Become a Service Contractor: Career Information

Research the requirements to become a service contractor. Learn about the job duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in service contracting. View article »

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  • 0:03 Should I Become a…
  • 1:31 Step 1: Select a…
  • 1:54 Step 2: Earn any…
  • 2:24 Step 3: Register the Service
  • 3:19 Step 4: Satisfy…
  • 3:58 Step 5: Obtain…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Service Contractor?

Service contractors can represent various skilled and professional areas, providing their clients with autonomous services under little supervision. Determining one's area of expertise and the market demand for it are initial steps to filling this job role. Applicants may commonly find contractor positions in the construction, landscaping, technical, or writing fields. These workers also may need to oversee other contractors and ensure that their service contracts are properly carried out. Travel between sites might be required, and this occupation may become stressful when deadlines draw close.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma; associate or bachelor's degree may be required for higher-level jobs
Degree Fields Management, industry-related fields
Licensure/Certification May need to obtain a business license and register all services; optional certifications vary by industry
Experience A few years of prior experience usually required
Key Skills Strong communication, administrative skills, management knowledge, problem-solving abilities, discipline and good time management, intermediate and computer skills, working understanding of project management software, industry-specific skills
Median Salary (2016) $60,585 (for general contractors)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net Online,, U.S. Small Business Administration.

Step 1: Select a Particular Service Industry

Contractors work mostly in the construction and landscaping industries, as well as the technical and writing/editing fields. Aspiring service contractors may want to survey or observe their target market, search the Internet, study trends that are creating opportunities for the services, and estimate the operational cost of a potential service to determine feasibility.

Step 2: Earn Any Required Degrees

Construction and landscaping contractors may need an associate or a bachelor's degree in construction science or construction engineering. Aspiring writers and editors may need to earn a bachelor's degree in English or journalism.

Success Tip:

Complete an internship. Many programs allow students to participate in a part-time internship in their chosen concentration. These experiences are often unpaid, but give students a hands-on opportunity to practice their service and learn from mentors.

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Step 3: Register the Service

After identifying a specific service or area of expertise that may be offered on a contractual basis and receiving the proper training, one might decide to start a small business. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a step-by-step guide for that process. Most service industry businesses must be registered with the state of operation. The registration process typically includes naming the business, reporting its organizational structure (a corporation, sole proprietorship, limited liability company), providing a description of its products and services, and paying a registration fee.

Success Tip:

Take finance and business courses. To better manage your services, you may want to enroll in financing and business administration courses individually or through a certificate program. These courses may help you to negotiate client contracts and even better advertise your services.

Step 4: Satisfy Operational Requirements

For a business to be considered legitimate by government entities and prospective clients, the SBA dictates that small business contractors satisfy certain operational requirements. For example, a physical location, phone number, business bank account, Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes, and industry-specific permits may be required by each state. Periodic reports of activities and earnings might also be required by government entities. To assist with meeting reporting and other operational requirements, professionals such as attorneys, accountants, and small business counselors may need to be consulted, according to the SBA.

Step 5: Obtain Industry Certifications

While not every industry requires contractors to be certified, most people will find it beneficial. Certifications may allow for increased salary and job prospects. Check with your industry's licensing board to get specific requirements or options in your state.

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