Georgia offers nearly year-round temperate weather, gorgeous landscapes, and vibrant culture, and if you are looking for a job as a general contractor, Georgia has plenty of construction opportunities, too. Working as a general contractor can be a lucrative career, and in Georgia, many GCs are able to work at any time of year while taking time off for themselves and their families at their convenience.
In Georgia, real estate is constantly growing, and many people have begun migrating to the state for investment opportunities. Because of this, construction is always plentiful in Georgia, making this an ideal home for construction professionals like general contractors.
Requirements to become a licensed general contractor in the state of Georgia are slightly more rigorous than in surrounding states, but the thorough licensing process also has the benefit of making Georgia contractors highly competitive and in demand. While the path to becoming a general contractor in Georgia may be slightly longer than in other states, the process is fairly straightforward.
Anyone that performs work as a contractor on projects greater than $2,500 must be licensed through the Georgia State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors. The state of Georgia offers contractors four licenses to choose from:
- General Contractor License: development, remodeling, or any other contracting duties on residential or commercial projects of unlimited size or cost
- Limited Tier General Contractor License: development, remodeling, or any other contracting duties on residential or commercial projects up to $500,000
- Residential Basic Contractor License: development, remodeling, or any other contracting duties on residential homes no larger than two-family or townhouse dwellings
- Residential Light Contractor License: development, remodeling, or any other contracting duties on multi-family and multi-residential properties
Since the process for obtaining each of these licenses is nearly the same, we will be focusing primarily on the general contractor license which allows contractors to work on commercial and residential projects of any size. In this guide, we will explain everything that you’ll need to qualify for your contractor’s license, and share how you can get started on the path to becoming a general contractor in Georgia.
Job Description: General Contractor
Wondering if you might enjoy a job as a general contractor? General contractors must enjoy management positions, be highly knowledgeable in various areas of construction, and must have the ability to communicate with different types of people including clients, municipal public employees, and subcontractors.
As a general contractor, you will be in charge of overseeing construction projects from start to finish, which requires a high degree of organization, patience, problem-solving, and experience.
Working as a general contractor means stepping between various roles to keep projects on track. Often the first step of a project is to earn the contract, which means creating a competitive bid for the client to consider.
General contractors work with construction estimators to assess the proposed building to create an itemized list of all anticipated costs including materials, equipment, labor, permits, and more. General contractors need to be familiar with every step of the construction process to accurately estimate the cost of the project since the goal is to present a competitive bid without under-estimating cost.
If the client accepts the bid, the general contractor can move on to organizing the beginning of the project including hiring subcontractors, securing permits, assessing the building site, and purchasing materials and equipment.
At OnePointe Solutions, we have been a go-to manufacturer for general contractors in Georgia and other states in the U.S. for commercial cabinets, industrial furniture, and laboratory furniture alike. For instance, since Georgia is a buzz for real estate projects, if you have a project that falls in that realm, we can provide you with plastic laminate cabinets, commercial work surfaces (i.e solid surface, maple block), and even custom tables and seating solutions as well for your job needs.
General contractors also work on-site to oversee the process of building, both to ensure everything runs smoothly and according to plan and to manage the safety of workers on-site.
To summarize, 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
Keep reading to learn more about specific requirements for Georgia general contractors, but first: let’s talk about those skills that can’t be taught. All general contractors need to have skills related to work ethic, management, working with others, and staying level-headed during the stress of the job. No matter where you work as a general contractor, having the following skills will help you in your career:
- 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 Georgia
Georgia offers general contractors four licenses to choose from:
- General Contractor License: unlimited size and price – residential and commercial
- Limited Tier General Contractor License: projects up to $500,000 – residential and commercial
- Residential Basic Contractor License: residential projects no larger than two-family or townhouse dwellings
- Residential Light Contractor License: residential projects on multi-family and multi-residential properties
The licensing process is practically the same for each of these licenses, and the same process can be used for both individuals and business entities. If you are applying as an independent general contractor, you do not need to register a business before beginning to bid on projects. Here’s what you’ll need to qualify for a general contractor license:
Georgia is one of the few states where general contractors are required to provide proof of education, but if you don’t want to attend a university or trade school, there are still ways of qualifying – which we will cover below.
First and foremost, you will need to graduate from high school or obtain a GED before you can begin any steps to become a general contractor. After completing your basic schooling, Georgia asks that you complete ONE of these education requirements before applying for your license:
- A four-year degree from an accredited college or university in a relevant field. i.e. engineering, architecture, or project management or,
- College-level academic credits that are equivalent to four years of formal schooling
If you choose option A, you will also need to provide proof of at least one year of relevant work experience employed by a licensed contractor. During the application process, you will be asked to provide proof of your education in the form of a diploma, certificate, or formal transcripts in a sealed envelope from an accredited institution.
Remember, if you choose to attend a four-year program from an accredited college or university, you will also need to have at least one year of professional experience working for a licensed general contractor. If you do not want to go to school, you can still qualify for a general contractor’s license by providing proof of at least four years of relevant work experience. Within those four years, at least two must be under the supervision of a licensed general contractor, and one must be in the fields of engineering, administration, supervision, project management, account, or marketing.
To begin the Georgia general contractor license process, you can sign up and download the application via the Georgia Secretary of State website. You will need to download and thoroughly look through the application before you begin to formally apply since you will need to have all of your information ready to go to be considered. Once you are prepared to submit your application and all special documentation, you will need to fill out the full application packet and mail it to the Georgia State Licensing Board for consideration. (More details below – keep reading!)
In addition to your application, you will need to submit a variety of documents including proof of education, proof of experience, and an application fee. These documents also need to be mailed to the Georgia State Licensing Board.
All applicants must also provide proof of general liability insurance and worker’s compensation up to $500,000, depending on the license type.
- General Contractor License: $500,000
- Limited Tier General Contractor License: $500,000
- Residential Basic Contractor License: $300,000
- Residential Light Contractor License: $500,000
The final requirement you must meet to be approved for a Georgia general contractor license is to pass the Business and Law exam. Applicants can register for the exam online. Once your application materials have been received by the State Licensing Board, they will notify PSI of your eligibility to take the test, and you will be notified of your test date.
If you own a business, your final step before beginning work as a licensed general contractor will be to complete your business registration and all related tax obligations. Once this is complete, you can begin submitting project bids throughout the state of Georgia.
Georgia General Contractor Licensing Fee Overview
The fees associated with applying for a Georgia general contractor’s license are relatively minimal, other than the proof of insurance payments. In total, the application process costs only $200, which covers application processing.
Average Georgia General Contractor Salary & Benefits
Contractors in Georgia make more than 20% more than the national average, with most averaging around $70,000-$150,000 annually.
The Path To Become A General Contractor In Georgia
Now that we have covered the details of what you will need to do to become a general contractor in Georgia, it’s time for you to start the application process. Here is an overview of the path you will take and the order in which you will need to complete the application process:
1. Complete Your Education
In Georgia, you must be able to provide proof of education or equivalent experience before being considered eligible for a general contractor license. Individuals interested in pursuing a career as a general contractor can choose one of three paths:
- Earn a four-year degree from an accredited university in a relevant field; gain one year of professional experience
- Prove that you have taken relevant college-level courses
- Go from high school (or earn a GED) to working professionally under a licensed contractor
2. Get Experience in Construction & Management
If you choose not to pursue a college education, you will need to fulfill four years of professional experience before you can apply for a license. Getting experience is also necessary to be a successful contractor, so see this as an opportunity to gain skill rather than a step to overcome.
3. Purchase Insurance
Once you have completed your education and experience, you will need to purchase workers’ compensation and general liability insurance up to $500,000.
4. Complete the Application
Download and complete the application for your chosen license. Be sure to review details carefully and to include all requested information and documentation.
5. Pay Fees
Before you mail your application to the Georgia State Licensing Board, be sure to write a check or request a money order for $200. This covers the application and processing fee and should be included in your application.
6. Mail a Sealed Envelope to Licensing Board
Once you have gathered all of your application materials, you can assemble and mail your application. In the envelope you send to the Licensing Board, you should include:
- Sealed transcripts/copies of diplomas
- Completed application packet
- Copies of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance
- Application fee of $200
All materials should be mailed together in a large envelope to:
State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors
General Contractor Division
237 Coliseum Drive
Macon, GA 31217
7. Pass Exam
After mailing your application to the Board, you can sign up for the Business and Law exam via PSI. The Board will contact PSI to notify them of your eligibility, and you will subsequently be notified of your testing date. Once you pass this exam, you are a licensed general contractor with the state of Georgia and can begin submitting project bids.