What Does a General Contractor Do?

In a nutshell, the average general contractor is hired to direct, manage, plan and organize all the subcontracting details that go into building a new home, office building or other structure. Other titles for general contractors are project managers, construction superintendents, construction supervisors, project engineers, or construction managers. Depending on the size of the project, the contractor may be hired to oversee the entire project, or one specific aspect of the overall construction.

Why Do We Need Them?

Most construction jobs are too large for one person to do on their own. That’s where the general contractor comes in. He organizes several contractors with various specialties to complete the entire project in a certain amount of time. For instance, one group of people is hired to lay flooring, another to install windows, an electrician comes to work on the power, and a plumber will install the pipes and fixtures. All these subcontractors answer to the general manager who’s in charge of the big picture plan!

What Skills Do They Acquire?

Besides a wide array of knowledge about construction materials and techniques, a general contractor also needs to have good, clear communication skills. The majority of their time is spent bidding on projects and negotiating work with the subcontractors who perform the work during the building process. They are also the go between for clients and subcontractors. If the client has a problem with the way something has been done, they go to the one who’s managing the project.

Are They Required to Have Completed Certain Levels of Education?

It depends on the type of work the contractor wants to manage. Many self-employed contractors can build a reputation for incredible work that stands on its own without being backed up by a bachelors or associates degree. A large amount of on-site experience is required to work your way up the ladder, but that can definitely be accomplished by a talented and determined individual. If the general contractor aspires to work with a large construction company, it’s within his best interest to get some formal schooling along with hands-on experience. Trade schools and community colleges offer a variety of classes in business skills, company management, financial planning, marketing strategies, and other subjects that round out the practical experience gained on the job site.

How Much Are They Paid?

Pay ranges vary widely based on the area in which the contractor has chosen to work, the size of the projects that he specializes in, the number of projects he completes in a year, and the over economic status of the nation. The mid-range amount that most ear in a year varies from a little over $60,500 to a little over $107,000. General the lowest pay rounds to about $47,000, and the most earned is almost $146,000. These statistics are based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics averages for May 2008.