Last updated on August 31st, 2023 at 12:30 pm
Have you always enjoyed making repairs or completing renovation projects? Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or your family and friends often turn to you for your handyman skills, these same hobbies can be turned into a profitable career. We have created a guide to help you explore your career options and turn your home repair or renovation hobbies into a successful business.
Table of Contents
What Is a General Contractor?
A general contractor is a person who manages or oversees a construction project. Some general contractors work with residential property owners, helping them complete projects like installing hardwood floors or making minor plumbing repairs. Some general contractors may choose to work with commercial property owners planning shopping centers or restaurant builds.
Of course, it’s important to note that the specific projects that a general contractor works on depend on the state. Different states have varying requirements for what they can and can’t do. In North Carolina, you’re required to have a General Contractor license if you work on repair or renovation projects with a value that exceeds $30,000.
What Does a General Contractor Do?
General contractors complete a wide range of repair and renovation projects, including installing and repairing drywall, building decks, finishing flooring, and fixing leaks. The tasks that general contractors can and can’t complete varies, depending on the license and the state in which you work.
Generally, general contractors aren’t allowed to complete in-depth projects requiring specialized skills, including electrical or plumbing. Repairs or installations that involve structure or foundation changes are also usually outside of a general contractor’s scope of work.
How To Become a General Contractor
If you’re ready to turn your handyman skills into a profitable career, consider the following steps:
- Evaluate your career goals: Before preparing for the state licensure exam, you’ll need to decide which test is right for your career goals. North Carolina offers two exams: the NASCLA and the state trade exam. Regardless of which exam you take, you’ll also have to complete the NC business and law exam.
- Sign up for a pre-licensing course: A pre-licensing course provides you with the tools and guidance you need to prepare for the test. Make sure you choose a course that covers each of the required areas and supplies you with the resources you need to understand these topics in-depth. Even better, North Carolina allows the use of some books while taking the test.
- Apply to take the exam: North Carolina and most other states do require that you apply to take the exam. This ensures that you have completed all experience and educational requirements before registering.
- Take the exam: The exam includes between 40-115 questions, depending on which one you’re taking. As the test can be difficult, investing in exam prep for the NC General Contractor license process can be incredibly helpful.
- Ensure you meet all other requirements: In addition to the experience requirements, the state also requires all general contractors to demonstrate a minimum working capital, net worth, or surety bonds. Some contractors may use a Surety Broker to cover the construction bond requirements.
Keep in mind that licensing requirements may vary by state. However, the NC general contractor license requirements are similar to what you can expect, with some variations in the number of hours of experience. Different states may also have varying requirements on who’s required to become licensed versus not.
Can North Carolina License Holders Work in Other States?
Most states require general contractors to receive licensure from that state. However, some states offer reciprocity agreements, meaning you don’t have to complete the exam if you’re licensed in another state.
North Carolina practices license reciprocity. You’ll still need to apply for licensure, but you can skip the state exam to obtain licensure in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi, once you successfully complete all the requirements in North Carolina. The NASCLA exam is also recognized by many states, meaning you can use it to skip the trade exam.
After completing all requirements, you can begin working and earning a salary as a licensed contractor. Most states require that you complete continuing education requirements to maintain your license, but you can do this through the same school where you prepare for the state exam. Continuing education typically covers updated state laws. Contractors can also choose a few elective courses that best match their career interests and goals.
Those with repair and renovation skills can earn a good living while working as general contractors. Before you can work with residential or commercial property owners, you’ll have to study for and successfully complete the state exam. Choosing the right pre-licensing class can help you gather the knowledge you need to earn your license.