant to the field. Civil engineering, construction technology, site planning, and other related fields are some examples. Getting a degree is particularly useful in understanding various building processes such as how to prepare a site, understand architectural and design drawings, and identify permits and other formalities are required to complete a project.  

Build Contractor Skills

Those with only a high school diploma shouldn’t be concerned though since practical experience weighs a great deal in becoming a general contractor. With professional experience, a person can proceed with taking the licensure exam. 

Many spend years working before they take their licensure exam in order to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to do different parts of a construction project. Having working experience is a great advantage as it gives a person the intimate knowledge of each function in a project, estimated time of completion, work delegation, people management, which materials are best used, etc.

Obtain a License

Depending on state and local municipal standards, documents, IDs, and other requirements may vary. But generally, they seek proof of construction-related academic credentials and work experience. As mentioned above, a high school diploma is enough as long as you also acquire some professional experience working in construction projects. However, you can take a B100 course to help refresh your knowledge before taking the exam. 

Secure Certification 

Do your research and look up national organizations for contractors that offer certification programs. Two renowned national organizations are the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), and the American Institute of Constructors (AIC). Although this isn’t a requirement, it’s a great comfort to future clients seeing that your services as a contractor are certified. A certificate entails that a contractor follows the standards of quality and safety in their work. However, to secure certification, one needs to pass a separate set of requirements as obliged by the organization.

It’s safe to say that being a general contractor means wearing different hats for every project. But that’s only natural especially since a contractor’s job is to manage a project. An effective contractor knows the ins and outs of the construction site, and that’s important. But it’s more comforting for the client knowing that a contractor has a license to back up their expertise.

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