GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Skills, Roles, Licence Requirements & Salary

General contractor

Home improvement professionals specialize in a variety of areas. A handyman, for example, can change out your bathroom cupboards or replace the fixtures in your master bath to give it a new look. To improve the usefulness of the space, a plumbing subcontractor can construct the infrastructure for a new shower or jacuzzi tub. A general contractor, on the other hand, is the way to go if you’re entirely redoing the space—changing the layout and adding new pieces. Let’s take a look at the duties of a general contractor, as well as their salary and job outlook.

What is a General Contractor?

A general contractor is an entity that enters into the main contract with the property owner and is in the responsibility of overseeing a construction project.

When it comes to getting paid, the general contractor is frequently referred to as the direct contractor. We’ll explain why by first discussing what the terms “direct” and “prime” represent. A DIRECT CONTRACTOR is someone who contracts with and is hired directly by the property owner. The PRIME contractor is another name for this. This is determined by the person with whom the agreement is made, not by the nature of the job, the name of the company in question, or any other criteria.

In other words, if your construction company is working on a project or job and you were recruited directly by the property owner, you are the direct or prime contractor. A general contractor will always be a direct contractor. Direct contractors, on the other hand, do not always consider themselves to be “general” contractors.

There are numerous examples of construction firms that work as general contractors on some projects and contracts (when employed directly by the owner) while acting as subcontractors on others (when they are hired by someone other than the owner).

What Is the Role of a General Contractor?

The general contractors are in charge. They do, however, occasionally report to a construction manager. However, a general contractor may also serve as the construction manager in specific cases. We’ll get to that in a minute. For the time being, let’s get to the bottom of what this job entails.

General contractors are in charge of coordinating and managing all supplies, activities, and persons involved in a construction project at all stages of its lifetime. They’re a master in construction as well as a shrewd businessperson. To be excellent in their employment, they must be able to deal with a variety of people and colors within the confines of a budget.

A general contractor is responsible for hiring personnel, establishing supply chains, collecting and tracking tools and equipment, purchasing liability insurance, and maintaining up to date on construction codes, permitting processes, and other requirements. And all of this is before construction even begins. When that happens, a general contractor is responsible for administering the day-to-day operations of construction. They solve problems as they emerge, and guarantee everyone’s safety in the workplace.

Many of the intricacies of what a general contractor works from one day to the next are determined by the industry in which they work. Do they work as a residential or commercial general contractor?

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Residential contractors construct single-family homes, apartments, and housing developments.

Everything else is built by commercial contractors: offices, stores, restaurants, hospitals, recreational facilities, and so forth. Commercial construction projects are typically larger and more sophisticated than residential projects. Whichever path a general contractor chooses, logistics and management styles must be considered differently.

Finding work is an important aspect of the job. A general contractor must often deal with requests for proposals, also known as RFPs before they can begin construction. If a general contractor wants to work, they must respond to RFPs with what is known as a bid, unless they have been handpicked for the job. This is a proposal that details how much a contractor would charge for his or her time and labor. When preparing a bid, it is normal practice to engage with subcontractors and submit clarifying questions to the client. Knowing how to write a winning bid is a critical element of what a general contractor does.

What Is the Difference Between a General Contractor and a Construction Manager?

General contractors and construction managers are sometimes confused, and while there is some overlap, the two professions are not identical.

General contractors may also be called upon to execute the duties of a construction manager on occasion, but this is not always the case. When both positions are available, the general contractor is placed in the overall organizational structure between the construction manager and the rest of the workforce. In these circumstances, construction managers work more behind the scenes with the client and the project’s architectural and engineering teams, while the general contractor controls the construction site’s day-to-day operations. Consider the construction manager to be a general and the general contractor to be the commander in the field in this situation.

General contractors are typically the owners of their own construction companies, with dedicated teams of superintendents, foremen, and rank-and-file workers at their disposal. General contractors that specialize in specific forms of construction generally have established relationships with subcontractors and other specialists whom they may call on to undertake specific tasks over the course of a job. This touches on one of the most important aspects of a general contractor: the personal relationships they bring to the table.

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Many construction managers are self-employed individuals who are hired from the outside. It’s not uncommon for them to lead projects in cities or towns where they don’t live, managing people they’ve never met or worked with before.

General contractors, on the other hand, generally have extensive jobs with the majority, if not all, of the parties, engaged in a construction project. A general contractor’s trust and relationship with their employees, subcontractors, and other stakeholders over the years make them an invaluable asset to each job site they operate on.

When combined with years of experience and comprehensive process expertise, this social capital may make general contractors, particularly successful leaders, which is why they are occasionally handpicked to undertake the role of construction manager. In this situation, a general contractor would have far more say in the design process and would most likely avoid the bidding process entirely.

What Kinds of Skills Does a General Contractor Need?

Being a good general contractor necessitates strong organizational and managerial skills.

They must also have substantial knowledge and experience in the construction industry. A background as a carpenter or skilled artisan can help you gain this important perspective. Reading blueprints and planning documents is also necessary for transforming a building’s idea into a reality written in steel and concrete.

Communication is an important component of the job, as it is in any leadership position. Construction work is complex, and in order for a project to go successfully, general contractors must make that everyone involved is on the same page at all times. In this sense, they must not only know what they’re talking about but also how to talk about it based on who is across the table. Construction laborers and subcontractors, for example, require specific instructions on what tasks to prioritize and how to move from one stage of a project to the next.

They don’t need to be caught down in the details of material acquisitions or the politics of the bidding process. Those are the kinds of things you should talk about with your clients. Architects and engineers, on the other hand, don’t need to know the intricacies of inventory management and would gain more from having a shared understanding of a project’s design and structural standards.

To guarantee a safe and efficient work environment, a general contractor must not only have all of these conversations but also lead them and integrate them into a united whole. This necessitates the ability to fully listen to each team member as much as it necessitates the ability to talk to them.

General Contractor Salary

According to, at the highest end of the pay scale, general contractors with an established business can earn an annual base salary of $70,000 to $95,000. This equates to an hourly income of around $50 or a daily rate of $500 if broken down further.

Salary levels for entry-level positions begin at about $44,000 per year and rise with job growth and experience.

Many factors influence your salary as a general contractor, particularly the local economy or location in which you live. General contractors, for example, often receive greater wages in the United States’ Northeast region. When comparing general contractor salaries across locations, keep in mind that the cost of living in your area must be taken into account.

Finally, the size and complexity of your projects can have an impact on your salary. Large commercial projects that necessitate the management of more resources and teams typically pay more than smaller residential repair projects.

When compared to other construction jobs, the salary of a general contractor is quite high.

Construction service specialized roles often have lower average incomes, but they also have fewer management duties. Here’s how the typical general contractor salary compares to those in other occupations.

Salary of a Plumber vs a General contractor

Plumbers repair and install water and gas distribution pipes in residential and commercial facilities. A high school certificate or GED, a state plumbing license, and usually an apprenticeship under a master plumber are required to become a plumber. Plumbers earn a median annual salary of $53,910 or $25.92 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). On the higher end of the scale, the top 10% of plumbers make more than $90,000 per year.

Salary of an Electrician vs a General Contractor

Electricians plan, design, install and maintain electrical systems in various sorts of structures. Electricians, like plumbers, can earn more money with greater experience and certification. High school graduation or GED, as well as an apprenticeship to get your journeyman license, are required to pursue a career as an electrician. According to the BLS, the median electrician salary is $56,180 per year or $27.01 per hour. The highest-paid electricians can make more than $96,580 per year or $46.43 per hour.

Salary of a Construction Project Manager vs General Contractor

Construction project managers, often known as construction managers, work with project owners from the start of a project. They are typically hired for huge commercial projects. Construction managers, unlike general contractors, work collaboratively with the project owner and participate in the pre-construction design phase of projects. Construction managers supervise the work of subcontractors as the project begins.

Most businesses demand construction managers have a bachelor’s degree in addition to relevant professional experience. Engineering, construction management, and construction science are all common degrees. Although certification is not essential to operate as a construction manager, it is often advantageous. Construction managers earn an average of $93,370 per year, or $44.89 per hour, according to the BLS. Construction managers with the highest salaries make up to $161,510 per year or $77.65 per hour.

General Contractor Job Prospects

General contractors have a promising job outlook. Although not as impressive as wind turbine technicians or solar photovoltaic installers, being a general contractor is a good bet if you want a career with a more stable future than others. The entire job market for construction is predicted to rise by around 5% over the next decade, according to the BLS. This is slightly higher than the estimated rate for all other employees on the market, which is forecast to rise by around 4% over the same time period. Again, the situation is even brighter for general contractors who take on the responsibilities of a construction manager. This is an occupation that is predicted to rise by nearly 8% — or double the national average — between now and 2029.

What Kind of School Education Do do You Need for General Contractor?

The first step in starting a new career is to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications. Education is the first step. A general contractor must have a high school certificate at the very least. Some college education may be required, especially if you want to rise to work as a construction manager.

Becoming a general contractor may entail hands-on apprentice training under a professional trade, followed by promotion to business owner-operator once you’ve mastered your craft. General contractor school, on the other hand, can be rigorous, leading to an Associate’s Degree in Construction Management, a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management, or even a Master of Business Administration in Construction Project Management. Individual courses, an Associate’s Degree at a community college, or a Bachelor’s Degree at a university can all provide some of the necessary information and skills to accomplish the job well.

Accounting and business degrees, for example, would enable you to manage finances and staff, whilst engineering or architectural courses would provide you with a better understanding of all the parts involved in a construction project. Add a Master’s Degree in Construction Management to your resume, and you’ll be well on your way.

You’ll also require several years of experience working in the construction industry. This is essential for the following and most vital step: obtaining a license. Each state has distinct standards for a license, ranging from years of experience to passing competency exams and having liability insurance.

How Do I Get A General Contractor’s License in Texas?

Applicants must pass an exam, receive insurance, and fill out a license application form in order to be licensed. Applicants must first submit their application and complete the remaining prerequisites, after which they will be contacted to take the exam.

General Contractor FAQ’s

What is considered general contracting?

The word “general contracting” refers to the supervision work performed by a general contractor (GC). This person is in charge of supervising and constructing a project that was developed by someone else. The general contractor is also the primary point of contact for the clients.

How do you become a licensed contractor?

In order to receive a license, you must first:

  • Display proof of insurance.
  • Display evidence of a Surety Bond.
  • Financial statements must be provided.
  • Show documentation of 4 years of job experience in a similar subject within the last 10 years.
  • Pass trade, commercial, and legal examinations.

What is a certified contractor?

Certified contractors, often known as construction managers, are in charge of overseeing a wide range of projects and workers, as well as organizing construction and employing subcontractors. They must receive licenses to demonstrate their understanding of legal concerns pertaining to the construction sector.

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