Education is a crucial component to succeed in any industry. For some businesses, a certain degree or educational certification is a qualification and requirement. For others, education is a means to earn more in their career.
In the construction industry, formal training is not required for construction laborers as they learn on the job. However, construction is such a big industry that a person can be more than a laborer or helper. They can train in different specializations and earn more from the industry.
One of the most lucrative positions to be in the business is by being a contractor. In this article, we learn what it takes to be a successful contractor through education.
What Is a Contractor?
In the most general sense, a contractor is someone who performs a job under a contract. However, in the construction industry, the use of the term is a little different because the industry is complex; there are certain parts of the construction process that needs different skill sets from various participants.
In the construction industry, there are contractors and subcontractors. A contractor is sometimes called a general contractor or a prime contractor; it is a person or a company that a property owner directly hires. As a company, a contractor sometimes has a complete crew with different skill sets to cover all aspects of the construction process.
Sometimes, however, a contractor hires the help of a subcontractor. Subcontractors enter a subcontract with the contractor to fulfill a unique aspect of a project. They are contractors, too. The only difference is that they are not hired directly by the property owner.
The Role of a Contractor
Contractors perform different tasks not only for constructing new buildings but also for renovations of properties and infrastructures. They hire subcontractors who are usually plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. Contractors are generally small businesses or individuals that are self-employed.
The Educational Requirements for a General Contractor License
To begin as an independent general contractor, one must acquire a license. This license requirement varies for different states, but it typically includes the following:
- A general contractor must be at least 18 years of age.
- One must possess at least a high school diploma.
- They must be legally qualified to work in the US.
- One must have a clean construction record.
Of course, as general contracting is a competitive business, a general contractor must not only satisfy but exceed these requirements. In the US, around 45% of general contractors have a bachelor’s degree. Approximately 85% of general contractors major in business; aside from a business degree, a general contractor usually has general studies or a construction management major.
Over the years, more and more employers have hired contractors with degrees in civil engineering and construction science. An associate degree matched with years of practical experience can be a good substitute for a bachelor’s degree. For a master’s degree, schools and universities offer various programs, including project control and development, site planning, and contract administration.
As mentioned earlier, earning a degree is a big deal when determining a contractor’s earnings or revenue. Based on statistics, a contractor with a bachelor’s degree usually earns $59,936 annually, while one with a master’s degree earns an average income of $66,328. The most famous colleges with graduates who pursued a career in general contracting are Purdue University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Phoenix.
In some cases, a contractor may require continuing education. Some contractors need this to qualify for specific certifications. To secure continuing education, enrolling in a contractor school is necessary.
The primary reason for continuing education is for contractors to update themselves with the industry changes continuously. When a general contractor is up-to-date, they can give expert advice on clients. At the same time, one can successfully compete with other general contracting businesses and earn the respect of their peers in the industry.
Through continuing education, a general contractor can improve their business’ marketability. By acquiring more professional licenses and certifications, clients will trust the company more. With trust comes more clients and lasting partnerships; all these lead to a successful business in the industry.
As most people know, one does not only learn within the four corners of a classroom. Getting a mentor can help immensely when starting in the construction industry, too. A mentor is someone who has been in the industry for years and has a diverse set of experiences to share with a budding general contractor.
A mentor in the industry is helpful because you know that they have worn the general contractor hat. Through experience, they can advise on managing the business, your finances, and your customers. These mentors also have valuable experiences when it comes to overcoming challenges in the industry.
Learning Through Experience
Lastly, the best way to learn is through experience. So if you really wish to be part of the general contracting industry, equip yourself with knowledge from school and gather experiences once you get into the industry.