General Contractor

A general contractor often hires out portions or all of the construction work to subcontractors who specialize in plumbing, electrical or carpentry. For small jobs or repairs, the general contractor may do the work himself. No matter who actually completes the construction, the general contractor is ultimately responsible for meeting deadlines and the quality of the work.

The majority of general contractors are self-employed, running their own businesses, so they not only need education in construction, they also benefit from business degrees. A recommended educational path for a general contractor is as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree in construction technology, civil engineering, construction management
  • MBA or Master of Business Administration
  • Pass state examination for general contractors

Most states have laws regarding the examination and licensing of general contractors, but the requirements vary from state to state.

General Contractor Job Description

General contractors manage every component of a construction job. They earn the bid and sign off on the contract specifying timeframes and payment. General contractors hire employees and subcontractors. They decide on methods of construction, order the materials, establish a budget and develop a project schedule.

With large contracts, general contractors are accountable for the livelihood of many other people. They’re ultimately responsible for each aspect of the job, having to regularly oversee the work of many different tradesmen. Depending on the job size, a general contractor may perform any of the following duties:

  • Bid on jobs.
  • Negotiate contracts.
  • Hire employees and specialized subcontractors.
  • Establish a job budget.
  • Develop a schedule for completion.
  • Order building materials.
  • Read blue prints.
  • Oversee the different types of work being completed including construction, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and painting.
  • Ensure that all work is completed properly and on time.

Strong communication and organizational skills greatly benefit a general contractor. Delegation, management and problem solving are other abilities needed by anyone considering this field.

General Contractor Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction earnings are higher than average compared to all other industries. Although a very necessary occupation, the construction industry may be hard hit during times of recession. With many general contractors operating as self-employed or business owners, salaries vary a great deal. The size of the contract, the type of work and the availability of projects all contribute to overall profit.

General contractors make from $75,000 to over $160,000 annually, as noted on Some general contractors receive bonuses when the job is completed early, which are not included in salary range. Establishing a solid reputation based on keeping contracts allows general contractors to charge more and ultimately make greater profits.

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