Congratulations! If you became a licensed general contractor this year, you have a lot to be proud of. Your hard work has paid off, and you can look forward to the next step in your career. By this time, you’ve probably paid for your bond and made the first critical steps towards either setting up or expanding your business. That’s a big accomplishment, and it means you’ve probably got a lot on your plate. I’ll bet the last thing you’re thinking about now is the mandatory continuing education courses required to renew your license.
But it shouldn’t be.
It’s only natural to procrastinate and leave these required CE courses to the very last minute. But studies show that the largest number of general contractor licensing infractions occur within the first year of licensing. With just a little bit of prior planning, you can set yourself up for the courses you need to fulfill your requirements and not risk your hard-earned license.
It’s nothing to be afraid of. Let me walk you through the process.
Learn the requirements in your state
Each state has different requirements for continuing education for general contractors. Some states don’t even have requirements. Your first step is to find out the specific requirements for your license renewal.
Here in North Carolina, contractor licensing is regulated by The North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. There are 3 classifications that can be obtained in any field: limited, intermediate, and unlimited. The important information here is that each of these licenses requires annual continuing education courses for license renewal.
Go to the website where you applied for your license and search for “continuing education requirements.” If you don’t remember it, just Google it. The important part of this step is that each state has different requirements, so don’t go by “what you may have heard.” Check for yourself.
Make note of when the courses must be completed
In North Carolina, there’s a window of time when you can submit your Certificate of Completion of your courses and renew your license before the year ends. Find out what that window is in your state and make note of it. Set a reminder on your phone; put it in your Outlook calendar; make a card on your Trello board. However, you track important reminders, make one for when you need to start your CE classes and when they need to be completed.
Next, schedule your courses into your work calendar. As I said, we all get busy and procrastinate, and we push off tasks we don’t want to face until the last minute. The problem is, continuing education courses are a task that can take between six and ten hours, depending on your state’s requirements. That’s a full workday. If you plan on getting the courses done in one day, you better put that day aside in your calendar and then stick to it. If it has to be pushed back, don’t push it back farther than the deadline you placed in your calendar.
I strongly advise you to break up the hours required for your continuing education courses over several days. Think of each course as a meeting: two hours here, an hour there, and another two hours at a different time. This is a lot more like the way you work normally, and won’t require you to “crunch” your studies all at once (which is shown to be the worst way of studying).
Online or in-person? Decide ahead of time.
Everybody learns a different way. Some people are great at learning in the classroom, some are better on their own, some people are great test takers and others are better at reports. Before you sign up for continuing education courses, ask yourself which one are you? If you need the discipline of in-person learning, choose classroom courses. If you excelled at online courses when studying for your GC licensing exam, go that route instead.
You will take a lot of the unknown out of this whole process with this one step. The other key here is to do it in advance. This way, you don’t run the risk of having the class environment you prefer being sold out before you get it. Play to your learning strengths and there will be fewer surprises in the process.
Are you sensing a theme here? If you said “planning,” you’re correct. The process of taking your continuing education courses is pretty simple, and a lot like the courses you took to first get your license…as long as you plan for it. If you wait until the last moment to sign up for and complete your CE courses, the whole process becomes more complicated and stressful.
So, why not get started now? Contact AJCEO