Getting your contractor’s license is the first step in your career as a contractor. The demand for contractors is expected to increase, and it is a great paying job, so it’s an awesome career choice for veterans. There are many different routes you can take once you get your contractor’s license, but the first step is pivotal.
Here’s what you need to know about getting your contractor’s license
What Contractors Do
In a nutshell, contractors manage the overall planning of various types of construction, then ensure that planning comes to fruition by facilitating the process to completion. Whether it’s something relatively small, such as adding to an existing home, or something larger like putting up an entirely new building, contractors are trained to handle many kinds of projects. That’s one reason why veterans are able to snap into the building contractor mindset so readily, because vets are adept at tackling an assortment of jobs in all shapes and sizes. Flexibility is crucial in the contracting industry.
That said, many contractors specialize in a specific niche, or type of construction. And some are “freelance” or self-employed, while others run their own business with employees on their payroll. Most tend to work for an existing company, though, and that’s usually the best way to break into the trade, especially if you want to learn the ropes and garner experience and training as an apprentice tradesman first.
Contractor, Tradesman, or Both?
As an unlicensed tradesman, you can expect to work under the tutelage of an expert in the field, and should maximize the opportunity to learn all you can from them. Ask questions of your supervisor, and take vocational classes to enrich your knowledge of your chosen area so that one day, you’ll be the expert…and earn that bigger paycheck!
In fact, to really top out your potential pay scale, once you decide on the area you most prefer, go ahead and enroll in an undergraduate degree program. It’s worth the investment in time and effort (and yes, tuition!) to earn a Bachelor’s in Construction Management with an emphasis on whatever focus you desire. If you already have an undergrad degree, see what the requirements are for a master’s. You may have to take a few prerequisite engineering or math courses to catch up, but again, in terms of salary potential, it could certainly be worth the effort in the long run.
But if going to college (or back to college) just isn’t your thing, then at least plan on some trade school courses to learn about such relevant topics as: construction materials, methodology, estimates, schedules, measurements, surveying, design, contracts, and human resource management. There’s a lot to learn, but don’t be put off by that fact. Just think about how good you are at your current job, then recall how little you knew about it when you first started!
Not all contractors are tradesmen. General contractors have a license issued by their state. But they also usually earn more money, in part because they carry a greater responsibility, have a deeper knowledge of building codes and laws, must understand about bidding, site visits, project management, and have the ability to get the material and necessary equipment on scene. They also manage the people involved in a project.
Getting Your Contractor’s License
It can get confusing, but the Small Business Administration offers a useful website to lay out which licenses and permits one needs to work in their respective state and county. To obtain a specific license, you’ll first need to pass the applicable exam. For instance, you can expect to be tested on topics related to business management. So for a business management test, expect questions on contracts, safety, bidding practices, taxes, labor issues, etc.
Since each state may have different criteria for their various permits and licenses, it’s hard to cover all the requirements for getting these. Some places ask that you have a certain number of years of experience in order to get a license. Others will demand that you show proof of your insurance coverage, or demonstrate your understanding of your field via a written exam. You could even be asked to provide character references! So there’s a lot of variables that come into play when it comes to contracting, but again, the Small Business Administration site helps clarify and break things down.
But just to offer a specific example, here’s some information about Florida contractor’s license requirements:
First off, they offer two different types – certified contractor and registered contractor. If you’re certified, it means you can work anywhere in the state, whereas registered contractors can only work in specific counties once they register a competency card and occupational license.
Both types are required to carry Workers’ Compensation, Liability, and Property Damage Insurance, unless they are eligible for some exemption. Both types also need to show their credit reports, and prove that they have no liens or judgments. Proving financial stability is also a part of getting either license.
But if one wishes to pursue the more lucrative certified license, then they also must have at least four years experience (and one of those years must have been as a supervisor). This experience is required to be validated by a state Certified Contractor, or other licensed individual in the field, such as an engineer. Lastly, they must take and pass the Florida Certified Contractors Examination.
So that’s an example of how veterans who want to become contractors might do so in the State of Florida. You can view a full list of state requirements at HomeAdvisor.
Companies Hiring for Contractor Positions
AECOM: AECOM is built to deliver a better world. They design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries.
SBA Communications: SBA Communications Corporation (SBA) is a leading independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure across North, Central and South America.
EATON: Eaton is a power management company with 2017 sales of $20.4 billion. We provide energy-efficient solutions that help our customers effectively manage electrical, hydraulic and mechanical power more efficiently, safely and sustainably.
Kaiser Permanente has existed to provide high-quality, affordable healthcare services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We are America’s leading nonprofit integrated health plan and serve nearly 10 million people from 38 hospitals and more than 600 medical office buildings.
*Companies listed in this article are paid advertisers.