Learning what it takes to be a licensed contractor or the equivalent in your state can be intimidating, and that’s the real-world application stuff. What about the school itself? Some people go straight for the licensing exam without any formal training, and that can lead to stress and a high rate of failure. So much so that many opt out and never get their license at all. It’s more than just an expensive exam; it’s tough.
But having a license or not can affect more than your earnings. It can send you whole career on one path instead of another. A license or the equivalent gives you options that aren’t possible without it, and the right education makes earning your license a lot more attainable.
Types of Construction Education Programs
Not every state licenses contractors, but most have something similar, such as a licensed construction supervisor. For many men and women, getting there means finding a great construction education program. The level of difficulty depends on which program you choose.
Like many other educational paths, you can take an associate’s, bachelor’s or even a master’s program in contracting, construction, construction management or something similar. Which one you choose depends on how deep you want to go. Study.com says an associate’s or bachelor’s is the most desirable level.
Most programs cover areas such as safety codes, project management, construction materials and methods and cost estimation and design. Generally, an associate’s program will cover the same areas, just to a much less concentrated degree than a bachelor’s or master’s program. And in some cases, a master’s is overkill. That’s about 5 to 7 total years of study.
Another difference between associate-level programs and those at a higher level is the type of additional education that’s required. To earn a bachelor’s or higher at a university, you’ll have the same core coursework as any degree. At Columbia University, for example, those include writing, foreign language, humanities and several others.
Contractor-Specific or Trade Programs
A popular way to earn construction and contracting education is through an online program. Like a trade college, many of these programs focus only on what you need for the industry, and many can lead to an associate’s or even a bachelor’s degree. They often incorporate the latest advances and are designed and taught by people with real world experience.
One of the greatest benefits of online education is that you can study on your own time, which means you don’t have to quit your day job to go to college. That makes education more attainable for more people. Many of these programs are more affordable than a brick-and-mortar college, too.
Because contracting is such a hands-on field, getting your formal education online isn’t as potentially challenging as it could in some career paths. You still need your field experience to be an effective contractor, and field work plus online school can give you a well-rounded approach.
Whether or not contractor school is difficult really depends on which direction you take and your determination to succeed. If you have a head for math, for example, cost estimation shouldn’t be difficult. And if you already have managerial skills, project management might not be too challenging. But if you don’t, you’ll need more study time to master what you’re learning. The same applies to any of the courses that you’ll take.
Licensing exams for the construction industry are famously difficult, and many people take them more than once before succeeding. That’s the real reason why prior education is so important. You just can’t take one of these exams cold and hope to pass, not unless you have a lot of years already in the industry. The required knowledge, such as specific building code regs, is too broad for a layman to know without studying it first.
Education isn’t over once you get your license. Continuing education helps you keep it, and PDH Contractor’s Academy has the courses that you’ll need. Browse our courses by state to see what to expect.