How to Become a Concrete Paving Contractor

Jul 20, 2018

Learn how to become a concrete paving contractor. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career as a concrete paving contractor.

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Concrete Paving Contractors

Concrete paving contractors build highways and roads using concrete. This job includes moving earth using heavy equipment or explosives, preparing the road bed, constructing concrete forms, mixing and pouring the concrete, and finishing the surface, all according to job specifications. Contractors generally have crews and subcontractors working under them and are responsible for supervising their work, promoting job site safety, and ensuring the quality of the construction and materials. A contractor generally obtains jobs by submitting bids on advertised projects.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience
Degree Field Civil engineering or similar field
Licensure and Certification All states require independent contractors to be licensed
Experience 4-5 years, either on the job or through an apprenticeship
Key Skills Professional knowledge of project management and of concrete; able to use accounting software, project management software, and analytical or scientific software for engineering; be able to manage industry tools and equipment, such as forms, spreaders, screeds, roller tubes, floats, and explosives
Salary (2010) $87,400 (Median annual salary for construction managers, which include concrete paving contractors)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State contractor licensing authorities, Various bachelor's degree programs.

Be a Concrete Paving Contractor

What steps should I take to become a concrete paving contractor?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Civil engineering degree programs offer a strong technical background for those interested in becoming concrete paving contractors. They provide courses in chemistry, physics, calculus, materials, fluid mechanics, and engineering related to soils, structures, and materials. Specific courses for prospective concrete paving contractors cover concrete design, project management for pavements, distress identification, structural evaluation, and rehabilitation alternatives. Students who aspire to concrete contracting can take business electives to provide the basic accounting and writing skills required to keep a knowledgeable eye on business operations. A critical aspect of a contractor's job is preparing and submitting bids on jobs, and these degree programs also offer courses that include cost analysis methods and laws related to government contracting.

It's a good idea to do some work as a concrete paving laborer. The engineering student can gain valuable hands-on experience in concrete paving by working as a laborer on concrete paving projects during the summer months. Working on job sites will help anyone learn more aspects of the business and be a more knowledgeable contractor.

Step 2: Obtain Experience

If an aspiring concrete paving contractor does not complete a bachelor's degree program, the training and experience required for such a career can be obtained through formal apprenticeship programs or by starting at the bottom as a laborer and working one's way up through the ranks. Unions and technical schools offer apprenticeship programs that cover some aspects of this career field. There are programs for heavy equipment operation, concrete work or laborer apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship programs generally take 3-4 years to complete, involving classroom training and extensive practical experience on job sites. Some apprenticeships will result in an associate's degree upon completion of coursework and experience requirements.

Step 3: Obtain Contractor's License

All states require independent paving contractors to be licensed by the state. Generally, the requirements to be a licensed contractor include proving that the contractor's business is financially solvent, which is done by submitting detailed financial statements with the licensing application. The contractor must have at least four years of experience in concrete paving, and some states require the contractor to have a bachelor's degree.

Applicants may have to pass a written examination, submit fingerprints, pass a criminal background check, and post a bond. Most states require contractors to have adequate liability insurance as well as worker's compensation insurance for employees. Licenses must generally be renewed annually.

Step 4: Join a Professional Organization

Organizations such as the American Concrete Paving Association (ACPA) or the National Pavement Contractors Association give concrete paving contractors a resource to network with other professionals. Professional organizations also provide on-site and online training programs for contractors who want to stay up to date on new trends in the field. Networking with other contractors, government agencies, materials suppliers and academics can help a business expand its base by developing new opportunities and providing improved products.

Concrete paving contractors hire and manage the crews and subcontractors who build highways and roads using concrete. They have college degrees, along with knowledge of concrete and project management. They handle relevant software and equipment, and they earn a median annual salary of $87,400.

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