Construction Contractor: Career Definition, Job Outlook, and Training Requirements

Explore the career requirements for a construction contractor. Get the facts about available training, job duties, and career outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Construction Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Construction Contractor Do?

Construction contractors oversee the logistics, planning, and management details of a building project. It is a construction manager's job to ensure operations run smoothly by taking care of behind the scenes business, such as budgeting, estimating costs, insuring the legality of work, hiring efficient workers, and more. Managers cooperate with many other construction-related specialists, such as architects, masons, carpenters, electricians, and more.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree recommended for better job opportunities
Education Field of Study Civil engineering; construction management
Key Responsibilities Hire sub-contractors, budget projects, obtain building permits, meet deadlines
Certification Available through the American Institute of Constructors or the Construction Management Association of America
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% (for construction managers)*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $97,510 (for construction managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Construction Contractor?

As a construction contractor, you may plan and direct all aspects of a construction project, including budgeting, design, and worker selection, as well as building permits, adherence to safety codes, and quality assurance. You may also specialize in and oversee the progress of a particular building task, such as plumbing, heating, or electrical wiring. You may or may not do any of the actual physical labor that goes into the construction, but you will typically work closely with construction staff.

Your work hours may be irregular, since you must be available at all times to resolve any sudden problems that may arise at the building site. An important part of your job is making sure that construction deadlines are met, despite possible delays due to bad weather or building emergencies. You may work on residential dwellings, commercial buildings, or infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, or schools.

What Is the Job Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2014, construction manager positions, including construction contractors, would grow by 5% through 2024 ( Favorable job prospects exist when there is an increasing diversity of construction activity as well as a need to replace professionals who've retired. However, the job market for construction workers is very reliant on the health of the overall economy, which might explain why the current outlook for construction managers is below the average for all careers. Most construction contractors own and operate their own businesses, while others work for local government agencies, engineering companies, or architectural firms. Earnings can vary by specialty, experience, and project size. The BLS reported the average annual salary of construction managers as $97,510 in May 2015.

What Are the Training Requirements?

You don't need to follow a fixed path to become a construction contractor. Some construction contractors begin as apprentices and rise through the ranks as they acquire skills, knowledge, and experience in the field. However, the BLS reported that it was becoming more common for employers to hire construction contractors who held a bachelor's degree in a relevant field.

As an aspiring construction contractor, you may help your chances of employment by completing a 4-year bachelor's degree program in civil engineering, construction management, or a related field. As a student, you can complete coursework in architecture, business, project planning, and construction materials. You will study safety standards, surveying, and structural analysis.

You may also seek the Certified Professional Constructor credential through the American Institute of Constructors or the Certified Construction Manager credential through the Construction Management Association of America. Both certifications have a combination of education and experience requirements.

What Are Some Related Careers?

Architects are one example of a related career with similar education requirements. Architects draw up the blueprints for different buildings that construction workers rely on. Civil engineers are responsible for planning and executing the different steps of construction projects. Cost estimators use their research and analysis skills to determine how much a specific construction project will likely cost to complete.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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