With a high school diploma and experience it is possible to begin working as a construction contractor; however, some employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor's degree in construction management. State licensing may also be required.
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Contractors manage, budget, plan, direct and coordinate various aspects of construction projects, from the building of residential areas and commercial spaces to roads and bridges. While hands-on training and experience can take the place of formal education, many of these positions require a bachelor's degree in construction management, construction science or a related field. Many states say contractors must be licensed to work on certain types of projects; requirements vary.
|Required Education||High school education and experience can be sufficient, but a bachelor's degree in construction management or another relevant field is becoming more common|
|Licensing||State contractor's license may be required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5% for construction managers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$87,400 for construction managers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Individuals who are interested in becoming contractors often learn the skills of the trade through hands-on training and working on a construction site. Before becoming a contractor, many people have a job as a laborer. Apprenticeships and internships provide valuable training in carpentry, plumbing, electrical work or masonry, and can sometimes substitute for an education background.
It is more common to have a bachelor's degree to work as a contractor, and many accredited colleges and universities offer programs in construction science, construction management, building science or civil engineering, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). These programs focus on various aspects of the construction business, including classes in site planning, designing, construction methods, contract administration, building codes and standards, as well as mathematics, accounting and information technology.
Master's degree programs are also available at many institutions in construction management or construction science. Some construction professionals seek out bachelor's or master's degrees in business administration or finance as well. Those with master's degrees in this field often become contractors at larger construction or construction management companies due to their credentials, as reported by the BLS.
While certification is not required to work in construction management, it is becoming more common because it shows competence and demonstrates the proper training in the field. Certification opportunities are available at the American Institute of Constructors and the Construction Management Association of America, according to the BLS.
The American Institute of Constructors offers the Associate Constructor (AC) and Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) designations to those who meet the requirements and successfully complete the proper examinations. The Construction Management Association of America awards the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation to workers who have the required experience and pass a technical examination.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the BLS, construction managers or general contractors are projected to see a 5% growth in the field from 2014-2024, which is average. The projected increase is expected to stem from the need for contractors to manage new construction projects due to population and business growth. Additionally, the median annual wage for construction managers was $87,400 in May 2015.
The job growth for construction contractors is expected to be stable from 2014-2024. Applicants can improve their ability to compete for jobs by completing a bachelor's degree in construction management or construction science and acquiring a state license.