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Contractor Licensing

A contractor license is required by most states for building and construction professionals, and is a requirement for anyone interested in operating a contracting business. Becoming a licensed contractor can give one the ability to bid on profitable projects, become a respected member of the community, and run a professional building or construction company. Although a contractor license school is not required, it can help provide skills and knowledge necessary to pass the examination. Contractor licensing is available through each state's county board.

Job Description and Responsibilities for Those Who Obtain a Contractor License

Whether an individual attends a contractor license school, or pursues an educational program through a contractor license class, they will learn about various responsibilities and regulations involved with the state contractor license. Both the general and state contractor license allow the individual to:

  • Working with a team of licensed contractors
  • Set up a professional construction, building, or trade company
  • Bid on profitable projects
  • Work as an independent contractor
  • Legally file tax returns that allow for write-offs and other benefits
  • Become a recognized business in the community

Dangers of Contracting without a License

Contractor licensing is very important, and the conditions and regulations vary from state to state. Even if an individual has not attended a contractor license school, they are responsible for taking the examination and obtaining an official license before starting a project. If the individual chooses to work without a license, they may be involved with legal disputes and be sentenced to jail time.

Career Options With a Contractor License

Obtaining a contractors license offers many opportunities in the building, construction, and trade industries. The construction industry itself is divided into three main areas:

  • Heavy and civil engineering construction
  • Construction of buildings such as residential and commercial complexes
  • Specialty trades such as carpentry, electrical work, or plumbing

The nature of this type of work can be physically demanding, and many licensed contractors work more than 40 hours per week. Since work is completed by project, workers are often required to work outside of standard office hours or even seasonally. The risk of injury is relatively high, but the majority of career options include:

  • Building construction (residential and nonresidential)
  • Heavy and Civil Engineering construction (utility systems, highways, streets, land)
  • Specialty trade
  • Building equipment
  • Building finishing

Contractor License School Courses

A school can offer a formal setting for obtaining a contractors license, but a basic class can also be completed online. The key areas of study include:

  • Business organization
  • Construction law
  • Business operations
  • State regulations
  • General business management
  • Human relations

Contractor Licensing Requirements

All states have similar basic requirements for contractor licensing, and will require the following in order to take the examination:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (or legal residency)
  • Two passport-size photos
  • At least 18 years of age
  • A high school diploma (or equivalent)
  • Explanation of any citations or violations from construction work
  • Documentation of other occupational licenses held
  • Prequalification of all bidding work

Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

The demand for highly skilled and licensed contractors is high, and is expected to grow faster than average through 2014. With household growth, economic advances, and the increase of nonresidential construction throughout the country, many independent licensed contractor businesses can obtain employment relatively easily. The demand for specialized construction workers in particular is on the rise, and any experience through formal training can help in obtaining higher bids on projects.

With experience and a contractor license, an individual or business can develop a strong team of professionals and become a valuable resource in the community. Employment in specialty trades is expected to grow the fastest, and both opportunities and earning potential vary by industry. Average earnings for construction workers were $19.23 in 2004, and this can vary by the worker's education and experience. Related occupations include:

  • Carpenters

  • Construction laborers

  • Insulation workers

  • Painters

  • Construction managers

  • Brickmasons

  • Sheet metal workers

  • Roofers

  • Elevator installers and repairers

  • Construction equipment operators

  • Plasterers



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