Group of four contractors in construction site gathering around a blueprint to illustrate the idea "how to become a contractor"
Ali Raza
By: ali_raza
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How to Become a Contractor in the US

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Do you like construction? How about leading a team to fulfill a project that was little more than a piece of paper? If so, you certainly have asked yourself how to become a contractor.

Contractors are trained professionals that have the expertise and ability to manage and coordinate construction projects of varying types, ranging from commercial buildings to residential spaces. They can do it independently or as a part of a construction enterprise.

They hold an important position since every decision they make will have a direct impact on the building structure, soundness, and safety. Crazy, right? That’s why intensive training and preparation is needed to become a contractor.

These professionals are in charge of every aspect of the construction, and because of that, they will have to handle relations with lots of other professionals. They will supervise the design, planning, materials and supplies, labor, workers, and more.

Contractors can be self-employed or be part of a firm. They work with business owners, homeowners, big contracting companies and construction workers.

As a matter of fact, contractors make sure projects are completed successfully on time based on a stipulated budget. Their job extends to securing licenses, materials, permits, and labor. They also work hand in hand with plumbers, engineers, carpenters, architects, and electricians. If this still sounds interesting to you, read how you can become a contractor in the US.

Already in the construction business? Learn here the 6 key steps to grow your construction business.

 

Contractor average salaries and demand across the US

The average wages for contractors across the United States of America, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $46.88 per hour and $97,510 annually based on 53 working weeks and an approximate of 40 hours a week.

Per the same organization, the following states have the highest mean of annual salaries for contractors:

  • New Jersey – $140,000
  • Alaska – $122,250
  • Rhode Island – $120,660
  • Pennsylvania – $115,520
  • New York – $114,330

They are all located in the northern part of the United States, and most of them have dense populations that demand new buildings and maintenance to the existing ones. Those situations result in higher salaries for contractors. Alaska’s high average has more to do with the harsh working conditions due to the climate.

These are the five states with the highest number of employed general contractors:

  • California – Employed: 29,950; Mean Salary: $108,240
  • Texas – Employed: 26,800; Mean Salary: $93,610
  • Florida – Employed: 18,020; Mean Salary: $90,310
  • New York – Employed: 13,900; Mean Salary: $114,330
  • Ohio – Employed: 9,160; Mean Salary: $96,300

 

How to become a contractor in the US

Get experience

As you can imagine, those with the best and longest working experience will be prioritized over the rest. When it comes to contractors, the preparation starts as early as in high school via vocational programs that offer college credits.

Even the smallest and most seemingly insignificant jobs can help you train to become a contractor such as: time management by doing chores at home and accounting by keeping tabs of the house bills.

Consider higher education

Since contractors ought to be required to show licenses and permits to perform their activities in their state, they need to earn the right to do just that. Sometimes, these licenses are granted by county or municipality, but others, they may be given at state level.

These professionals, to earn that title, need to pass one or more licensing tests in several areas, such as construction law, business management, and more. With the latter, they can learn about contracts, bidding, tax and labor requirements, and environmental safety. Other things that may be needed to practice are financial statements, reference letters, and insurance. The whole process can take three or four years. Specifically, a construction management degree take between two to four years. You’ll find the types of construction degree in the sections below.

Seek training

Contractors need training, and there are several ways to obtain it. As we have said, doing stuff at home or the school itself are the most basic forms of training, but an apprenticeship provides a more specialized platform.

Vocational training is available, as are degree programs in construction management, science, or even engineering. Those are offered by colleges and other higher education institutions at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree levels.

The construction management course includes knowledge and training in math, physics, construction materials and methods, surveying, construction plans and measurements, and design.

Another great way to get the training you need in construction is turning to the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). They offer a variety of training programs for people seeking to get certified to do government jobs. These programs vary depending on your location: simply find your nearest MBDA Business Center and ask there.

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Licensing and insurance requirements

Common licenses:

STATE LICENSING AGENCY

 

EXAMINATION
PROVIDER
 Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration ContractorsPSI Services, LLC
Alabama Electrical Contractors BoardProv, Inc.
Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board Prov, Inc.
Alabama Licensing Board for General ContractorsPSI Service, LLC
 Alabama Plumbers & Gas Fitters Examining BoardPSI Services, LLC
Arizona Registrar of ContractorsPSI Services, LLC
 Arkansas Contractors Licensing BoardPrometric
 California Contractors State License BoardCalifornia Contractors State License Board
Colorado State Electrical and Examining Board of Plumbers N/A
 District of Columbia Department of Consumer & Regulatory AffairsPearson Vue
Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation
 Florida Electrical Contractors Licensing Board Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation
 Guam Contractors License Board N/A
Hawaii Contractors License Board  Promet

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 Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses Idaho State Contractors BoardN/A
Louisiana State Licensing Board for ContractorsLouisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
 Louisiana State Plumbing BoardLouisiana State Plumbing Board
 Maryland Home Improvement CommissionPSI Services, LLC
Minnesota Department of Labor & IndustryN/A
 Mississippi State Board of Contractors PSI Services, LLC
Nevada State Contractors BoardPSI Services, LLC
 New Mexico Construction Industries Division PSI Services, LLC
 North Carolina Landscape Contractors’ Licensing Board PSI Services, LLC
 North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors PSI Services, LLC
North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors PSI Services, LLC
 North Carolina Licensing Board for General ContractorsPSI Services, LLC
Ohio Construction Industry Licensing BoardPSI Services, LLC
 Oklahoma Construction Industries BoardPSI Services, LLC
 Oregon Construction Contractors Board PSI Services, LLC
Rhode Island Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board N/A
 South Carolina Contractors Licensing BoardPSI Services, LLC
 South Carolina Residential Builders CommissionPSI Services, LLC
 Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors PSI Services, LLC
 Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation PSI Services, LLC
 Utah Construction Trades Bureau – Division of Occupational and Professional LicensingPSI Services, LLC
 Virgin Islands Board for General Construction Contractors – Department of Licensing and Consumer AffairsPSI Services, LLC
 Virginia Board for Contractors Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation PSI Services, LLC
 Washington Department of Labor and IndustriesPSI Services, LLC
West Virginia Contractors Licensing Board Division of LaborProv, Inc.

 

Do licensing requirements vary per state?

Yes, licensing requirements vary from state to state. Several of them need the contractor to have licenses for specific projects, including commercial, residential, or public works. The standards are not the same in every region.

Learn here all about the licenses you may need for your business.

 

Types of contractor degrees

Contractor Certification

It is a short program, typically up to a year, that teaches students specialized information about the industry. It serves as a preparation for degrees programs that we will explain later. Contractor certifications are available in areas such as construction management, construction engineering technology, building systems, OSHA Outreach, and others.

Associate Contractor Degree

A Construction Management Associate degree is a brilliant choice for aspiring contractors. It takes two years to finish and provides useful tools. The best part is that it can be completed online. Some applied associate degrees offer students the chance to enter the workforce faster.

Contractor Bachelor Degree

Contractors with a bachelor degree will always have an advantage over others who have completed shorter courses. The bachelor degree requires nearly four years to complete but is worth every second. If you want to know how to become a contractor that is widely recognized around the country for the quality of his/her job, then you will find it out with a bachelor degree.

 

Contractor careers with higher demand

Landscape architect

They are practical designers who are trained to create functional, yet visually attractive spaces outdoors. They can work in commercial establishments as well as in residential places, with college campuses and parks being other possibilities. The median wage was a little under $64.000 by 2015.

Green building contractor

They are fully-capable construction managers being tasked with the responsibility to create or restore buildings with reclaimed and sustainable materials, which also need to be environmental-friendly, hence the term “green.”

Building inspector

The building inspector’s job is practically self-explanatory, as you might expect. They supervise and inspect buildings before and after they are constructed, and most importantly, they make sure that it fulfills every permit, code, ordinance, and other possible requirements.

Master carpenter

With a median wage of $42,000 by 2015, master carpenters are capable of building pieces and equipment with raw materials, and they can go both indoors and outdoors. Private companies, homeowners, and construction firms often seek a great master carpenter.

Cost estimators

Cost estimators are masters of economics and the value of raw materials, supplies, labor, and other elements that are vital for a construction project. The mean wage in 2015 was $60,390.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is hugely important that you know everything about how to become a contractor in the United States of America, including regulatory issues by state, median wage per state, and the courses you need to take in order to be considered for a job position, or if you want to embark on a “solo” career.

By just seeing the figures we presented in this post, you can agree that construction is big in the US. It shapes the economy of this country and with some effort and perseverance, you could benefit from its impact too. Don’t forget to stay on top of other trends in business and finances by subscribing to the Camino Financial Newsletter!

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