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How to become a contractor?

Tell us everything we need to do to become a Contractor.

We've seen a lot of interest in this career, so we're looking for guidance from our community of professionals.

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Subject: Career question for you

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Robert’s Answer

To female student,
To begin with, do you have any experience?
If not then...
If you would like to work with your hands, see something finished or progressing, NOT sitting at a desk all day, enjoy working in all types of weather, getting dirty as well as getting a workout and most importantly, enjoy creating things from just an idea, then construction is for you.
There are many tyers of construction, rough carpentry (like framing) or finish carpentry (like cabinet making), electrical, plumbing, welding, etc. You can do residential, commercial or industrial building. I would see what tickles your fancy and check on-line for pics and articles, and DIY videos on different projects (but from a professional contracting company not DIY'ers because they are not always correct. You can also do aptitude or personality tests (I think they call them), you can go to work sites and see if you can chat with a supervisor, call companies that you find on the internet in many types of construction and ask to talk to someone or if you find something of interest, see if there is an internship or entry level position open. If you are in school look and see if there is a technical school and go take a tour.

Once you get some experience in a company see if you can learn the estimating part of the field. Then once you get the whole picture, you can choose the field you want to be in charge of, whether it is for a company as a general contractor or on your own. Specializing is quite common, everything from a flooring contractor to a house builder contractor. Then you have to study and take a state test to become licensed.
I hope this helps.
Good luck!

Bob Kohn
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Melinda’s Answer

This is a tough question because there is no quick answer. There are all types of contractors who specialize in a particular trade like plumbing contractor, framing contractor, paint contractor, or electrical contractor, just to name a few. For those trades, you need specific training and licensing. If you are interested in becoming a General Contractor you need to know a lot about all phases of construction. There are college degree programs in construction management, and that would be one way to go. A lot of General Contractors started out as carpenters, framers, or other laborers on job sites where they learned the business hands-on. I am a residential interior designer, and my business evolved into General Contractoring after about ten years of on-the-job experience. I worked as a designer on over 60 residential projects before I did any contracting on my own. This is a hands-on business and every project can present its own new and different challenges. First-hand knowledge and experience are what make you successful. I would suggest that you decide on one aspect of construction that interests you the most, and get training and experience in that trade, then use that to transition into construction management.
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