Performance Contractors: If you’re a construction or renovation worker who specializes in painting, you might have given some thought to how you can go into business for yourself.
Painting contractors not only need to be skilled in a variety of painting techniques.
But also know how to bid on jobs, calculate project expenses and hire workers in order to be successful.
Before you can begin working as an independent painting contractor in most states.
You’ll first need to apply for licensing, carry liability insurance and file the right documents to have your business officially recognized.
Receiving Your Education
Earn your high school diploma or equivalency.
Though it’s not strictly necessary, having at least a high school level of education will give you a leg up in qualifying for other educational opportunities and securing jobs later on.
After completing high school, you can begin working as a painter or looking into specific apprenticeship programs.
- Successful painting contractors need to have a basic grasp of math, communications, and other subjects that will help them calculate project costs and communicate effectively with clients.
- If you plan on working in an area where more than one language is commonly spoken, studying another language while you’re still in school may be a good use of your time.
As of 2010, all painting contractors in the United States must be officially certified to work with lead-based paints. The purpose of the RRP program is to inform new contractors about the risks and proper safety procedures for working on properties that contain hazardous materials.
- Without your RRP certification, you won’t be able to begin working legally.
Research the licensing requirements for your area.
Contact the licensing board for your state or district to find out more about what you’ll need to do to get your business off the ground.
- Visit www.contractors-license.org to review the laws and requirements for obtaining a contractor’s license in your state.
- Basic licensing requirements typically include registration forms, a certification exam and payment of associated fees.
Take classes on business administration.
Look through their catalog and sign up for classes that you think will translate to the daily demands of the job, like cost management, staffing and tax fundamentals.
- Many states require that contractors take at least 16 hours of business-related classes before sitting for a contractor’s exam.
- Online programs may be helpful for professionals who don’t have the time to attend classes in person. College experience can make a great thing to add to your list of qualifications.
Take part in a painter’s apprenticeship.
Which will prove valuable once you’re ready to take the reigns of running a business yourself.
- An average apprenticeship takes several years to complete. In addition to hands-on work, you may be expected to log a certain number of classroom hours, as well.
- Contact painting contractors in your area or run a quick search online to learn more about potential apprenticeship opportunities.
Work with a professional painting contractor.
If you haven’t done so already, sign on to work with a painting company near you. As part of a professional team, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade and work in a variety of different environments, both commercial and residential. There’s no better way to accumulate practical experience than to do it on the job.
- You don’t need to be licensed in order to work for a professional contractor—as a hired employee, you’ll be covered under their license.
- Doing paid work will allow you to make a living and refine your craft while you prepare to launch a business of your own.
Familiarize yourself with construction codes and regulations.
All cities have laws that dictate things like how contractors can do business, what types of materials and equipment are okay to use, and how professional contracts should be handled. It will be necessary for you to have a working knowledge of these regulations as a private contractor. You can study them on your own time while you’re finishing an apprenticeship or receiving on-the-job training.
- Construction codes and other important legal information are a part of public record and can be found at the local library.
- You can also access references online at the official website of your local government, or through organizations like the International Code Council.
Getting Certified and Registering Your Business
Take and pass your contractor’s certification exam.
Like the licensing requirements, the content and format of the exam will vary depending on your location. However, the test will almost always include a comprehensive written section, on top of which you may be asked to describe or demonstrate key skills. Upon passing your exam, you’ll have between 1 and 4 years to complete the process of formally registering your business.
- You can download a copy of the exam application from the Contractors State License Board website.
- To help you prep for the exam, test administrators recommend that you brush up on resources like the International Building Code, OSHA’s 29. CFR 1926 manual and various textbooks geared toward painting and decorating craftsmen.
File the necessary business documents.
For starters, you’ll need a general business license to begin taking on contract work.
You may also have to have other specific licenses that permit you to operate in off-limits zones or handle certain materials.
A separate home business permit will be required if you plan on using your own residence as the headquarters for your contracting business.
- Business licenses are filed with the state or district that which the work is to be performed in. As a result, they’ll only be recognized in those places.
- The person with the contractor’s license is known as the Responsible Managing Individual (RMI). You will need to name yourself as the RMI in your application documents.
Acquire liability insurance.
In the event of accident, injury or property damage, liability insurance will protect you from having your assets seized. Look into a few different providers to compare rates and see what sort of coverage they offer. Good insurance is absolutely critical for small business owners, who stand to lose a lot more should something go wrong.
- The total monthly cost of insurance shouldn’t be more than a few hundred dollars.
- In addition to general liability insurance, it might also be a good idea to have some form of completed operations or contract liability insurance in the event that there’s a dispute over a finished project.
- Shop around until you find a policy that best suits your company’s needs.
Purchase surety bonds.
Surety bonds essentially act as a kind of agreement between the contractor and the person hiring them that the job will be performed to standard. You can obtain these through your current insurer as a separate form of financial protection. As a contractor, many states require you to be bonded before you can begin working legally.
- The prices of surety bonds range from between $10,000 and $15,000. You’ll only be responsible for paying a small percentage (typically around 2%) of the total amount that the bond is worth.
- The type of bond you’ll most likely need is referred to as a “performance bond,” which guarantees that the requirements of the contract will be fulfilled.
Receive your contractor’s license.
Once you’ve passed your licensing exam, registered your business through the proper channels, and shown proof of liability insurance, you can submit an official application to receive your contractor’s license. This can be done online or by mail. Following a short review process, you’ll be issued your license, after which you can get to work securing jobs and building your business’s reputation.
- You’ll be asked to provide a few points of basic personal info, as well as relevant work experience and documentation of apprenticeships and certifications.
- As of June, 2017, the total fees for a contractor’s license in the US stand at $300.
Register your business.
The final step to becoming operational is to actually form a business entity. Usually, this is as simple as filling out a few forms with the Business Services Division of your local government. Private contractors will need to file for a sole proprietorship, which means you’ll be recognized as having full ownership of the company.
- Contact the office governing business operations in your state to request the necessary paperwork. These agencies also frequently make convenient business registration guides available online.
- Review the tax criteria in your region carefully to find out more about how to handle your private contracting company’s business taxes.
Things You’ll Need
- High school diploma or equivalency (optional)
- EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting Program certification
- Contractor Licensing exam
- Liability insurance
- Various business licensing forms and documents
In order to become a professional painting contractor, you should first strive to master your craft. You’ll need to have a strong work ethic, good business acumen, and an impeccable eye for detail.
Don’t limit yourself to one type of work. Homes, businesses, and public facilities like schools and hospitals all require the services of professional painters, both inside and out.
Certain states in the US, like Colorado, don’t require that you have a license to work as a painting contractor—if you have the right tools and experience, you can simply start taking on jobs as you please.
If you’ve recently moved or taken your business on the road, be sure to reapply for the licenses you need once you reach your new location.
In states with more rigorous regulations, like California and Michigan, you could be subjected to a fine or even jail time for advertising and performing contractor work without a license.