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How to Become a General Contractor

Posted by Bold Support on

Acquiring a general contractor’s license qualifies you to take the leap from small-scale handyman work to large-scale construction projects like homes, commercial buildings, roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Fortunately, obtaining your contractor’s license is a relatively simple process that you can approach in several different ways. While a college degree is not required, there are certain skills and a level of experience you must have to be a successful contractor.

Required skills

Like any job, a general contracting job requires a special set of skills. These include:

  • Leadership:

    A general contractor, also called a construction manager, is in charge of projects from start to finish. To take on this type of supervisory role, you need to have exceptional leadership skills. You’ll need to be able to assemble a team, make decisions, coordinate with homeowners and designers, and make sure everyone on the team is doing their job correctly.

  • Communication:

    The ability to effectively communicate with clients, designers, and subcontractors is crucial. You cannot live in your own little bubble when you’re a contractor because your job revolves around building what someone else wants. This means holding regular construction meetings to ensure that your team is on the right track and your client is happy. Good intrapersonal skills are what helps you build a good reputation and gets you more work in the future.

  • Time management:

    You must be able to meet deadlines, set schedules, and pace your work accordingly. Understand that delays are likely inevitable and be able to stay ahead of the goals you’ve set for yourself.

  • Creativity:

    You don’t have to be an artist, but a good contractor should be able to think creatively to solve problems that arise on the job. If there’s a flaw in the design or a problem renting the equipment, you’ll be expected to come up with a workaround.

Required education and experience

Not just anyone with leadership and communication skills can become a general contractor – you have to actually know a thing or two about construction. When it comes to experience, you have two options.

The first is education. If you have the opportunity to do so, you could obtain a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as civil engineering, architecture, or construction management. While it’s nice to have and may help you get a job, a college degree isn’t necessary to become a general contractor.

Even without a college education, you can still qualify for your state’s licensing exam with enough experience – in most states, at minimum requirement is four years of construction related work.  

Get your contractor’s license

The last thing standing between you and your general contractor’s license is the exam, but why do you need one? Licensing serves to protect consumers from hiring an unqualified construction manager, so even if you are highly qualified, you don’t look like it in the eyes of your potential clients if you’re unlicensed.

Depending on the state you live in, the material covered and types of exams required varies, so make sure you conduct your research beforehand so that you don’t end up wasting time preparing for the wrong exam. If you don’t prepare at all, you waste risking money on multiple examination fees.

If you’re planning on taking a general contractor’s exam in the future, you can find all of the study materials you’ll need at the Contractors Institute. Our experienced team of professional educators will work with you to ensure you pass your exam the first time. No need to stress yourself out with flashcards and pages upon pages of notes – our webinar programs make learning simple, and our no-fail guarantee ensures your success.


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