Many people enjoy repairing things around the home. Some even enjoy building or renovating parts of the home. While for some, this may simply be a nice escape from the daily responsibilities of life, others may enjoy turning these skills into a career. If you or your partner have considered working as a general contractor, this guide is for you. We’ll answer a few common questions that aspiring contractors often have about licensing and how to decide if it’s the right career move for you.

What Does a General Contractor Do?

General contractors make repairs. They also complete household renovations, including updating floors, installing drywall, or building new home additions. The role of a general contractor is very hands-on. Workers spend a lot of time on-site at the job, often for many weeks or months.

Some general contractors take on a supervisor or management role, meaning they oversee other contractors and help move the project toward completion. A lead general contractor may ensure a residential or commercial project stays on track regarding budget and timeline.

How Do I Become a Contractor?

Becoming a contractor requires a few steps. The first is to decide if a career as a contractor is right for you. Once you decide you’re ready to pursue a career as a general contractor, you’ll need to choose a prep class. By taking a Tennessee contractor’s license exam prep class, you can expect to learn everything you need to know to work in the industry, including business and law classes. It’s important to take this class seriously and put in the required hours because this is what will prepare you for the required state exam.

After completing your exam, you’ll need to register for your state’s licensing exam. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors oversees licensing and exams, but this will vary depending on what state you want to work in. Most states also require licensed contractors to complete a background check and work under an experienced contractor for a specific period. This ensures that all state contractors have the skills and training to safely complete projects.

Is a Tennessee Contractor License Right for You?

If you want to work on construction projects in Tennessee, then a contractor license may be right for you. Hands-on laborers who want to work on larger-scale projects in Tennessee require a contractor license. The project size that requires a license varies from state to state but is usually around a minimum of $25,000. 

Tennessee contractors, for example, must hold a valid contractor’s license before working on a construction project with a value that exceeds $25,000. It’s important to note that this requirement also includes the cost of materials and labor. Most general contractors find that the majority of projects quickly meet this threshold.

It’s also important to note that all construction projects in Tennessee that involve plumbing or electrical work require a valid contractor’s license. The licensing requirements may vary in other states, but most require something similar. General contractors who plan to complete specialized work in HVAC, roofing, electrical, or mechanical will want to seek a specialized license, too. Roofing work in Tennessee also requires a specialized license.

What Contractor License Do I Need?

You’ll want to choose a license that matches your career goals as a contractor. For example, contractors only planning to work on small projects may find a Residential Small Commercial Contractor license suitable. This license allows you to work on residential projects valued at up to $1.5 million. Residential/Commercial/Industrial contractor licenses allow you to bid on any valued project spanning residential, commercial, or industrial industries.

General contractors who want to complete specialized work also require certain licenses, such as the Electrical Contractor License or the Limited Electrical License. Carefully researching the license types and what they allow is the best way to choose the right option for your career goals.

What Is the Contractor License Exam?

The Tennessee contractor license exam is what tests a person’s ability to work as a general contractor. All aspiring Tennessee contractors must successfully complete the contractor’s license exam, plus any specialties for certain trade areas.

In addition to the industry-specific exam, Tennessee requires all new license applicants to complete the Tennessee Business and Law exam. A thorough understanding of these requirements is a must so you can choose the right pre-licensing class. The exam itself is a 100-question multiple-choice exam, and test-takers have two hours to complete it.

The licensing exam isn’t the only step toward becoming a contractor in Tennessee. Contractors must also submit proof of insurance, a financial statement, and their applications.

Working as a contractor offers good job stability and unlimited earnings. However, before you can work as a general contractor, you’ll have to successfully complete your state’s licensure exam. A licensing prep class helps you study and prepare for this important exam. Once you achieve your license, you can bid and work on a variety of residential and commercial projects.