Should You Become a General Contractor?
Before knowing what it takes to become a general contractor, you must first determine if this is a career path that you’d want to pursue. A general contractor is a skilled trades professional who renovates and remodels residential properties, as well as commercial properties. They also perform construction on new buildings. While many general contractors engage in a lot of the physical work of improvement, their main job is to oversee an entire project from start to finish with the help of subcontractors.
General contractors may also have a speciality such as carpentry, electrical work, heating, masonry, plumbing, or refrigeration. This means that they can perform specialty work without having to hire a separate contractor. General contractors are also typically self-employed, which allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, then here are the steps to take to become a general contractor.
Attend a Trade School for Construction, Gain Experience, and Get Licensed
The minimum requirements for becoming a general contractor are to have a high school diploma and adequate experience, and this experience can be obtained by attending a trade school and studying construction. These programs are usually no longer than three years, and are much less expensive than attending a college or university. However, it should be noted that those who receive a Bachelor’s degree make more money than those who’ve only received an Associate degree. Still, it is possible to receive the same amount of education and experience by attending a trade school.
The amount of experience you have as a contractor may also influence your annual salary, as having adequate experience is an important part of any division of the skilled trades. Fortunately, attending school to become a contractor will allow you to participate in an apprenticeship or internship program to gain experience. Once you’ve completed your educational requirements and gained experience, you’ll be ready to apply for your license, as required by the North Carolina Licensing Board of General Contractors.
Getting Your Business Started
As mentioned before, most general contractors are self-employed, meaning that they take on jobs in their local area as they become available. Because there are several general contractors in the state, you’ll want to make sure that your business stands out in order to attract clients. A mixture of both traditional and digital marketing techniques can help get the word out about your new contracting business. Flyers and an ad in the local newspaper are helpful, but you’ll be able to reach many more people by advertising through social media.
It’s also a good idea to have a professional business website created. Not only will this allow a simple landing spot for potential customers to learn about your business, but it can also serve as a portfolio of your past work so prospective clients will know what to expect from you. Other tasks you’ll need to do to get your business up and running include:
Drafting an official business plan to receive the necessary funds to start your
Securing a commercial building and commercial vehicle to operate your business,
keeping your business and personal assets separate.
Obtaining the proper business licenses and business insurance to legally operate a
contracting business in North Carolina.
Registering with the North Carolina Secretary of State.
Keep Your License Up to Date and Continue Learning
North Carolina requires its general contractors to complete eight hours of continued education each year, as well as renew his or her contractor’s license. Fortunately, you can renew your license online instead of having to take courses in-person on a college campus. The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors states that licenses not renewed by a certain date will become invalid, meaning that you will not be able to legally perform construction work on a home or other building. This means that it’s extremely important that you keep up with renewing your license for the success of your business.
Becoming a general contractor in North Carolina definitely has its benefits. Depending on the amount of experience you have and which part of the state you work in, you have the opportunity to make anywhere between $20,000 and $80,000 per year. You’ll also have certain job security because the construction sector is expected to continue to grow over the next few years.
Even if you have a passion for home improvement projects that require you to renovate a small space, or even build a new space, this is definitely a career worth looking into.