If you want to be competitive as a contractor, you need to make sure that you are meeting not only minimum requirements but also the highest qualifications as well.
But a lot goes into becoming a highly qualified contractor, though. There may be license requirements, exams, experience requirements, and other elements to consider. The whole process can quickly become confusing and overwhelming.
To help you on your journey to become a qualified contractor, here are 7 important facts you need to keep in mind along the way.
7 Important Things to Know About Becoming a Qualified Contractor
- You Need Experience This is true for numerous reasons. First of all, some may be under the misconception that all they need to do is complete some exams and earn a license in order to become a contractor.
However, this is simply not true. Many states that require a license require previous experience in relevant fields in order to earn that license in the first place.
Furthermore, it should be obvious that simple paper qualifications do not make you a truly qualified contractor. Regardless of what type of paper qualifications and studying you do, gaining relevant experience under another contractor first is vital.
- Every State Has Its Own Requirements
Another common misconception is that earning a license and qualifications in one state qualifies you for working in other states as well. This simply is not true. Even if you earn your license in one state, you will still have to meet another state’s qualifications in order to work there, even for a short-term project.Furthermore, one state’s requirements may be very lenient, perhaps not even requiring an examination, while another state’s requirements may be strenuous and extensive. Do your research, and if you plan to practice in multiple states, prepare to pursue a license in each one.
- You May Have to Take an Exam
As indicated above, many states will require you to take an exam in order to be licensed in that state. For example, if you wish to get or renew your license in Virginia, you will be required to both take a contractor basic business course and pass the mandatory sections of the state’s exam for contractors.There are many resources that can help you study for your specific state’s exam, so be sure to take advantage of them and prepare accordingly.
- There Are Some Basic Requirements That Apply Nationwide
Regardless of what state you want to practice in, however, you will need to satisfy all of the following basic requirements:
- You must be a citizen of the United States or have a legal residency status
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must have earned a high school diploma or an equivalent
- As stated above, you must have relevant experience
- Justification of any violations, liens or citations from previous construction projects you have completed
- You will most likely have to take and pass a criminal background check
- Know Your Specialty (or Specialties)
There are an incredible number of fields and specialties to pursue contractor’s qualifications for. It will make it easier on you to reflect on what you enjoy most and do best and pursue qualification for those niches.
However, if you are interested in handling a wide variety of jobs, you can pursue a general contractor’s license.
- Know About Classifications
Again, every state has its own rules for how contractors are qualified and licensed. In many states, in addition to needing a license, you may also need to choose what class of license to pursue.In some states the classification is determined by the type of work you wish to do, while in others it is based on the monetary value of the work done. For example, one state may define a Class A license as a license for General Engineering and a Class B license as a license for General Building. But another state might define a Class A license as qualified to work on jobs of any price value and a Class B license as being restricted to projects of $250,000 or less.
Make sure you educate yourself on your target states license classifications and put careful thought into what classification you want. Keep in mind that once you choose earn your license, many states prohibit you from taking work that falls under a different classification.
- Final Details
Finally, before you can become a fully-fledged contractor, before you can even take the examination typically, you will need to register your business with the relevant state and local governing powers.
You will need to have a name selected that has not already been incorporated by someone else, and if you intend to have employees, you will also need to get an employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service.