How to Become a General Contractor


If you were thinking of entering the renovation business, now is a great time to do so.

For those in skilled trades, wages are up, demand is high, and you can pick and choose what you want to do. If you want to move up a pay grade, you can become a general contractor.

Here are the steps to follow if you want to start working as an independent contractor.


#1 Get Experience in the Industry

Clients aren’t going to take you seriously as a general contractor unless you have experience in the construction industry.

A few years working on construction sites, learning the ins and outs of how skilled tradesman and unskilled labor work individually and together, are necessary to have any chance of becoming a good contractor.

Understanding every stage of construction from initial design to project clean-up will prepare you for overseeing the work when it is done by others.

Even if you have a college degree in engineering, logistics, or architecture, you’ll do better working for someone else before you try to become a general contractor on your own.


#2 Obtain a License

Bonding and insurance are essential to anyone working in the building trades, whether you’re the plumber or the plumbing contractor.

Becoming a general contractor likewise requires a Michigan builders license if that is the state you want to base your operation out of. Licensing requirements in your state may require a business license, a licensing exam or simply several years of work experience.

This last one is why we said you should first plan on working in the industry. A general rule of thumb is five years of experience.


#3 Consider Certification

We live in a world where credentials are used as a proxy for one’s knowledge and skill set because there are simply too many people to be able to gauge ability by reputation alone.

There are three main certifications you can apply for to demonstrate your expertise as a general contractor and stand out from the crowded field. The Certified Construction Manager or CCM certification is issued by the Construction Management Association of America.

This certificate requires a bachelor’s degree and some experience, an associate’s degree and four years of experience, or eight years of experience without a degree.

The Associate Constructor certification is the entry-level certification from the American Institute of Constructors. For those who have more experience, the Certified Professional Constructor certification is available.

The American Institute of Constructors doesn’t have minimum education requirements. You could take the exam for the Associate Constructor certification with four years of experience, a four-year degree, or a combination of experience and schooling.

To earn the CPC certification requires eight years of work experience, two of which are in construction management, or a degree and several years of experience. If you already have the AC certification, you don’t need as much work experience to qualify.



These steps are essential for anyone who wants to start a legitimate contracting business. Make sure that you get significant experience in the field and get all the licenses necessary. Also, make sure that you build a solid team around you, so you can get the job done.

Are you thinking about becoming a general contractor?  Share your thoughts on this in the comments below.


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