Job Outlook for General Contractors

General Contractor: Job Outlook
& Career Requirements

Learn about what education general contractors need to get started. Also, get information on job skills, salary and career data, along with other employment options related to contracting.

Job Description for a General Contractor

A general contractor hires and organizes all necessary workers for a construction job. He or she also provides materials, obtains necessary permits, schedule inspections, complies with all building codes and sees the project through to completion. General contractors get hired by estimating how much a project will cost to build overall and offering that estimate in the form of a bid to the persons or company who are paying for the project. General contractors who work on very large scale projects, such as high-rise buildings or civil projects, typically work as managers rather than direct laborers. Those involved in smaller, residential buildings or remodels may also provide many hours of hands-on labor.

No formal requirement, degree in construction science recommended
Ability to read blueprints, understand construction basics and business management, supervision, mathematics, honesty
Median Salary (2015)* $87,400 (for all construction managers)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 5% (for all construction managers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

A general contractor may have learned his or her trade through a 2- or 4-year degree in construction science; however, no degree is necessary, and many general contractors began work as carpenters or skilled construction laborers. If contracting for more than minimal ‘handy-man’ type jobs, licensing is required in most states. Regulations vary but typically, obtaining a license requires that the applicant is over 18 years of age, has a current business license and can pass a contracting exam.

Job Skills

A general contractor should be able to read blueprints and understand the basics of construction. A general understanding of business management and the ability to supervise others will be necessary to work as a general contractor. Construction related math skills are needed to estimate time and materials. General contractors are often hired, or not, by their reputation so reliability and honesty are paramount.

Career and Economic Outlook

Because general contractors (often referred to as construction managers) are essentially small business owners, it is difficult to report an average income. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( projects that job opportunities for construction managers were expected to be average (5% increase) from 2014-2024, and, in 2015, placed the median annual income of general contractors at $87,400. Licensed construction managers have a greater earning capacity due to their ability to take on larger, more prestigious jobs and build a favorable reputation.

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