Online Schools for Aspiring General Contractors: How to Choose

Learn about important considerations when selecting an online general contractor school. Keep reading to get an overview of the program options, career prospects, and common topics offered for the field of study.

Desired major, program format, and licensure preparation are all factors to consider when deciding on an online program that will help you prepare to become a general contractor. We'll examine these factors and introduce you to a few online degree programs available in the construction field.

How to Select an Online General Contractor School

General contractors are responsible for overseeing the construction of residential and commercial buildings, roads and other structures. Though a formal degree is not necessary to enter the field, a distance-learning program in construction can prepare candidates to take a general contractor's state licensure exam. Distance-learning programs in construction management or construction technology can be found fully online or as hybrid programs. Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available.

Major Options

General contractors must be knowledgeable of the construction industry; therefore, those seeking a formal education that will prepare them for this role can consider online degree programs in construction management or construction technology. These programs cover construction techniques, materials, building codes and safety. Aspiring contractors can choose between an associate's or bachelor's degree in a construction field.

Program Type

Many construction management and civil engineering programs are available fully online, which is beneficial for those who need flexibility in their program schedule. There are a few hybrid programs available as well; this means some courses take place on campus, where students interact directly with materials as they practice construction techniques. Those considering an online or hybrid program should check to see if their school and program are accredited and provide sufficient training to meet their state's specific requirements for working in the construction industry. For example, ABET commonly accredits construction and engineering programs.

Licensure Preparation

Many states don't require a degree to obtain a general contractor's license. However, earning a degree in a field like construction management or civil engineering, which include training in building and safety codes, can help prepare students for residential and building contractor licensure exams. Some states require licensure candidates to have minimum amount of work experience, but college credits can sometimes count toward that minimum.

List of Online Degree Programs for Prospective General Contractors

Online Associate's Degrees in Construction

In two years or less, students can earn an associate's degree in construction management or construction technology. They communicate with instructors and submit work via the Internet. Programs may provide training in:

  • Drawings and specifications
  • Materials purchasing
  • Project management
  • Cost estimating
  • OSHA compliance

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Construction

Participants learn to read construction documents (including project plans and bids), communicate effectively with the construction team and ensure safety by making sure that buildings are up to code. Graduates can work toward becoming a licensed general contractor with jobs as construction workers, assistant project managers, superintendents or estimators. Classes cover topics in:

  • Documents and contracts
  • Construction estimations
  • Sustainability
  • Project controls

Schools with Online Programs in Construction

Ashworth College has an online associate's degree program in construction management. Although students may transfer credits to apply to this degree, this is not an application requirement. All course materials are included with tuition, which may increase the program's affordability.

Through Indiana State University, students can complete an online bachelor's degree in construction management. The program is available to residents of the United States and Canada, as well as some U.S. citizens stationed abroad on military or other specified service. Students in this undergraduate program must have a computer with Windows installed in order to complete the coursework assignments.

The University of Minnesota has a hybrid bachelor's degree program in construction management, as well as minor and certificate options. Applicants must have completed 45 credit hours of college coursework, including physics, calculus, building, and construction plan reading. Pre-major admission is available to students who have completed at least 30 credits. While in the program, students must also complete a minimum 3-credit internship to develop hands-on skills and begin networking for their future careers.

Online and hybrid programs for prospective contractors are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels. In addition, students may take online courses specifically to prepare them for certification in the field.

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