Before You Open A Contracting Business, You Must Be Licensed


All through your teenage years, maybe you were never one of the kids who dreamed of attending college and earning a degree. You were always the practical one who realized that your strength was in working with your hands in a skilled trade…

Getting Started in the Industry

Most jobs in the construction industry begin by attending an apprenticeship program. These programs consist of a combination of classroom instruction and working under a licensed professional in your chosen field. The advantage here is that you’re earning a living while you’re basically still in school. You have the opportunity to immediately apply what you’re learning in the classroom to your job. 

Once you complete your apprenticeship, you’ll be able to move into a full-time job. Here you’ll continue on your path of knowledge while your income increases with your years of experience. After you’ve worked in the field for a few years, you may begin to toy with the idea of becoming a contractor and opening your own business

The Dream of Running Your Own Business

Opening your own business is a huge decision. There are many factors to consider before you hang a sign on a wall. The general rule of opening a business is that it takes three to five years to begin to see a profit. Most successful entrepreneurs advise having a minimum of two years of savings equal to your household living expenses. This way you can continue to pay utilities and keep food on the table until you start to see your first profits. 

Know What Kind of License You Need

Prior to opening a construction business, you’ll want to research what sort of licensure you’ll need to obtain before you can advertise yourself as a contractor. These tests aren’t simple. You may wish to start out by using your non-working hours to study for them. By remaining in your place of employment while you study, you have the cushion of a regular income in case the process of studying and testing takes longer than you’d anticipated. 

The Exam Process

Many states require testing that has several phases. One will be on the statutes and rules governing contractors in your state. Then there’ll be a section on the general rules for contractors according to whether you will be operating as a residential contractor or in the commercial field. Then there is the phase that tests you on specific knowledge in your field. 

Some states require that you sit for two separate testing sessions. One for the statutes and rules, the other for the specific exam for your profession. The advantage to having the test divided into two separate sections is that you can target your study for each individual exam, rather than having to study for both on the same day. 

Studying On Your Own vs Getting Help

You can obtain the exam prep books and materials for studying on your own. This is a viable option for those who, maybe, are short on free time or are able to absorb large amounts of information on their own. There are online practice exams available. 

The other option is to go take a licensing exam prep course. The advantages to these programs include immediate access to educational classes for the different sections of the exam. These schools typically have the recommended exam preparation materials on hand, relieving you of the burden of having to go to bookstores looking for the prep books you’ll need. Exam prep schools offer assistance before and after the exam. If you’re someone who prefers to have an experienced shoulder to lean on while studying for the exams, this is probably the direction you want to go in. 

There is an additional option, which is attending college courses that prep you for the exam. The cost of attending these schools will probably be less than a professional exam prep school. However, the limitation is that you’ll need to be able to fit their class schedule into yours. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to run your own contracting business. It can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. You need to be realistic, however, and understand that you’ll have to complete the licensing process before you can fulfill your dream of advertising yourself as a contractor. 


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