From national parks to freshwater lakes, Montana is filled with natural beauty everywhere you go. Since there’s a lot of surface area in the great State of Montana, one of its most lucrative industries is construction.
If you have an interest in pursuing a hands-on management role in the construction industry, you may want to consider general contracting.
General contractors oversee construction sites from start to finish, ranging from administration to labor. Particularly, if you’re interested in obtaining a general contractor’s license in Montana, you will need to both register and apply through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry as a construction contractor or independent contractor.
In this guide, we’ll share the details of what it takes to become a general contractor and how you can get licensed in Montana. At OnePointe Solutions, have worked with numerous general contractors across the country to provide them with high-quality laboratory cabinets, commercial casework, and industrial furniture for their various jobs and projects.
Job Description: General Contractor
Before considering the role of a general contractor, it’s important to know what they do on a daily basis. General contractors manage construction projects and handle the entire process from beginning to end.
Before taking on a new job site, general contractors have to apply for a detailed bid. To compile a bid, general contractors collaborate with construction estimators to create itemized lists of all possible costs including materials, tools, equipment, labor, and more.
First, you must be familiar with the bidding cycle before anticipating possible issues during a project that may require additional financing. If a bid is accepted, general contractors then coordinate scheduling, purchase and rent materials, and hire subcontractors.
As a trusted manufacturer for over a decade, our experiences with general contractors are second to none with getting the job done. For example, with referencing a bid, let’s say one was created and accepted for a dental lab.
For this kind of field, we have a plethora of options to choose from. We can manufacture and provide laboratory casework including metal cabinets, stainless steel cabinets, anti-microbial cabinets, medical cabinets, and more as well.
We can also create custom-durable workstations and lab tables for daily tasks and testing. In addition, we also carry a range of lab chairs for comfortability and ergonomic support and various laboratory worksurface options to aid in the efficiency of the workspace, not to hinder it.
Virtually no matter the project, we can help.
Coming back to a general contractor’s work preferences, some general contractors choose to work on-site during a project’s entirety, while some hire on-site managers to oversee daily tasks. Regardless, a general contractor must monitor the safety and efficiency of a construction site.
General contractors are in charge of the following:
- Crew safety
- Equipment and site safety
- Permits and street closures
- Anticipating weather conditions and scheduling accordingly
- Enforcing quality and safety standards
Special Skills & Qualifications
Each state has specific qualifications and licensing requirements for general contracting, but some special skills will be beneficial in any industry. Special skills are typically innate, but it’s also possible to learn them as you get more experience in the construction industry.
Some special skills and qualifications all general contractors need to meet include:
- Ability to read building plans and blueprints
- Building/construction skills
- Excellent time management and organizational skills
- Attention to detail
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Budget and purchasing experience
- Comfortable working with new people
- Able to learn quickly and in stressful situations
- Concern for the wellbeing of others and a touch of perfectionism
Qualifications to Become a General Contractor in Montana
In Montana, anyone who wants to become a general contractor must apply as a construction contractor or independent contractor through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. There’s only one registration form for both processes.
However, a business license, tax registration, and workers’ compensation insurance are still required.
There are no formal education requirements for general contractors in Montana. Many successful general contractors do not have college degrees, but typically you must be over the age of 18 and have a high school degree or equivalent. Once you hit those requirements, you can apply for entry-level positions in construction.
Generally, it’s important to get initial exposure when pursuing a career as a general contractor. Because general contractors manage every step of the building process, they also need to account for potential obstacles on a job site. Some of the best general contractors get plenty of entry-level experience in as many areas of construction as possible before diving into work on a project.
The more experience you can get in the construction world, the better.
Montana offers two main licenses for general contractors through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry:
- Construction Contractors License: a contractor or subcontractor with employees or part of a business entity
- Independent Contractors License: a contractor who independently owns a business and has elected to not cover themselves under Montana’s Workers’ Compensation policy; an exemption certificate is also required for this license
The registration and application process for both licenses are done through the same form, but there are additional requirements for an independent contractor’s license. Additionally, both licenses are valid for two years and must be renewed following expiration. See below for further information.
While licenses for construction contractors and independent contractors require the same form, there are slight differences in requirements.
For a construction contractor’s license, you must register and obtain a business license through the Montana secretary of state website, provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance if you manage employees, and complete and submit the application.
To apply for an independent contractor’s license, you must prove that you have your own business, either get an independent contractor exemption certificate or a self-elected workers’ compensation insurance policy and submit the application and waiver form.
Exams are not required in the State of Montana for either general contracting license. Neither is proof of experience.
However, specialty trade licenses, such as electrical and plumbing, may require exams and additional fees. For an electrical license, visit the Montana State Electrical Board website for the application, scheduling, location, and fee information.
For a plumber’s license, you must go through the Montana Board of Plumbers for more information.
Whether or not you have employees, you must provide proof of a business license if applying for both general contractor’s licenses in Montana. More specifically, for a construction contractor’s license, you will also need proof of workers’ compensation.
Since you already have to obtain a workers’ compensation exemption certificate with an independent contractors license, you will submit your certificate along with the registration and application form.
No matter what, you will need the required permits and paperwork to place a bid or perform any kind of contract work in Montana. For business registration, please visit the Montana Secretary of State website.
Montana state law doesn’t require a surety bond, but some federal and independent clients might. To acquire a surety bond, contact an authorized bonding company. Surety bonds will present an additional cost.
Once you are licensed, the special projects you manage will often require added expenses and require insurance. Just like surety bonds, liability insurance will carry a premium.
Also, if you are handling a business entity and have employees, you need to obtain a workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Montana General Contractor Licensing Fee Overview
All applicants in the State of Montana can expect the following fees for licensing and registration, depending on which license you apply for:
- Montana Construction Contractors application fee – $70
- Montana Independent Contractor fee – $125
Fees can be paid by credit card (Visa, Discover, MasterCard, American Express, or eCheck, specifically) through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry online payment page.
Alternatively, payment can be sent via money order or check to:
Montana Department of Labor & Industry
PO Box 8011
Helena, MT 59604
Average Montana General Contractor Salary & Benefits
There are plenty of construction opportunities for general contractors seeking work in Montana. If you become a licensed general contractor, you can expect to make $111,138 or $53 per hour.
This is 9% lower than the national average. An entry-level general contractor in Montana may earn an average salary of $77,561.
A senior-level general contractor in Montana earns an average salary of $138,163.
The Path to Become a General Contractor in Montana
Do you predict a future as a general contractor in Montana? Let’s review the following path to kickstart your career:
1. Complete Basic Education
Obtain a high school degree or focus on getting a GED. Once you complete basic education, you can begin applying and registering for any job in construction.
2. Work In Construction
Give yourself ample exposure to the construction industry by making connections and applying to relevant jobs. The more you get hands-on experience in construction, the sooner you’ll understand the ins and outs of the industry. Additionally, you’ll be extremely prepared when it comes time to apply for a contracting license.
3. Register Your Business
Begin the application process by registering and obtaining your business license through the Montana secretary of state website, or proving that you already own an independently established business. These requirements depend on which of the two licenses, construction contractors or independent contractors, applies to you.
To learn more about starting a general contracting business, check out our guide below:
4. Prove Workers’ Compensation
If you manage employees, you must get workers’ compensation insurance. If you’re independent, however, you can get insurance coverage with a self-elected workers’ compensation insurance policy or apply for an independent contractor exemption certificate. All required paperwork must be included with your registration and application form.
5. Pay Necessary Fees
The application fee for construction contractors is $70. The fee for the independent contractor application is $125. If applying for additional specialty trade licenses, bear in mind that there may be additional requirements, including exams and fees.
6. Prepare Financial Documents
All Montana businesses must register for tax ID numbers and licenses or permits. This includes income tax withholding, sales, and use tax, and unemployment insurance tax. You will discover further information on the Montana Department of Revenue, Business Tax Express website.
7. Submit Application
Now that you’ve determined which license applies to you, compiled all the necessary paperwork, and paid the necessary fees, you’re ready to submit your completed application. Again, you may pay fees by credit card (Visa, Discover, MasterCard, American Express, or eCheck, specifically) through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry online payment page.
Alternatively, you can send payment via money order or check to:
Montana Department of Labor & Industry
PO Box 8011
Helena, MT 59604