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What Do You Need to Get Started as a General Contractor?

What Do You Need to Get Started as a General Contractor?

A general contractor’s job is that of managing all aspects related to a construction project, ranging from planning to completion. However, that does not mean you need to be a civil engineer or an architect to become a general contractor. Having a degree like that can certainly help, but it is not a requirement for the job here. So, what do you need to get started as a general contractor in the construction business? Let’s find out.

A Few Years of Experience in Construction

Do note that having anything from 5 – 7 years of experience is usually a requirement to join an accredited construction management course. In some jurisdictions, a similar experience range will be expected from anyone who applies for a general contractor’s license as well.

Don’t worry though, because experience in construction simply means that you must have a history of working within the construction industry in some capacity. You don’t necessarily need to have years of experience as a general contractor to become a construction manager!

Construction Management Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies the occupation of a general contractor and a construction manager as one and the same, which makes perfect sense, given construction management is exactly what general contractors do. A construction management degree is not a qualification you will need in order to be eligible for a general contractor’s license, but it will help you in more ways than one.

Not only will a construction management degree help you gain the knowledge, education, training, skills, and contacts necessary to get started in the business, but it will also add more credibility to your resume. If you have experience with contracting already, the certification will only serve to fill in any knowledge gaps that you may have and further galvanize your position as a reputable general contractor. Also, clients usually look for adequately experienced and qualified contractors when there’s a lot of money at stake.

License and Registration

As of now, you can take the following steps to find out all that you need to know about a jurisdiction’s registration and licensing requirements for general contractors.

  • Confirm the project’s exact location by city or county, and not just the state.
  • Visit the concerned county or city’s government website to know what their policies are regarding general contractor registration and licensing.
  • If there is a requirement for contractors to hold a license and registration, there will be registration links on the site itself.
  • Some jurisdictions allow contractors to work without a license, but only on low-budget projects.
  • The definition of low budget varies depending on the jurisdiction, as the maximum limit can be anything from $2,500 – $50,000.
  • Registration will generally involve filling up a form, paying the application fee, and submitting the documents as required.
  • Licensing will usually require the applicant to appear for an exam and pass.

Not all states make it necessary for their general contractors to be registered and licensed as such, but a lot of them do. In all likelihood, this is going to become a requirement across all US states in the near future. You can also visit the city/county office directly to ask for information about contracting license requirements.