If you’re thinking of striking out on your own and becoming a contractor, you could be on your way to what could become an extremely profitable career. A contractor is responsible for the oversight of a building project or for a specific portion of the work. There are several different types of contractors who work in the construction and building industries, so knowing which type of contractor you want to be is the first step. Following are some things and general tools and tips to keep in mind as you begin your contractor career.

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The construction industry is interesting because it’s full of so many different types of professionals and businesses operating in unison to complete a project. From the general contractor to the electrician and from the plumber to the carpenter, each person has their own specialized knowledge that they can contribute towards making sure the build is completed on time and looks great when it’s finished.

General Contractor

A general contractor is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the entire construction project from start to finish. In addition to managing the construction site, they are also responsible for hiring and supervising subcontractors, ordering materials, and ensuring that the project stays on schedule and within budget. The general contractor will have a cadre of general tools of the trade.

Specialty Contractor

A specialty contractor is a type of contractor that focuses on a specific trade or skill set. For example, an electrician is a type of specialty contractor. Specialty contractors usually have more experience and training than general contractors, and they’re often better equipped to handle complex projects. Specialty contractors will have tile tools, general tools, or any tools related to what they do on the job.


A subcontractor is a type of contractor that is hired by a general contractor to complete a specific task or portion of a construction project. Subcontractors are usually specialized in a particular trade, such as HVAC, electrical work, or plumbing. In some cases, a subcontractor may be responsible for the entire project, while in other cases they may only be responsible for their specific trade.

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Acquire Educational Skills

To become a contractor, make sure that you have the educational and skill level required to do the work. Some jobs may require you to have a degree from a trade school or even a college. Your local Department of Labor may also have information available regarding how to get these certifications online. Common certifications include HVAC, electrician, and general construction. Make sure that you’re aware of and fully educated on all the tools of your trade from tile tools to paving tools.

Obtain Real-World Experience.

The first step to becoming a contractor is finding work. Many trade schools offer programs that will give you the opportunity to get job experience as you are learning at the same time. You could also investigate apprenticeship programs or consider working as a helper for an established contractor. Once you have some experience, you should have the knowledge that you need to start your own business.

Target Large Companies

To increase your chances of getting work as a contractor, it’s helpful to target larger companies. They are usually the ones with the budget and staff to outsource projects, and they often have contracts with several small businesses, which means they are always on the lookout for new talent. Turn yourself into an invaluable asset for those companies. Keep in mind that there is a limited amount of time that any given project has before it becomes outdated or unprofitable. Showing up late or taking an overly long time might be less frustrating for you but it’s not going to endear you to anyone at the company, so stick to your word and keep a tight eye on deadlines.

Pursue Mentorship

You could also seek out a mentor in the contracting industry. That person will be someone who has already been through the contracting process and can help guide you through it. They can answer your questions, give you advice, and help you avoid making mistakes. You may even want to apprentice under them so that you can see how they work and run their business.

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Hire Carefully

Whether you’re a general contractor, a specialist, or a subcontractor, you’ll be responsible for hiring people to work with you to complete your work. Make sure that you hire responsible, skilled people that you can rely on to show up on time and do the work properly. This will help build your reputation as a contractor. Potential clients will know that you can be relied on to do excellent work and will complete the project on time. That is a priceless reputation to have, and it can keep you booked out for months in advance.

Obtain Insurance

Contractors are required to carry specific types of insurance when they work on jobs. This insurance can help protect them from liability. The types of insurance needed will depend on the work being delivered, but some types of insurance include commercial general liability insurance, workers’ compensation, and builders’ risk insurance. This is a critical part of the process and something you need to handle before the job even begins so that you don’t put yourself, your workers, and your business at risk.

Market Your Business

Before you can even think about becoming a contractor, you need to make sure you have a strong online presence to market your business. This means having an up-to-date website that showcases your work, as well as active social media accounts. You should also have a portfolio of your previous work that you can show potential clients. Once you have all of this in place, you can start reaching out to potential clients and letting them know you’re available for hire. Be sure to ask your clients for references that you can post on your site so that people can see examples of your completed work. Becoming a contractor is a great move. By taking note of the above steps, you should be well on your way to becoming one of the most sought-after contractors in town!

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