How to Become a General Contractor
What Is A General Contractor?
A general contractor is one who contracts for the construction of an entire project rather than just a portion of the work. Typically, a general contractors hire subcontractors to do specific tasks, although he may perform the work on a construction project himself. If he hires subcontractors, he is responsible for payment to those subcontractors. The general contractor is also the supervisor of the construction of the job and he is the primary contact with the property owner.
What Skills Must The A General Contractor Have?
General contractors are typically people who have many different skills in many different areas. Not only what must one know their trade, but they must be skilled business people and managers as well. Many times, a general contractor will need to know how to manage groups of people working for him. These people may be on his own team, or may be subcontractors hired for specific tasks. A general contractor must also be able to meet with the owners' representatives and be able to summarize the progress in language everybody can understand. A general contractor is responsible for successful completion of the job in a timely manner. General contractors must know how to schedule projects and may need good management skills to resolve disputes among his teams.
Where do I Start?
Typically, General contractor start out as apprentices, working their way through the trade. Many start in a part-time position and work their way to full time career. Some general contractor's start to their apprentice training in union shops which teach general construction trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, or operating heavy equipment.
While being an apprentice and learning the trade, it is also important to take classes along the way. Classes such as math, drafting, engineering, and business management will help the long run. Also, learning Spanish or another language is a plus for working with people who may not speak English as a first language.
Employers typically prefer individuals who have construction industry field experience as well as a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, operations management, construction management or construction science.