How do I become a general contractor

How do I become a general contractor – A Step-by-Step Guide

Aspiring contractor on the horizon, sit tight. You’re about to dive into the world of how do I become a general contractor, and it’s simpler than you might think. Steering away from jargon, let’s break down your career path, step by step – the basics, requirements, and perks of the job.

Before we get into the details, let’s know that a general contractor is like the boss at a construction site. They make sure everything goes smoothly, whether it’s fixing up a house or building a store. They’re like the leader of a team that includes architects, electricians, plumbers, and others. The bottom line? You’re charged with the task of creating a symphony of coordination and making sure everything runs like a well-oiled machine.

Now, let’s dive straight into what you’re here for.

How do I become a general contractor in NYC?

If you’re aiming to become a general contractor, you’ll need to meet a set of requirements. It’s not a profession where one can simply walk in and claim a space. Let’s break it down.

  • Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is the minimum educational requirement. This is to ensure you have basic literacy and numerical skills which are important in the construction world.
  • Experience: Most states will require you to have a certain amount of practical experience in the construction industry. This can be obtained through apprenticeships or working under an experienced contractor.
  • Financial Solvency: Some may find it odd but indeed, you need to demonstrate financial solvency. It’s about showing that you can manage a project’s finances and not drive it into the ground.
  • Licensing Exam: Once you’ve gained the necessary experience, you’re eligible to sit for your state’s licensing exam. Passing the exam is an indication that one has a working knowledge of construction laws, practices, and safety regulations.

Keep in mind, these are the general requirements. Specifics can vary depending on your local jurisdiction, so it’s best to double-check the regulations in your location.

How much experience do I need to become a general contractor?

The most common requirement around the globe revolves around 2 to 5 years of hands-on experience.

Although, it’s crucial to comprehend that not all experience is created equal. Working as a laborer on a construction site would surely expose you to the ins and outs of the industry but may not suffice when you aim to manage the entire project. Hence, it’s appropriate to say, quality overpowers quantity when aspiring to become a potent general contractor.

Think about jobs like a Construction Manager or an Assistant Project Manager. In these roles, you get to help plan, manage money, and watch over projects. This helps you learn a lot for a job as a General Contractor.

Having some projects under your belt, where you’ve demonstrated the ability to manage workers, interact with clients and inspectors, and keep projects on schedule and budget, could serve as indispensable experience, shaping you into an effective General Contractor.

Remember, the more diverse your experience, the better equipped you would be to handle anything tossed your way in this field. And hey, who knows, maybe the knack for overcoming unforeseen construction challenges might become your trademark in this industry!

What skills do I need to become a general contractor?

You need a handful of skills that could arguably be the secret sauce to your success in this career.

Technical Knowledge

Of course, being a general contractor means you need to know a thing or two about construction. And by a thing or two, we really mean a truckload. You’ll be the main contact for everything related to the project, which means you need to be in the know about architectural design, engineering, laws and codes, and even a bit of landscaping if you want to add some flair.

Project Management

Hope you’re handy with organizing tasks. Construction projects come with a lot of moving parts: coordinating with clients, managing time schedules, overseeing workers, ensuring safety standards – you name it, you’re likely in charge of it.


On any given day, a dozen issues might arise ranging from scheduling conflicts to budget shortfalls. You’ll need your problem-solving hat on to navigate these tricky waters.


As a general contractor, clear communication is a must to ensure that all the various workers know their task, deadlines, and standards.


There’ll be times where you’ll be haggling with suppliers for the best deals or negotiating deadlines with clients. Being a smooth negotiator can often be the difference between a profitable project and a financial disaster.

Do general contractors need a license in NYC?

Yes. You absolutely do. Having a license is a must-have in NYC and most, if not all, states in the U.S. Not only does it prove your competence, but it also gives your clients confidence in your abilities.

How much is a contractor license in NYC?

The license fee itself will set you back about $330 for a three-year license. But, wait, there’s more! You have to add in several other costs to get a true sense of the total price tag.

  • Fingerprinting Fee: Fingerprinting costs around $75.
  • Background Check Fee: This is usually about $50.
  • The One-Shot Deal: This is the $200 application fee you need to pay for a new license or renewal. Once paid, it doesn’t need to be paid again during the three-year term of the license.

What is a contractor’s license in NY?

In New York, having a contractor’s license is like having a special permission slip that says you can do construction work the right way. It’s like a stamp of approval that tells people you follow all the rules for building things in our state. So when you have this license, folks can trust you to do a great job. It’s like a badge of honor, and you’ve earned it through hard work and dedication.

Can I become a general contractor if I have a criminal record?

So you’ve got a criminal record, and you’re wondering, “can I still pursue my dream of becoming a general contractor?” Good news! It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker — but there are few things to consider.

First, state licensing boards require background checks, and yes, they will find your criminal record. However, not all crimes are considered relevant. If your conviction is unrelated to the duties and responsibilities of a general contractor, it might not be a problem. A past DUI might not stop you, but a fraud conviction could. Remember, honesty about your past can work in your favor.

Second, some states might require a period of ‘good conduct’ after the final disposition date of the crime. So, sometime might need to pass before you can pursue contracting.

Third, an appeal to the licensing board might be necessary. It will be an extra step, but it’s essential to showcase your transformation since the conviction. Show them you have the moral character to become a licensed contractor.

Lastly, when you get the license, keep in mind potential clients might run background checks too. Transparency and honesty about the past can help build trust. Just remember to keep your nose clean, perform quality work, and over time, your criminal record will become less significant.

What is the average salary of a general contractor?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2019, the median annual wage for construction managers, a category that includes general contractors, was $95,260. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $56,140, and the top 10 percent pocketed more than $164,790.

Of course, it’s not all about the money – becoming a general contractor also requires passion and dedication. However, it’s always good to know the financial reality.

What are the potential career growth opportunities for a general contractor?

Let’s talk about career growth. As a general contractor, the sky isn’t your ceiling; it’s another milestone to conquer. The array of opportunities that can present themselves after years of honing your craft as a general contractor are as diverse as a painter’s palette.

For starters, you can elevate your role to that of a construction manager. In this job, you’re like the boss of a big building project. You make sure all the tools and workers are used the right way. It’s like making sure a big puzzle fits together perfectly. If you do a great job, you might even become a big boss in a construction company, like a manager or vice president.

If the entrepreneurial bug has got you itching for a chance to make your mark, starting your own contracting business is a viable path. You get to be your own boss, and live out the thrill, as well as the peril, of running a business. It’s like driving but you’re on the driver’s seat, not just holding the steering wheel.

Being a general contractor doesn’t restrict you to the construction zone either. You can branch out into education or consulting. After accumulating a wealth of knowledge and techniques over the years, why not share it with fresh minds? You could become a construction educator or consultant, giving advice or teaching classes to new recruits in the industry.

You could even tread the waters of real estate development. The skills and knowledge you’ve gathered would certainly come in handy when making decisions about the strategic planning, construction, and marketing involved in real estate projects.


Wrapping up, climbing the ladder to become a general contractor may require some grit, but it’s well within reach. You’ll need to meet certain requirements, gain the necessary experience, acquire relevant skills, and potentially obtain a license. While a college degree isn’t a prerequisite, it can certainly be an added advantage. Even if you do have a criminal record, this profession is not completely closed off to you.

It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you end up. So, if you’ve got a knack for fixing things, a mind for business, and a can-do spirit, don’t let anything hold you back from pursuing a career as a general contractor. Take those necessary first steps and get your journey started because the world needs more hands-on leaders like you.

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