A general contractor is responsible to overseeing and organizing all aspects of a construction site, which requires a combination of skill, experience and education. A good contractor should have excellent people and leadership skills as well as a working knowledge of the entire building process. Luckily, the demand for general contracting jobs is expected to increase despite the flux in the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Students, as well as those already working in the construction field may do well to ask how to become a general contractor.
Mandatory Qualifications for General Contractors
All states require two very specific things in order to become a licensed general contractor. Anyone wishing to obtain a license must be over the age of 18 and able to work legally in the United States. Secondly, individual states have their own specifications in order to qualify for licensing, and applicants must be able to pass the examinations. Knowledge in the areas of cost effectiveness, accounting, construction materials and site planning are essential in passing the contracting exam.
General Contractors and Formal Education
While it is not a requirement to have a degree or any type of formal education, developers look favorably on general contractors who have taken at least some classes. Even if a degree is not obtained, there are certain college courses which may give a perspective general contractor an advantage. For instance, taking classes in accounting, business management, cost estimating and construction will certainly make a general contractor more attractive to developers and builders.
Work Experience for General Contractors
Most of the skills and information needed to pass licensing exams can be learned on the job. An alert laborer in the construction field can learn information by asking for apprenticeship training, or simply by observing the day to day workings of the job. Many times, laborers have dealings with the developer or builder which can give indications as to what is needed to be a general contractor. The more information absorbed in the field, the better the chances of passing the licensing examination with a bit of self teaching. This is often the cheaper but longer option.
Leadership Skills for General Contractors
General contractors are liaisons between the builders and the subcontractors. Without people skills and leadership, a general contractor does not do well. These skills do not always come naturally to people, but they can be acquired through experience as well as training. General contractors should be equally comfortable dealing with a developer and a laborer. Again, a college course on management may be helpful as it will go into detail on the required leadership skills and tips for this role.
As can be seen from above, there are generally three ways to become a contractor. Either by attending a college course and becoming a registered contractor by degree; my completing an apprenticeship; or by using practical work experience and self teaching methods to manually pass the exams required to be licensed. With any of these methods, the trick to success is to stay dedicated and focused.