Career Development

Contractor Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Contractors are the workers who do the jobs that allow other companies or organizations to get their work done. They do everything from fixing broken equipment to installing new equipment, painting walls to building walls, performing routine maintenance to solving basic problems with technology, etc.

Contractors are the workers who do the jobs that allow other companies or organizations to get their work done. They do everything from fixing broken equipment to installing new equipment, painting walls to building walls, performing routine maintenance to solving basic problems with technology, etc.

Contractors are often hired by other companies or organizations for specific projects—for example, they might be brought in to replace old windows or perform routine maintenance on an office building’s air conditioning system. More skilled contractors may also be hired for long-term positions; for example, an office may hire a contractor to manage its custodial staff and facilities on a full-time basis.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a contractor and what it takes to become one yourself.

Contractor Job Duties

A contractor is responsible for a wide range of duties, including:

  • Performing work such as electrical installation and repair, plumbing, flooring, painting and masonry, roofing, or carpentry
  • Analyzing client needs and building client relationships to determine the best solution
  • Creating a work schedule, including any subcontractor requirements and deadlines, and communicating with all parties involved to ensure that they are met
  • Keeping records of all materials used and labor costs associated with the project
  • Making sure the job site is safe and clean at all times
  • Communicating with clients throughout the project to update them on progress and address any issues that may arise
  • Possessing knowledge of all pertinent federal, state, and local codes applicable to the type of construction services they are providing

Contractor Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for contractors is $78,755. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the construction industry, and the highest earners of the profession are making over $144,000 per year.

Demand for contractors is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade. This demand will be driven by the growing need for infrastructure repair and construction as well as improvements in safety standards.

Contractor Job Requirements

Contractors usually need the following qualifications:

Education: Many employers require a high school diploma or GED. However, most employers prefer candidates who have completed some form of secondary education. There are associate’s degree programs in construction management available at vocational schools, community colleges and technical schools. These programs teach students the skills they need to perform tasks like estimating building materials, writing plans for construction sites, and ensuring workplace safety. Students also learn how to develop budgets, hire workers and design blueprints.

Training: Most of a candidate’s training happens on the job. This allows an employer to teach skills that are necessary for their business model. Many contractors will start their own training program by hiring an apprentice who works under them for two years before moving up to journeyman status. Contractors can also take workshops available through local chapters of trade associations.

Certifications: Some states may require contractors to hold a license. Contractors can also obtain industry certifications that improve their career prospects.

Contractor Skills

The following skills are required for this job:

Communication skills: You must be able to communicate with your clients in order to understand their needs and wants.

Organizational skills: You must be organized so that you can manage multiple projects at once.

Hand-eye coordination: It’s important to have steady hands when working with tools and equipment such as hammers, drills, and saws.

Physical strength: This is a physically demanding job that requires long hours and hard work.

Math skills: Math skills are useful for calculating material costs and ensuring that your bids are accurate.

Knowledge of safety procedures: Contractors must know how to follow safety procedures in order to avoid accidents on the job site.

Contractor Work Environment

Contractors work in a fast-paced environment, with deadlines and set goals. They often coordinate with other workers or work from home for long periods of time. At times, they may travel to meet customers and business partners as well as negotiate deals in person. 

Contractors often work outdoors while performing tasks such as laying bricks and painting homes. Construction jobs can be physically demanding and dirty. They often perform physical labor outdoors, in all types of weather conditions. They may work with heavy machinery and tools that pose safety hazards. 

Contractor Career Advancement

As a contractor, you can advance into a variety of positions. You could be promoted to general contractor if you have a few years of experience and a proven track record. You could become a project manager if you have a few more years of experience and want to work with larger projects. Or you could become a project specialist. This is a more specialized position that requires a lot of industry knowledge and expertise, so it is typically reserved for those who have been in the industry for years.

The great thing about being a contractor is that you can often pursue multiple opportunities at once. This means you can simultaneously work on one job while also looking for new jobs elsewhere. It’s important to be flexible so you can pursue the best opportunities.

Also, consider undergoing training for certifications that the company might require for the role. This shows that you are not only interested in learning, but that you are also willing to dedicate your time to the company.

Contractor Trends

Here are three trends influencing how Contractors work. Contractors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increased Demand for Maintenance Skills

Many contractors are moving towards higher-end home improvement projects, such as energy efficient windows and doors. This trend is leading to an increased demand for maintenance skills, which can be extremely valuable to homeowners who are looking to protect their investment in these products.

As customers look for more ways to save money on utility bills, they will turn to contractors with experience in energy efficiency products in order to help them find solutions that work best for their individual needs.

Freelance Services for All

One of the greatest emerging trends in contracting is that individuals are finding themselves needing the help of contractors more than ever before.

Businesses are finding that they can save money by hiring contractors to perform specialized tasks rather than hiring full-time employees to do the same work.

However, this trend also has led to increased demand for independent contractors who have already developed expertise in various areas. As a result, freelance professionals are taking on more clients and providing services at higher rates. 

Construction Projects on the Rise

Construction projects have been a major part of the U.S. economy for the past decade, and as new residential and commercial building projects begin to take shape, contractors will have a more important role than ever before.

In addition to being skilled at construction work, contractors also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients so that they can accurately assess the project’s timeline and cost estimates.

How to Become a Contractor

1. Planning Your Career Path

As a contractor, you have the freedom to choose which projects you want to work on and with whom. While this is a major benefit of the role, it also means that contractors must be willing to go above and beyond in order to attract new clients. However, as a result of this autonomy, it’s important to be aware of the risk involved in freelancing; self-employment often means no benefits or stability.

Contractors are also given the opportunity to take on more responsibility than they would have if they were permanent employees. While this can be exciting, it can also be overwhelming for some people. 

Because contractors work on short-term projects, they must make a positive impression on their clients; this means showing up on time, paying attention to detail, and finishing work within the agreed-upon timeframe. 

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for contractors should include the ability to work independently, communication skills, and attention to detail. It’s important to list the skills that you have that are directly relevant to the position you’re applying for as well as your experience with those skills. Include specific and measurable past results in areas such as cost savings, project deadlines, or service delivery. 

Emphasize your customer service abilities by including examples of how you handled challenges or complaints effectively. If you’ve managed specific teams or projects, be sure to list these responsibilities along with the results that you achieved. If there were any awards that you won for good performance at work, be sure to include them.

3. Applying for Jobs

When searching for jobs as a contractor, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. While you should absolutely check out traditional job boards and speak with recruiters, you can also approach your hunt in a unique way. You’ll want to look for opportunities with organizations that have connections to the industries you are interested in, as well as organizations that are looking for freelancers. Look for new startups that might need help setting up shop; many of them will be looking for someone with an eye for design and may be willing to pay you more than you’d make working for a more established company. 

4. Ace the Interview

In a contractor interview, you’ll need to be constantly aware of how you present yourself. Interviewers will want to know whether you have the experience you claim and what your potential contribution to the company will be. Your goal for this type of interview is to convey a strong understanding of the field, a high level of professionalism, and a commitment to quality work. 

To prepare for an interview as a contractor, you should research common job duties, industry standards, and different professions that are relevant to the position you’re seeking. The interviewer will want to know how well you communicate, both verbally and in writing. They’ll also want to know if you can work with a team or independently.

When interviewing you, hiring managers will likely ask about your day-to-day work life and your most recent projects. Bringing a portfolio with samples of your work is a good idea, especially if you have a lot of experience in a specific field.


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