Breaking into the construction industry as a general contractor can be a rewarding and lucrative career choice. By overseeing construction projects, managing subcontractors, and ensuring that work is being completed to a high standard, there is a lot of responsibility but also a great sense of satisfaction. However, starting your journey as a general contractor has its challenges. In this article, we will dive into the essential aspects of becoming a successful general contractor and provide you with valuable guidance along the way.

Education and Experience

Despite the fact that there is no specific educational requirement to become a general contractor, a strong background in construction is crucial. Earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management, civil engineering, or a related field can serve as a solid foundation for your career. Not only will these degrees provide you with valuable knowledge, but they will also give you an advantage over others when competing for contracts and projects.

However, education alone won’t guarantee success as a general contractor. You will need hands-on experience in the industry to understand how the various aspects of construction projects come together and to develop your leadership skills. Experience can come in the form of internships, apprenticeships, or even working as a laborer on construction sites. Each opportunity will enable you to develop a firm understanding of the processes involved in construction projects and build upon the knowledge gained from your education.

Licensing and Insurance


As a general contractor, having a valid license is necessary to operate legally in most states and municipalities. This licensing process typically involves completing an application, taking a business and law exam, and maintaining good financial standing. Keep in mind that these requirements vary from state to state, so it’s important to research and comply with the specific licensing requirements for your area.

One essential consideration for contractors is obtaining the appropriate insurance coverage, such as insurance for general contractors. This type of insurance ensures coverage for various instances including property damage, personal injury claims, and workers’ compensation. It is important to prioritize safeguarding your business and investment through insurance to reduce the risks of potential liabilities and financial setbacks.

Business Management Skills

While having strong construction skills is essential, as a general contractor, you also need to possess a strong understanding of business management. Successfully running your own contracting business demands a wide range of skills, from marketing and networking to bookkeeping and documentation. Cultivating these skills—either through formal education or self-guided learning—will help to ensure the success of your business.

One key area of business management that contractors should pay close attention to is contract compliance. This involves ensuring that all contractual requirements are being met by your subcontractors and that you are fulfilling your obligations towards your clients as well. By carefully tracking and managing contract compliance, you minimize the risk of potential miscommunications, conflicts, or legal disputes with your clients or subcontractors.

Customer Service and Reputation Building


One of the most important factors contributing to the success of any business is the quality of its customer service. As a general contractor, you need to maintain a high level of professionalism and strong communication skills when dealing with clients, subcontractors, and suppliers. By being responsive, reliable, and organized, you will foster a positive rapport with everyone you work with and create a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Honesty and transparency are key components of building trust and credibility among your clients and subcontractors. Being clear about your expectations and the project’s progress will help you avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts down the line. Clients appreciate being kept in the loop, so make sure you are consistently providing them with updates and any relevant information about the project.

Overall, becoming a successful general contractor demands a strong foundation in both construction knowledge and business management. By combining education, experience, proper licensing, insurance, business management skills, and exceptional customer service, you will have all the necessary tools to build a flourishing career in general contracting.