Info on Becoming a Commercial Contractor

Should I Become a Commercial Contractor?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), contractors may also be referred to as construction or project managers. These professionals oversee the construction, development and remodeling of buildings and complexes. Commercial contractors focus their work on commercial locations, including offices and retail stores. Responsibilities include preparing cost estimates, hiring and overseeing laborers, selecting construction strategies, ensuring regulations are met, determining budgets and updating owners and investors on progress. Many contractors split their time between work at an office and field visits; some long hours may be necessary when deadlines loom.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Name Construction management
Licensure Contractor's license required in some states
Key Skills Technical skills and understanding, knowledge of construction laws, planning/estimation software, managerial and leadership skills, attention to detail, organization, analytical skills
Salary (2014) $85,630 per year (Median salary for construction managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014), Oregon Construction Contractors Board, job postings (November 2012).

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Prospective contractors often enroll in a bachelor's degree program in construction management. In addition to learning about construction and contracting methods and techniques, students get an opportunity to develop managerial and business practices. Courses cover topics in building materials, drafting and blueprint reading, construction equipment, estimating, mechanical and electrical systems and site management.

Success Tip:

  • Find a summer job. During the summer, prospective contractors may consider working in the construction industry to develop experience in the field. Contracting is a broad field, and experience with as many tools and techniques as possible can be helpful.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

An internship provides prospective contractors with experience in the field under the supervision of professional contractors and managers. Interns have an opportunity to assist in safety monitoring, quality control, contracts and order preparation. While participating in an internship, individuals should network and look for employment opportunities.

Success Tip:

  • Intern with a commercial contractor. In order to focus your career on commercial contracting positions, find an internship that specializes in building and remodeling commercial properties.

Step 3: Earn a Contractor's License

One option to advance in the industry is earning a contractor's license. Licensed commercial contractors may hire or subcontract work to other contractors. While requirements vary by state, most states mandate that applicants successfully complete a comprehensive business, law and building code exam. Prospective candidates may consider contractor exam preparatory classes offered by community colleges or private businesses.

States may also require contractors to create a legal business and file their business name with the appropriate state board. Additional requirements may include proof of financial credibility, workmen's compensation, liability insurance and net worth.

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