Do You Need a Degree to be a General Contractor?

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Some of the wealthiest Americans are in the construction industry. The American construction market is valued at over $1,293 billion is one of the largest markets in the world. It is not surprising why many people think that general contracting is a lucrative business.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, contractors earn around $95,260 annually. This annual income is just a slice of their real earnings, considering that they have other potential revenue streams. Contractors can hike up their charges and can take home more earnings. Add to that, they can deduct their expenses and pay less tax.

Overall, general contractors earn more than regular employees. Plus, you’re your boss!

Considering the perks of this profession, many people dream of entering the general contracting industry. You’re probably wondering: how do I become a general contractor? Do you need a certain educational background or experience? What skills and training are required?

Here we take a look at what it takes to be a general contractor.

What exactly does a general contractor do?

General contractors oversee the planning, management, and execution of various construction projects. These projects range from minor home renovations or building repairs to major construction of commercial buildings, homes, public infrastructures, and other structures.

These construction professionals coordinate with all stakeholders, such as property owner/s, architects, designers, engineers, sub-contractors, and suppliers. They hire and supervise employees and independent contractors to help them with various aspects of the business.

General contractors play a vital role in construction projects – and this position entails a major responsibility. To ensure that you can take on such a big responsibility, it pays to have experience in the construction industry.

What are the qualifications of a general contractor?

The qualifications of a general contractor depend on where you intend to practice. Each state has a unique set of requirements. Some require applicants to have a degree, a certain amount of experience and pass an exam to get a license. In jurisdictions that require passing a written examination, prospective contractors need to understand concepts in project management, business management, construction laws, and related theories. Meanwhile, other states just require certain years of experience to register for a license.

In addition to state regulations, there are also local and municipal regulations that require general contractors to register into their database. In some states, licensing is governed by the local city or county governments. Prospective general contractors should check out the US Small Business Administration to know the licenses and permits required for general contractors in their respective jurisdictions.

The requirements may also differ depending on the type of project or contracts you intend to manage. For example, there are major construction projects that require a contractor with an engineering or architecture degree. If you want to manage higher-value projects, you will need to obtain a corresponding license. However, this would require additional experience and testing requirements.

What degrees general contractors take?

Aside from engineering and architecture degrees, coursework in construction management, and project planning and management are also common among general contractors at AFS General Contracting. Advanced degrees in project planning or construction management can help further hone your skills and marketability in the industry. Some contractors have vocational courses coupled with hands-on experience.

Instead of a college degree, some general contractors lean on their years of experience in the construction industry. Some states require a minimum of three years in a construction-related position. What counts as experience is full-time positions or apprenticeship under the guidance of a licensed contractor or the employ of a general contracting company. The job description must show that you’ve earned proficiency in construction management. You might also need to provide letters of reference, financial statements, and insurance coverage to get a license.

What are the skill sets of a general contractor?

To become a successful general contractor, you need an array of skills. Firstly, you need an in-depth knowledge of various construction concepts, practices, and technologies. Management, leadership, communication, time-management, budgeting, and critical thinking skills are all important. People with innate management and leadership skills are best suited for this position.

General contractors need business management skills to maintain operations and keep the business competitive. You’ll also need basic knowledge of state and local building regulations. Connections within the local construction industry will also prove useful, especially among suppliers and sub-contractors. With your connections, you can find the best providers for the best price.

The construction industry is a pillar of the American economy and is expected to grow in the coming years. Alongside the economic growth of the country is the increasing demand for more construction managers. If you are keen on starting a career in the construction industry, now is a great time to start. There are a lot of opportunities that await you.