An experienced general contractor can earn upwards of $90,000 per year. These workers also get to be their own boss and are free to focus on whatever aspects of construction they like doing most.

These are all reasons why becoming a general contractor could be the right career move for you. If you’re interested, then keep reading. We’ve highlighted the six steps that it takes to become a successful general contractor below.

1. Complete These Minimum Requirements

First, you’ll need to complete some basic eligibility requirements. These include having:

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A clean record
  • The ability to work legally in the USA
  • At least four years of journeyman-level experience over the previous ten years

One thing to note here is that some states will let you substitute training at a technical school or college for some of the four required years of experience.

For example, you might satisfy this requirement by completing a two-year degree program and having two years of journeyman-level work experience in the construction industry. But you’ll want to look into your state’s requirements for taking the contractor’s licensing exam to be sure.

2. Pass the Contractor’s Licensing Exam in Your State

The contractor’s licensing exam is the only major hurdle that stands between you and your goal of becoming a general contractor. Once you pass it, you’ll be free to start taking on jobs and growing your business. So it’s really important to study hard for the test.

The content on contractor licensing exams varies from state to state. But you’ll typically need to know the best practices for a wide variety of building topics, including:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Water conditioning
  • Fire protection
  • Resetting thermostats
  • General engineering
  • And more

If you plan on taking this soon, be sure to use study materials that are specific to your state. For example, you may learn the wrong information if you try to use Oregon study materials for an exam in New Jersey.

3. Create a Plan for Your Business

After you pass the contractor’s licensing exam, you’re ready to begin building your business. That starts by coming up with a business plan that will guide your efforts as you work to establish yourself in this new career.

A good business plan should include information about:

  • The kind of work you’ll pursue
  • How you’re going to find customers
  • What your expected costs and profits will be now and as you expand
  • Your unique value proposition and market analysis
  • Other information about the structure of your company

Protect Your Business with Insurance

At this stage of the process, it’s also important to begin looking for insurance for general contractors.

Construction is an accident-prone industry, and you need to keep yourself protected. Insurance helps you do that by giving you coverage for:

  • Workers’ compensation claims
  • Tools and equipment
  • General liability
  • Commercial property
  • And more

4. Reach out to Your Existing Network and Start Small

Now you’re ready to begin taking on your first clients and establishing your reputation as a solid contractor in your area. Instead of bidding on large projects right away, starting small is typically better. You can do that by leveraging your existing network.

Everyone needs construction help from time to time. So simply reaching out to your friends, former colleagues, and family and letting them know what you’re doing can help you land your first projects.

You’ll also likely want to establish your marketing strategy at this stage. Digital marketing is a powerful tool for attracting new clients. And the sooner you start, the sooner it will pay off.

That’s why it’s never too early to begin doing things like:

  • Getting active on social media
  • Creating a clean website
  • Building SEO content around local keywords
  • Starting an email list

5. Grow Your Business and Add People to Your Team

Your reputation will build as you take on more projects and continue delivering great results to your clients. When that happens, you can begin taking on larger projects, and you’ll likely need to grow your team as a result.

You may need to hire more than just construction workers to keep up with your workload. For example, at a certain point, it will make sense to hire office staff who can take phone calls, complete paperwork, and help you manage client relationships.

6. Continue Learning and Adapting

Finally, it’s important not to get too comfortable as a contractor. Instead, you should constantly be pushing yourself to continue picking up new skills and adapting your business to meet the modern customer’s needs.

If you began your contracting business with a specific focus, then you might also want to consider broadening that a bit as you build your expertise. Doing so should make achieving the long-term goals you’ve set for the business easier.