So, you want to be a Louisiana general contractor? You're in luck. Commercial general contractors in Louisiana earn around $115,000 a year, and residential contractors earn a significantly higher than average salary across the state.
However, there are some barriers to entry for newly licensed contractors. Fortunately, we can help get you started! Let's talk about how to become a general contractor in Louisiana.
What Does a General Contractor in Louisiana Do?
To understand the path to becoming a general contractor, it's important to understand exactly what the job entails. The exam and licensing standards will reflect these responsibilities, including:
- Create detailed plans based on the client's vision
- Create cost estimates for projects
- Oversee construction sites
- Find the correct building materials for the right price
- Organize labor contracts
- Manage a project budget
- Create construction schedules and timelines
- Communicate with clients regarding updates
- Ensure project compliance with the law
Overall, general contractors are construction professionals that oversee projects as a whole. These professionals manage the day-to-day operations of a project and help to coordinate every aspect of the job, including outsourcing work to other trained professionals (electricians, plumbers, etc.).
Also, general contractors in different positions may have entirely different responsibilities. Another key distinction is general contractors with commercial or residential licenses, as they will work with entirely different equipment, regulations, clients, budgets, and business practices.
Who Needs a General Contractor License in Louisiana?
If you plan to advance in the construction field, a general contractor license can help you. For example, the Residential Contractor license is required by the state of Louisiana to build a fixed structure three stories or less where the cost is $75,000 or more. The building must be used by others as a residence, including duplexes, three-unit, and four-unit homes.
For work on projects larger than this, contractors will need commercial licensure, which requires a completely different path. This is primarily due to different building codes and equipment used for larger projects.
Essentially, any project manager or owner of a construction company will need a general contractor's license to operate for medium-sized and large-scale projects. These licenses can open doors for you as a contractor or business owner. If you plan to move up in the industry, the sooner, the better!
Steps to Getting a General Contractor's License
Commercial and residential licenses require a similar process. Both require certification by the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC) and require applicants to pass examinations, complete and online course, and submit a license application for approval.
Passing scores and other practices are different for commercial and residential contractors, which we'll discuss momentarily!
Apply for the Exam
To take the National NASCLA Exam, you first need to apply at ned.nascla.org. While Louisiana is an administering state for the NASCLA Commercial Builder Exam, if applicants choose to apply to take the exam through the LSLBC instead of NASCLA, different examination regulations will apply. The LSLBC supplies books for use in the testing center. This means you cannot tab and highlight your books for use in the exam, meaning it is much more difficult to find answers in the timed, open-book test. Our exam experts highly recommend taking the exam through NASCLA to ensure you are best prepared for success in the exam.
Pass the Exam
Applicants must score at least 70% correct on the exam to pass. Even the most experienced contractors may not be well-versed in some of the specific content areas of these extensive licensing exams, which is why it's so important to prepare for the exam with a preparation course like ours. Topics on the NASCLA Commercial Builder exam include the following:
- Procurement and Contracting Requirements (31 questions)
- General Requirements (25)
- Site Construction (15)
- Concrete (6)
- Masonry (4)
- Metals (6)
- Wood (5)
- Thermal and Moisture Protection (5)
- Finishes (5)
- Doors, Windows, and Glazing (4)
- Mechanical and Plumbing Systems (6)
- Electrical Systems (3)
General contractors need a fairly in-depth understanding of all of these key components for success in the industry, which is reflected in the exam. Let's cover a few common questions about the exam.
Are the Exams Open Book?
Some Louisiana contractor exams are open-book, while others are not. The National NASCLA Commercial Builder exam is entirely open-book, and is accepted in 16 states as a commercial/general contractor licensing exam!
How Can I Prepare For the Exam?
Without a doubt, this exam requires preparation and studying, even if you've worked in the industry for your entire life. If you fail the exam, you will have to book and retake the 4-hour exam for another $130 fee.
To avoid any issues, we highly recommend enrolling in an exam preparation course and purchasing a book bundle with all of the exam preparation materials you need.
We know that people working in the construction industry can have busy schedules. For this reason, it can be a lot more feasible for many contract workers to go at their own pace than to enroll in a class. This is why all of our online exam prep courses are self-paced, so you can work on your own schedule and focus on only what you need to!
Do I Receive My License After Passing?
Once you have passed the exam, you will need to submit an application to the State Licensing Board to obtain a contractor's license. This is the last piece of the puzzle before obtaining licensure.
After your account is linked to your passing score, you can request a transcript sent to the state of Louisiana from the NASCLA National Educational Database (NED). Each transcript costs $30 and is sent electronically from the NASCLA database to the state agency. Unfortunately, there are no copies for download, but the state agencies are aware of this and will send you confirmation.
Pass the Business and Law Course
If you intend to start your own business after receiving your general contractor license, it's important that you also take the Business & Law Online Course through the LSLBC. You can register for this course online through the LSLBC site.
Finding employment with a general contractor license should not be too difficult. Skilled contractors are in high demand throughout the country, especially with national credentials. Remember to add your license to your resume, but that's not all.
If you have taken any contracting coursework along with your license exam, mention this in the education section of your resume. This will help you stand out from competitors for almost any role in the industry.
In most states, licenses last for two to four years. However, Louisiana general contractors need to maintain their license every year. You will need to start the renewal process 30 days before your license expires to avoid any interruptions.
Fortunately, you will have the option to solicit a one-year, two-year, or three-year renewal at this time. This entire process can be completed online, as long as you can submit the following forms:
- Louisiana Worker's Compensation Insurance requirements and forms
- Louisiana Tax Identification numbers and forms
- Louisiana State Business Licenses and Registrations
The licensing board will also require a lookup and verification of your business or employment before renewing your license. Also, if you don't submit these forms within 15 days after your license renewal date, you may have to pay a penalty.
Is a General Contractor's License Worth It?
While this is a subjective question, there are a few common themes that make a license "worth it" to someone. This could be salary, work-life balance, work environment, or job satisfaction. Some people simply love to build!
Here are some of the most important factors to consider before enrolling in a course or applying for the NASCLA exam.
Job Market Outlook
While tech and remote jobs get all of the attention, trades are always a safe bet, which is reflected in the numbers. Between 2020 and 2030, construction jobs in Louisiana are projected to grow by 8%.
That's quite a lot, considering that Louisiana already has a strong construction field of nearly 20,000 workers. This is important to understand, as these projections play into your future job security and market stability. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, many construction workers maintained steady schedules throughout the US.
While the average construction worker in Louisiana earns $28,800 per year, prospects go much higher. These are including laborers, apprentices, and lower-level trades.
Moreover, independent construction workers earn an average of $53,600, which is nearly double the state average for all workers in the industry. This is a far more applicable figure for those with a contractor license, as most will work independently or run their own business.
Also, project managers earn between $81,000 and $130,000 per year in Louisiana, while construction business owners earn an average of $140,000 to $340,000 per year. As we mentioned, prospects are quite high in the long term, depending on your career path with your licensure.
General contractors typically experience moderate job satisfaction, just above the national average. However, those in higher positions as project managers, independent contractors, or business owners tend to report higher levels of job satisfaction. Luckily, that's what this exam allows workers to start!
Project management and general contracting can include quite stressful work. There are a lot of details from clients to keep in mind, laws to follow, and schedules to juggle and work around.
However, it is generally rewarding work. Not only can you build quality connections with other contractors and clients, but you get to see a project through from start to finish.
General contractors typically work 40 hours a week, and some may work even more. Business owners and project managers especially tend to work the longest hours, but this heavily depends on the workload.
However, construction workers don't work on holidays, and they may even receive days off due to poor weather conditions. This can certainly help facilitate a better work-life balance than the average Louisiana worker.
Launch Your Career Today
Now that you know how to become a general contractor in Louisiana, you can see why it's such a popular career path. All you have to do is pass an exam and build some (paid) experience. From there, the sky is the limit on how much you can earn.
If you're planning on obtaining a general contractor's license in the state of Louisiana, request a quote from one of our agents to help you prepare for the National NASCLA Commercial Builder exam and get started today!