Posted by: Kaplan Real Estate Education
Updated: January 15, 2019
Are you thinking of entering the field of residential or commercial contracting? Entering a new profession—any profession—is a difficult decision. Whether you have years of experience in the construction industry or are new to the field, there are a number of items to think about as you take the steps to become a contractor. You should clearly understand not only what that new profession will be like, but the best path to success for you in that profession.
Identify What You Do Not Know Yet
Most people who enter the contracting profession have some experience that they can leverage and other areas they are less familiar with. Perhaps they were a carpenter, but do not know the accounting very well. Or they know current electrical installation practices, but not how to develop a price estimate. Also, if you have never been in business before, then you might need additional training in specialized areas such as business management, marketing, or public speaking. Identifying your areas of weakness and outlining a plan to improve your knowledge base and skill set is key in becoming a successful contractor.
Plan for Success as a Licensed Contractor
If you were going to build a house, would you only use materials that barely met the code requirements, or when it made sense would you use some materials that exceeded the code requirements? In most states, contractors are licensed professionals who must pass a licensing exam and obtain pre-licensing education. Remember these education requirements are minimum standards so you are not legally dangerous. If you want to succeed as a contractor you should probably consider exceeding these requirements when it makes sense.
Obtain Necessary Contractor Licenses and Certifications.
The certification requirements for contractors vary by state, but many require licensure in an area of specialization, such as residential or commercial construction, or an area of specialty, such as plumbing or electrical work. Those interested in becoming contractors should check with their state licensing organizations. Choose the educational path that works for your current situation. Some people want to learn as much as they can as quickly as they can. Others cannot take time off from their existing job. Fortunately there are many options from hands-on classroom courses, to online courses and correspondence courses.
For example, the Minnesota contractor and remodeler license program requires each business entity to obtain a contractor or remodeler’s license. Each business entity must designate a “qualifying person” to obtain a contractor or remodeler license. The qualifying person to become licensed must complete the written Residential Contractor Licensing Exam. To learn more about how to get your contractors license, visit our How to Obtain a Contractor License page.
To obtain a Minnesota Residential Building Contractor License, you must pass both the Minnesota Business and Law Exam and the Minnesota Residential Building Contractor Exam. The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions on each of the two topics for a total of 100 questions. The Business and Law Exam covers Minnesota laws and business practices. The Residential Building Contractor Exam is an in-depth exam about construction techniques and building code requirements. To learn more about the Minnesota Residential Contractor Exam, visit our About the Exam page.
To learn more about becoming a contractor in Minnesota, visit our Minnesota Contractor Licensing landing page.