The day-to-day tasks of a general contractor vary depending on the size and type of project you’re working on.

Some contractors begin as laborers or consultants and work their way up through the company before heading up big projects themselves; others start small, building connections with subcontractors and landing jobs that eventually lead to more extensive opportunities. 

Read on if you want to know how to become a general contractor.

Steps to become a general contractor

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to become a general instructor with no experience, as the process varies depending on the kind of contractor you plan to be. 

For example, you are a carpenter planning to become a contractor, you may only need to register with your state.

That said, there are some general steps that all contractors must take to become licensed or registered. These include:

Get the necessary knowledge to become a general contractor. 

If you’re thinking, ‘how do I become a general contractor,’ or how long does it take to become a general contractor, this article is for you. Keep in mind that every state has the same basic contractor standards for individuals who want to get a license. The requirements include:


Education and Training

Some contractors have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in management, project planning, or architecture, among other areas. States have various standards for contractor applications.

If you don’t have any prior expertise or haven’t completed a degree program, you may enroll in a contractor school program instead. This would teach you how to go into business for yourself as a general contractor with no experience or find your specialty trade.

If you want to be an electrician, plumber, or any other specialist, you’ll need specialized training.

The contractor training might offer you upfront materials, financing, budgeting, and company strategy. 

The training may also teach you about essential construction rules in the United States, such as energy efficiency standards, hazardous materials, management procedures, worker safety compliance, and more.

Hands-on Experience 

Still wondering how do you become a general contractor without relevant education? You must complete a construction apprenticeship or work in a construction-related occupation before you can become a general contractor.

This is how you may gain practical and business experience in your specialty. You also gain theoretical and practical knowledge from seasoned experts.

Numerous laws surround the contractor types you may choose based on your needs. Many states have stringent standards for contractor training, type, certification, and apprenticeship programs. 

A three-year minimum is typical. You must first determine the criteria in your state, county, or city and ensure that you fulfill them before applying for a license.


Pass a State Exam

To demonstrate your eligibility to operate a contracting firm, you must pass a business test with the appropriate licensing agency. You may have to take a special test that assesses your particular talents.

During your apprenticeship, get ahead by learning the fundamental concepts of your trade so that you may have an edge during the licensing examination.

Plan your business 

Developing a solid business plan is an undervalued element of learning how to become a general contractor without experience.

A contractor’s business plan consists of various components, including the work they will do and the financial aspects of operating a business.

To ensure that your business plan is successful and realistic over time, make sure it includes the following elements.

Determine your unique selling proposition.

When thinking about selling your work as a general contractor, it can be challenging to know where to start. 

You generally want to create a strong selling point that makes you stand out from other service providers. The key is usually understanding what will be unique for this company and catering your services around that idea.

Determine finances

It’s paramount to handle your finances as a contractor to save yourself money and avoid losing potential clients.

You can start by creating a complete set of detailed specifications for the project, including itemized requirements and pricing information. This will give you an accurate list of all materials for the project, and it will help you determine costs when you get your bids from suppliers.

You’ll want to factor in the cost of materials and any labor for installation or construction. Adding up all of these figures can help you to determine a general idea of how much the entire project will cost. This can help you estimate a range of costs that you might expect from the project, and it will allow you to set a fair price for your services.

You should also consider your costs when determining project finances. Even though you’re ultimately providing something of value by completing construction or installation work, you still need to cover your expenses while the project is underway. This includes things like materials, equipment, and transportation costs.

Considering all these factors allows creating a realistic budget for your project that will help to ensure its success. Having a good understanding of your project finances will also help you avoid costly surprises down the road, which can be a real boon for you and your clients.

Decide on your marketing strategy.

There are a few different marketing strategies that you can use as a general contractor. An essential part of any marketing strategy is to align with your business goals.

Some common marketing strategies for general contractors include:

  • Advertising in print or online media outlets
  • Sponsoring or taking part in local events
  • Spending time networking and attending industry events
  • Digital marketing will also help you, so make sure that you 

These are just a few ways general contractors can market their business. Any number of strategies could be adequate depending on your company’s location, size, and needs. The important part is to ensure that you have a plan or know what you need to do and when to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

If you’re not sure where to start, working with a marketing consultant can help you develop a plan that fits your business and budget. By taking the time to create a well-thought-out marketing strategy, you’ll be able to reach more potential customers and grow your business.


Get a contractor license and bond.

Finding out how to get licensed and bonded for general contracting is something every contractor will have to do to kickstart their career.

So what are the requirements? How much does it cost? When should you begin preparing? And will your existing license qualify you for the bond, or do you need to get a new one?

STEP 1: Get Licensed

Step one is getting your general contractor’s license. You can get this through a state-sponsored exam or by proving that you have enough experience in construction work and management.

For those already licensed as a plumber, electrician, or other trade, getting your general contractor’s license is usually providing proof that you meet the state-mandated requirements. 

You’ll also need to provide documentation that shows you have held the licenses required for the work (i.e., plumbing and electrical).

If you don’t have a general contractor’s license, the process of getting one generally includes:

  • Taking a state-sponsored exam
  • Providing proof of experience in construction work and/or management
  • Getting a license from your local municipality (if required)

Your state’s licensing board can provide more information on requirements for your specific case.

STEP 2: Get Bonded

After knowing how to become a licensed general contractor, the next step is to bond. This process usually includes finding a reputed bonding company and completing an application. The bonding company will then conduct a credit check and require you to provide collateral.

The amount of the bond required varies by state. You should contact your bonding company or insurance provider for this information.

Be aware that not all general contractors need a bond—only those who work on buildings or projects that fall under the relative monetary limits set by your state. 

The bond amount required varies by state, so it is essential to contact your bonding company or insurance provider for more information.


Prepare required documents 

In addition to the necessary information, the contract document must include enough details so that you can do the work or provide the service.

Some of the appropriate documents include:

  • Set of plans
  • Construction schedule
  • Details about the payment process
  • Worker’s compensation insurance certificate
  • Certificate of liability insurance
  • Permits (if required)

When ready to start a project, you will need these documents to provide an accurate proposal. The more information you can provide upfront, the smoother the process will be.

The contract should also include a payment schedule. This will outline how and when the client will make payments. Generally, there are three ways of making payments. 

Progress Payments – these are payments made on completion of work.

Final Payment – this is paid after completing the job and filing the required paperwork,

Retainage – a percentage of the total payment is withheld until giving the final approval.

The payment schedule needs tailoring to your project and your client.

The contract should also include insurance information to ensure that everyone is protected. You should provide proof of insurance that covers your employees, subcontractors, and client. 

This way, you’ll know that all of the client’s bases are covered if something happens while completing the project.

Having a clear understanding of the documents required for the project will help avoid any delays or misunderstandings.


Use special software

There are software options specifically designed for general contractors on the market. 

The first step to getting one is to consider any options for tracking your time. There are three main types of software you can use, which differ in how they work and in what kind of businesses they are best suited for:

Desktop Applications: these applications run on the same computer or device you use to do your work. They usually have a timer you can start and stop and track your time by project or client.

Web-Based Applications: these applications run on a web server, and you access them via the Internet to use their features. Their significant advantage is the ease of use; all you need is an Internet browser and an Internet connection, without any extra software installed on your computer.

Mobile Applications: these are applications you install on your mobile devices, such as a smartphone or tablet computer. Like web-based applications, they have many usability advantages.

The costs for any of these types of software vary; some are free while others charge a monthly or annual fee, with prices often related to the number of users in your business. 

Consider what kinds of tools each application has to help you stay productive. For example, do they include a timer, report generator, or task management system?

The bottom line is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of which software to use for your business. The best solution is one that fits your specific needs and business model. 

Do some research, consider your options, and pick what works for you.


How much does a general contractor earn?

There is no one definitive answer to this question, as the amount of money a general contractor earns can vary depending on several factors. According to, the average hourly salary for a general contractor in the United States is $21.66, and the annual pay is $6,750.

Some factors that can affect how much a general contractor earns include:

Location – What state the general contractor is working from can impact how much they earn. 

Type of Work: Another factor that affects how much a general contractor earns is the type of work they perform. 

Company Size: The company’s size can also affect how much one earns. 

Education: How much a general contractor earns may also be affected by their level of education. 

Experience: Finally, a general contractor’s experience level can also affect how much they earn. 

So, while there is no one definitive answer to how much a general contractor earns, it is clear that this amount can vary depending on several factors.

With that in mind, aspiring general contractors need to research and determine the factors affecting their potential earnings to set appropriate career goals