7 Steps on How to Become a General Contractor


The construction industry, no matter what region you are in, is incredibly diverse. From the demographics in the workforce, to the actual projects, there are a myriad of various components. All of these features work together with one another, in order to complete a contracted project.

This same sentiment applies to the types of jobs available. For example, you can work as a welder, and specialize in that specific area. Or, you may want to become a general contractor, and oversee and manage entire projects.

If you want to dabble in this particular area, keep in mind the following steps on how to become a general contractor:

Step #1: Learn about a general contractor’s duties

There are different types of contractors you can become, such as retail general contractors that work in store settings, among others. Therefore, it is important to first define what a general contractor is, and what makes it distinct from others. To begin with, a general contractor is one who performs construction on both residential and commercial projects.

The duties enacted varies from project to project. On one hand, it can involve remodeling a specific part of a home. Or, it might not even involve doing physical work; general contractors may choose to oversee projects. These types of contractors encompass the generality of construction work, rather than staying in a niche.

Step #2: Get an education

In order to become a general contractor, you will need to obtain the right education. You will usually be required to complete a three to four year degree. Many employers prefer candidates who have a degree to their name, in order to find a suitable applicant.

However, having a degree is not compulsory all the time. Instead, an interested applicant may choose to complete an apprenticeship with a general contractor who is licensed. This gives them not only the right education credentials, but active experience as well. To get the leg up on your competition, this is very important!

Step #3: Get general contractor certification

Training, and acquiring the correct licensing, is vital. When choosing to become a general contractor, all candidates must go through various levels of training. After this has been completed, an exam will usually be given out, to test the applicant’s knowledge of their field.

Depending on which country or region you find yourself in, each exam will have different requirements. Therefore, it is critical to study the material that is to be expected. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, if you have adequate, on-the-ground experience. Once you have passed your exam, you are well on your way!

Step #4: Register as a general contractor

Since you will be operating as a business owner, you will have to ensure you are properly registered. For example, in Canada, a general contractor must first register with the Canada Revenue Agency. A successful compliance with the CRA means that you will be registered with a unique business number.

This particular business number comes at no cost to the applicant. However, other important licensing credentials, such as a master business license, may have a fee. It is important to double check this with an appropriate board or ministry, to ensure that your back is covered.

Step #5: Create a plan

One of the most overlooked parts of the general contractor process is staying organized. After becoming certified with the appropriate licenses, and racking up clients, it is possible to get burnt out. To counteract this possible problem, you’ll want to create a pre-emptive business plan.

A good business plan allows you to keep abreast of various factors that are pertinent to upcoming projects. For example, you should note in your plan the scope of your finances relevant to a project. Or, you might want to develop various templates, which hold key pieces of client information.

Step #6: Advertise yourself as a general contractor

Getting your name out into the overall field is tantamount to success. You should always prioritize marketing in your business, as it is pivotal when trying to get clientele. This doesn’t have to take more effort than need be either.

Social media has allowed businesses to easily thrive. Make sure you take advantage of all platforms, so that you can get the word out on your trade. If you need this amplified further, digital marketing professionals can be hired to accelerate your general profile.

Step #7: Keep learning to become a better general contractor

Once you have successfully become a certified general contractor, you shouldn’t stop learning. Regulations and codes are always changing, as it pertains to the construction industry. Keep up with all of these alterations, and it will only benefit your business!

A general contractor is mostly able to choose how they want their work to turn out. No matter what project you end up choosing, there will always be a sense of variety attached. With a great work ethic, and a penchant for delivering the best, you will always have fun in this role!