If you dream of being a general contractor, you probably wonder what it takes to get there. Naturally, you want to know whether or not you need a license. The basic answer is that yes, you legally need a license to become a general contractor. However, general contractor licensing requirements are determined at the state level.Therefore, you might not need the same license requirements
to work in Michigan as you do in Maine.
How to Begin
Some states, like California
, have much more stringent licensing requirements than others. What qualifies you as a general contractor
in one state won't necessarily meet the requirements in another. A written exam is required in most places. Safety, legal bidding practices, labor laws, and taxes are topics commonly covered. Some states also require proof of insurance and personal references. A background check is usually standard, too.
The Path to Becoming a GC
No matter where you are, you'll need to have a minimum amount of education and/or experience. Formal education, an apprenticeship, and industry experience are all common requirements for a license. The amount of time you spend learning skills as an apprentice and through formal education vary by state, however. Sometimes, having a higher level of education translates to a higher starting salary
, regardless of where you live and your state's minimum educational requirements. Obtaining a Bachelor's or Master's degree can ramp up your potential earnings. But even taking some trade school courses can help you land jobs, too.
In most states, prospective contractors must pass a criminal background check as part of their general contractor licensing requirements. However, you don't have to panic if you have a criminal record. Applications are evaluated on an individual basis. The nature of the crime and the amount of time that has passed since your conviction are taken into consideration when determining your suitability to work.
In many states, passing a written exam is essential to securing work as a general contractor. Since each state sets a different requirement for testing, it is hard to say precisely what topics will appear on an exam. However, safety, bidding practices, contracts, and taxes are some common GC topics that appear nationally on exams for a contractor's license. Some states also have different requirements for getting a permit rather than applying for a license. Depending on your experience, education, and scope of practice, you may want to take that into consideration, too.
Want more information on obtaining or renewing a general contractor license in your state? Click here to find online training options for your state’s specific state.
In order to work as a general contractor, you'll need to legally have a license. In many places, you can work as a handyman or tradesman without offering the full technical services of a general contractor. Essentially, a general contractor oversees all aspects of a construction project from start to finish. If you specialize in a particular area like painting or plumbing, you may be able to perform your services without a GC license.
General contract licensing requirements vary by state. However, at a minimum all states require some degree of knowledge and education to get work as a general contractor.
Ready to start your online training toward becoming a General Contractor? Our programs are fast, easy and affordable and can help you launch into a new career path. Click here to get started.