Helpful Tips to Becoming a Contractor When You Have No Experience

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

When entering the job market, it’s not uncommon to see that employers want so many years of experience in a particular field in order to even be considered for the position. That’s one of the biggest obstacles people face when changing career paths or entering the job market for the first, like college graduates. This same need for years of experience is also needed in the world of becoming a contractor.

True enough, there are indeed small jobs that you can do that don’t require a license. For instance, if you’re pretty good with your hands, and know the basics of working safely with tools, you can start a small handyman business doing minor repairs and small projects. But if you want to take on much larger projects like building houses or get into a niche area of contracting like HVAC or electrical repairs, you will indeed be required to have a contractor’s license to take on those types of jobs, not only for the complexity of work but also for the risks involved.

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So the real question is how is one supposed to get into the contracting business if you have zero experience?

Well, there’s no way to get around the aspect of needing hands-on experience but you most definitely can get your contractor’s license with no construction or contracting experience… it’s simply a matter of which you prefer to do first.

Coursework First, Then Experience

All too often people think that you have to have contracting experience before you can take your contractor exam, and that’s just not the case. Would it be more helpful? Probably, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to pass your exam just because you don’t have any experience. With the right online courses and study materials. You can pass the Business and Law Exam along with the exam specific to your contracting niche.

There are so many benefits to earning your contractor’s license, even with no experience. But the main two benefits are:

  • High Earning Potential: With a contractor’s license, you’ll be able to take on higher-paying jobs. Clients have no problem paying more for licensed professionals because they know the job will be done right.
  • Boosts Your Credibility: When you have the power to flash your contractor’s license, it’s a badge of honor to clients that you know what you’re doing and will complete the job with the skill and expertise necessary.

Of course, none of this is beneficial for big jobs, or even small jobs, if you don’t have the hands-on experience. The method to this reverse order of operations is that you’ve gotten the technical part out of the way. Now it’s time to get the hands-on experience you need. This will allow you to take the knowledge you learned from your study materials and exams and actually put it to the test.

Pairing Your Coursework Knowledge With Hands-On Experience

Getting your license before hands-on experience may not be the traditional route to take, but with no experience, it’s great legal backing for you if you start doing small repairs for family and friends. Plus, there’s no right or wrong order to becoming a contractor… As long as you get the hands-on experience you need and pass the exams, you have all the essentials needed to become a contractor. 

So now, how do you get the hands-on experience you need to develop your skills? Well, there are a few ways to do this.

Get in an Apprenticeship Program: By enrolling in an apprenticeship program, you’ll be able to work with a skilled worker in your trade and learn the skills and techniques necessary to become skilled in that field.

Take On Small Jobs: In this instance, you’ll be giving yourself your own hands-on experience. Look for small tasks around your house that involve your trade and work on solving the issue. Watch how-to videos and tutorials on how to take on that type of job. Unclogging sinks, painting, or installing cabinets are small tasks that can easily be done on your own by performing on your own at home or for friends and family.

This may not be ideal to you, but it’s a start. How do you think all these DIYers become so talented and skilled? They watch videos and just start working with their hands to figure things out on their own.

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***If your license is in any type of electrical, roofing, or foundations type of niche, you most definitely want to enroll in an apprenticeship program before even doing small jobs at home, for safety reasons***

Apply to Jobs With Honesty: When looking for work with a construction or contracting company, be upfront and honest about your experience. Let them know you have the knowledge of the field but just need to work your way up to get the experience you need. This may or may not work, it just depends on the company. But your level of experience is something you want to always be honest about.


You can indeed get your contractor’s license without having any contracting experience. Getting your license isn’t the hard part, getting the necessary experience is what’s so hard, and it’s the very thing construction and contracting companies want because you can get your license at any time. 

Although there’s no right or wrong order to becoming a contractor, always strive for getting your experience first, and then get your license.