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Contracting Advice: Tips on How to Become a Professional Contractor

by Louise W. Rice

Do you have a passion for building and fixing things? If so, becoming a contractor is probably a trade that would suit you well.

Whether you’re already taking on small side-jobs, or you’d like to eventually quit your day job to become a full-time contractor and work at your own pace, getting into the full swing of the contractor business isn’t as difficult as some people might think. As long as you have a smart head for business and can produce quality work, you’re already ahead of the game.

Running a business and creating a brand for yourself, however, takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you’ve never done anything of the sort before. But, we all have to start somewhere.

If you’d like to turn your passion for fixing and building things into a full-time lucrative career, the following tutorial will assist you. Here, we’ll illustrate a few steps you can take to get into the contracting game.

Get Licensed

To become a contractor, you have to have some type of experience. In most cases, years of work-related experience and know-how will be all that you need in order to get started on your own. However, in some states, a certificate or proof of higher education is required depending on the nature of work you’re planning on doing.

In any case, each state has a different set of requirements and a licensing process. In order to legally operate and perform work, you have to have a valid state-certified contractor’s license.

To find out the particulars on how to get licensed and what type of training is required, you should contact your state’s bureau of labor or any government body that handles licensing.

In most states, you’ll have to show proof of several items. These can include but are not limited to the following list:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of surety bond
  • Proof of education or work experience over a specific time period
  • Show proof of work performed
  • Proof of passing test scores

The items required for obtaining a license vary widely from state to state, though licenses are generally required to perform work that exceeds a certain monetary value. For example, if you bid on a 50,000 dollar job or higher, chances are you’ll need a contractor’s license.

Get Proper Equipment

When just starting out, many contractors begin work using tools that they already own, as well as their own personal vehicle to get from job to job. The only problem here is that you never know what tools will be needed until you get into a job and start working.

Here, it’s vital that you acquire the proper tools. And, while it might be tempting to use your old faithful hunting truck, you might need a bit more power for hauling materials and equipment.

Instead of putting undue wear and tear on your personal vehicle, consider renting a work truck for your contracting business.

With this option, you won’t have to worry about maintenance or upkeep on the vehicle, as you can do your work then return the truck. As long as you don’t damage the vehicle, there will be no out-of-pocket expense other than renting the truck.

Many beginning contractors find renting a work truck to be an attractive option, as this allows them to look professional and have reliable transportation to the job site.

Build Relationships

One of your most critical business tools is going to be your ability to get out into the community and mingle.

In the world of contracting, you have to be able to build professional relationships with others in your industry. For example, let’s say that you specialize in building driveways, foundations, and the like. You’re also going to want to build relationships with plumbers, construction workers, and electricians in order to assist you with getting your name out into the community.

Last but not least, and perhaps the most important, is your ability to create a professional appearance and build relationships with your clientele. Your customers are going to be the key to helping you get other jobs.

Word of mouth plays a huge role in job creation, and unless you’re planning to be a lone wolf and apple-pick the low-hanging fruit, jobs will be hard to find unless you build quality relationships with everyone you come across.

At the end of the day, you want to represent yourself in the best possible light. Creating professional connections and producing quality work are the best paths to success in this field.

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