Disclaimer Note: The content in is blog is just for informational purposes ONLY. We ARE NOT licensed, certified, or a party/entity to provide licensing. Please refer to your state’s board on current processes for where and how to get your license.
From the mountainous majesty of its western half to the beautiful beaches along its eastern coast, Virginia is as amazing as it is varied. With hot summers and chilly winters, it’s one of the milder states—not quite as warm as Florida, but not as freezing cold as up north.
Coupled with a thriving economy, this climate makes Virginia an ideal location to put down roots, which means that contractors are in high demand! At OnePointe Solutions, we’ve worked alongside general contractors from across the nation to provide them with custom, modern solutions to everyday projects and jobs.
In order to become a contractor in Virginia, you’ll have to deal with the state’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR).
Job Description: General Contractor
Regardless of where you work, the job of a general contractor will always remain the same. A general contractor’s job begins with the client’s vision.
From simple interior tweaks to full remodels, contractors, handle a bit of everything.
In the early stages of a project, a contractor can expect to spend much of their time as a mediator. Negotiations will need to be made with designers, craftspeople, construction companies, and regulatory agencies.
In addition to proposing changes or improvements to existing plans, a general contractor will also be involved in the nitty-gritty of estimating total costs.
Once everything is approved and the construction begins, a general contractor will oversee the project’s completion. An eye for perfection is beneficial for any contractor, as this stage will be marked by close monitoring of workmanship and workers.
For this article, let’s say a project was approved for an electrical lab and the general contractor reached out to us for the required furniture.
Here, we would design and manufacture ESD workbenches or custom worktables to aid in the processes of the lab without hindering or affecting them. In addition, we would supply the facility with lab cabinets to house equipment and tools.
We carry a vast selection including metal cabinets, stainless steel cabinets, phenolic resin cabinets, and even custom! For lab countertops and work surfaces, we would supply epoxy resin, phenolic resin, and/or ESD laminate depending on the scope of the job.
Last but not least, we would supply ESD lab chairs or seating as well to not interfere with the quality of work yet to give personnel comfort and support while working. At OnePointe Solutions, we are your one-stop-shop for your projects and bids.
In addition to managing the quality of the work, a general contractor must also oversee the safety of their workers.
At a project’s conclusion, a contractor will clean up and make it look as if they were never there, to begin with. All told, they’ll end up wearing many different hats—too many to list in a simple article.
However, some of the most common facets of their job will include:
- Reading, interpreting, and editing blueprints
- Negotiating with others
- Managing schedules
- Overseeing quality and safety
- Planning material delivery
- Estimating costs and labor
- Planning for and adapting to deadlines
- Handling paperwork
Special Skills & Qualifications
It may be obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning that you can’t become a general contractor overnight! There are a variety of practical, professional skills you’ll need to possess or learn in order to be a proper contractor.
Some of these skills include:
- Ability to read and understand blueprints
- Negotiation and bargaining
- Time management and organization
- Knowledge of construction standards and jargon
- Understanding of modern safety procedures
- Budgeting and spending skills
- Ability to work under high pressure
Qualifications to Become a General Contractor in Virginia
The state of Virginia offers three major categories of general contracting licensure: A, B, and C. Each of these classes is entitled to work on different projects based upon their monetary value.
- Class A holders can work on projects of and exceeding a total cost of $120,000. Another qualifier for this class is if the project exceeds $750,000 in expenses over 12 months.
- Class B contractors are slightly more restricted. Projects both below and within the price range of $10,000–$120,000 are available to this class. Projects with a value of $150,000 or more can also be completed by Class B holders if expenses do not exceed $750,000 or more in a single year.
- Class C contractors have the most restrictions. Over 12 months, a Class C holder’s project must not exceed $150,000 in cost; alternatively, projects can fall within the overall price range of $1,000–$10,000.
Virginia also offers the ability to get a specialty added to your license. While adding a specialty is not required, it entitles you to work on additional aspects of the project as an individual.
(If you plan to open your own company, you will need to obtain certain classifications or hire others who hold the 17 requisite classifications.)
Education & Exams
While you are not required to hold a degree, Virginia contractors are required to meet certain educational requirements. All applicants, regardless of their chosen class, must complete an 8-hour course.
This class covers basic business topics and construction knowledge.
In addition to attending the course, all applicants must complete and pass the relevant exam. The exam is broken into three sections, each of which covers a different topic.
Anyone interested in obtaining a Class A license must complete all three portions; Class B and Class C only need to pass the first two sections.
- Part 1 covers state-specific knowledge, including legal information and environmental concerns.
- Part 2 tests general construction knowledge. Topics in this portion include safety, management, and labor laws.
- Part 3, which is only required for Class A applicants, is classified as the advanced section. A mixture of legal concerns, finances, and safety can be found in this portion of the exam.
Exams may be taken both in-person and online in Virginia.
How much experience you will need before obtaining a license will vary. The highest level of licensure, Class A, requires more experience than the lowest level, Class C.
The minimum amount of experience you will need to have is 2 years. In the state of Virginia, experience is defined as on-site work.
A prospective contractor will need to verify their experience through an employer or overseer. As such, the most experience will be obtained through paid employment.
While you can have experience from outside sources, such as volunteer work or personal projects, this is far harder to verify and will severely prolong the time it takes for your application to be approved.
- Class A: 5 years
- Class B: 3 years
- Class C: 2 years
Insurance & Documentation
When submitting your application for a license, you will need to include a variety of documents and information. A full list of the required documents can be found on the DPOR website.
In addition to this documentation, all Class A or Class B applicants must include either a financial statement or a surety bond form.
Virginia General Contractor Fees Overview
Excluding the cost of the class and insurance, the price to become a contractor in Virginia is only a few hundred dollars. Each application has a different fee attached to it, and the price of the test should be factored in as well.
The exam fee is paid each time you take the exam, regardless of the results. The overall cost to become a contractor will be higher should you fail the exam.
Due to its structure, applicants can pay less to skip later portions of the contractor’s exam. For Class B and C applicants, who only have to pass the first two sections, this is a handy and cost-effective feature of Virginia’s testing setup.
- Class A: $470 ($385 application + $85 exam)
- Class B: $442 ($370 application + $72 exam)
- Class C: $307 ($235 + $72 exam)
If you apply as a business, there will be additional fees. These include application fees for your business as well as the cost to finance and insure your new endeavor.
Average Virginia Contractor Salary & Benefits
As a growing and stable career path, working as a contractor reaps a variety of insurance and lifestyle benefits. Financially speaking, annual compensation ranges from $27,000–$98,000.
The pay depends on a variety of variables, including which projects you work on and how you are paid. Self-employed contractors can and do make just as much as contractors working for a pre-existing company.
The largest factors that determine your overall pay are experience, license class, and project scale. Individuals with a Class A or B license will make more than Class C license holders, as they can take on larger and more expensive projects.
Similarly, a proven contractor with an impressive portfolio will demand more than a freshly licensed contractor.
The Path to Become a General Contractor in Virginia
Virginia is one of the more complex states to obtain a license in, but the process is still straightforward. Individuals registering as a business owner will have more steps and details to work out than applicants working with a pre-existing company.
1. Obtain Experience
Before beginning the application process, you’ll need to have records of on-site experience. This ranges from 2–5 years depending on the level of license you want to obtain.
2. Complete Education & Exam
In addition to the required education and exams, it’s worth knowing that there is a fee for applying for a specialty. Each specialty on your license requires its own exam and a $110 fee.
3. Obtain Documents
In addition to documentation, business owners also need to obtain proof of insurance and worker’s compensation for each employed worker. Class A and Class B applicants also need financial statements or surety forms.
4. Mail Application
Virginia does not offer a virtual submission system. Instead, all of these documents and forms must be printed and sealed inside a large envelope and mailed to:
Board for Contractors
Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation
9960 Mayland Drive, Ste. 400
Richmond, VA 23233
Payment must be included as part of your application packet. While the simplest methods are cash and check, you may also pay via credit or debit card by using a special form.
Keep in mind that none of the DPOR Boards, including the Board for Contractors, accept American Express cards.
Need Help with Your Project?
If you’re a general contractor in Virginia or another state in the U.S., we can help you with upcoming projects and bids you may have. If you need ESD workbenches, phenolic resin countertops, chemical epoxy tops, or lab chairs for an upcoming job, give us a call at (866) 222-7494 to speak with a project consultant or fill out our online contact form today.