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Mechanical Contractor vs. General Contractor: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A contractor is a professional who manages construction projects and is responsible for the overall coordination of a project. There are different types of contractors, each with their own area of expertise. In this article, we compare the job titles of mechanical contractor and general contractor, and we discuss the similarities and differences between the two. We also provide an overview of what each type of contractor does and the skills they need to succeed.

What is a Mechanical Contractor?

A Mechanical Contractor is a professional who specializes in the installation, maintenance, and repair of mechanical systems. These systems can include HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), plumbing, and refrigeration. Mechanical Contractors often work in commercial or industrial settings, but they may also work in residential settings. They may be self-employed or work for a contracting company. Some Mechanical Contractors may specialize in a particular type of mechanical system, while others may be more generalists. In either case, they must be able to troubleshoot problems and complete repairs in a timely and efficient manner.

What is a General Contractor?

A General Contractor is a professional who is responsible for the overall coordination of a construction project. They hire and supervise subcontractors who complete specialized tasks, such as electrical work or plumbing. General Contractors also negotiate contracts with these subcontractors and purchase materials. They are responsible for the budget and schedule of the construction project, and they must make sure that the project is completed within the budget and timeline. General Contractors also resolve any issues that arise during the construction process.

Mechanical Contractor vs. General Contractor

Here are the main differences between a mechanical contractor and a general contractor.

Job Duties

General contractors and mechanical contractors have different duties because they work on different parts of buildings. A general contractor oversees the construction process as a whole, while a mechanical contractor focuses on one aspect of building functionality. For example, a mechanical contractor might design an HVAC system for a building and then install and repair it once the building is complete. Mechanical contractors don’t typically perform these tasks during the building’s construction.

A general contractor might hire subcontractors to complete jobs that involve both design and implementation, like electrical or plumbing. They also might handle minor repairs after a building is complete, like replacing siding or painting walls. General contractors often perform these duties after the initial construction period ends.

Job Requirements

A mechanical contractor is a type of construction worker who specializes in installing and repairing systems that provide heating, cooling, ventilation, refrigeration and water to buildings. To become a mechanical contractor, you need to complete an apprenticeship program or earn a degree from a vocational school or community college. Some states also require mechanical contractors to be licensed.

A general contractor is a type of construction worker who oversees the entire construction process for a building project. General contractors typically have experience working as carpenters, masons, electricians or plumbers. They may also have a degree in construction management or a related field. Some states require general contractors to be licensed.

Work Environment

Mechanical contractors work in a variety of environments, depending on the project. They may travel to construction sites and work outdoors or indoors. General contractors typically work in an office setting where they manage their employees and communicate with clients. Some general contractors also have jobs that require them to travel to job sites.

Mechanical contractors often work long hours and weekends to complete projects on time. This can include overtime during regular business hours and working holidays. Mechanical contractors who work for large companies may receive benefits like health insurance and paid vacation days.


There are several similarities between mechanical contractors and general contractors in terms of the skills they use on the job. Both types of contractors need to be able to read and interpret blueprints, as well as have a strong understanding of construction methods and materials. They also both need to be able to manage workers and projects effectively, as well as have strong problem-solving skills.

However, there are some differences in the specific skills that each type of contractor uses. Mechanical contractors, as their name suggests, focus on mechanical systems such as plumbing, heating, and air conditioning. As a result, they need to have a strong understanding of how these systems work and be able to troubleshoot problems effectively. General contractors, on the other hand, oversee all aspects of construction projects, from start to finish. This means that they need to be able to coordinate different teams of workers, as well as have a good understanding of all construction trades.


Mechanical contractors can earn an average salary of $69,723 per year, while general contractors can earn an average salary of $69,149 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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