Site Preparation Contractors

Career Snapshot

The Site Preparation Contractors career sub-sector of the construction industry comprises a business person or a company primarily engaged in site preparation activities, such as excavating and grading, demolition of buildings and other structures and septic system installation. Earth moving and land clearing for all types of sites (e.g., building, nonbuilding, mining) is included in this industry. Establishments primarily engaged in construction equipment rental with operator (except cranes) are also included.  A Site Preparation Contractor mostly employs construction equipment operators who run one or several pieces of power construction equipment, such as motor graders, bulldozers, scrapers, compressors, pumps, derricks, shovels, tractors, or front-end loaders to excavate, move, and grade earth, erect structures, or pour concrete or other hard surface pavement.

Activities of Site Preparation Contractor entities are generally managed at a fixed place of business, while the construction equipment operators are generally on site and performing the work.

Job Details

The Site Preparation Contractor typically are hired to complete the following:

  • Building demolition and blasting
  • Bulldozer, backhoe and other construction equipment (except crane) rental with operator
  • Digging foundations
  • Dismantling engineering structures (e.g., oil storage tank)
  • Drainage system (e.g., cesspool, septic tank) installation
  • Drilled pier and shaft (i.e., for building foundations) contractors
  • Dry well construction
  • Excavating, earthmoving or land clearing contractors
  • Grading construction sites
  • House demolishing
  • Land clearing and leveling contractors
  • Underground tank (except hazardous material) removal

Education and Experience

High school education and experience can be sufficient, but a bachelor's degree in construction management or another relevant field is becoming more common. Vocational training and math courses are useful, and a course in auto mechanics can be helpful because workers often perform maintenance on their equipment. Before embarking on a business venture, many Site Preparation Contractors learn their jobs by, and have a lengthy tenure as, a construction equipment operator.

In addition, a certain degree of ‘business savvy’ is required as the work includes not only dealing with subcontractors and other workers, but handling client concerns as well. A good contractor must be able to get the job done while ensuring everyone has what they need.

Site Preparation Contractors need an appropriate State contractor's license. As well, commercial driver’s license (CDL) if there is equipment to haul to various jobsites. State laws governing CDLs vary.

Certification is not required to work in construction management; however, it is becoming more common because it shows competence and demonstrates the proper training in the field.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: Construction Site Contractors in May 2019 earned an average base salary of $103,000
  • Employment growth forecast 2018-2028: 10%
  • Entry-level education: Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management is becoming more common

Career Growth Opportunity

The job growth for construction contractors is expected to rise from 2018-2028 since buildings are always needed – and old ones are often in need of repair and maintenance – giving a reasonably steady place in the workforce. Applicants can improve their ability to compete for jobs by completing a bachelor's degree in construction management or construction science and acquiring a state license.

Professional Associations

  • ABET - This independent body accredits programs in engineering, engineering technology and more, including those programs in construction technology.
  • American Council for Construction Education - This council accredits construction programs throughout the nation, as well as provides industry support and resources for those in the construction trades.
  • American Institute of Constructors - The AIC exists to promote individual professionalism and excellence in all fields of construction.
  • Construction Management Association of America - Formed in 1982, the CMAA has over 14,000 members. It focuses on certification, education, training and other points that matter to those who intend on a lifelong contractor career.
  • Contractor’s License Reference Site - This site offers information on what each state requires of contractors, and how homeowners can verify contracting licenses.
  • National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies - This site offers comprehensive information on licensing in various states, as well as information on project management, business law and more.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.  Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • Foundation for Trades - The goal of the Foundation for Trades organization is to help a new generation see the value of working with their hands and appreciating a job well done by hard work and talent. We offer a foundation of knowledge in the areas of building trades that will help propel an ever-diminishing workforce toward a rewarding future.
  • Trades Women - Founded in 1979 as a grassroots support organization, the mission of Trades Women is outreach, recruitment, retention and leadership development for women in blue-collar skilled craft.
  • TEACH Construction - TEACH Construction focuses on creating curriculum, and the related Instructional Resources, for the teaching of basic to intermediate skills in construction.
  • North America’s Building Trades Union - NABTU is dedicated to the stability of employment and economic security of organized construction workers in North America. Its purpose is to create more work opportunities, achieve living wages and protect benefit standards, not just for the members of its 14 national and international union affiliates, but for all construction workers.
  • National Skilled Trades Network - NSTN is a National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) Accredited Training Sponsor (ATS) and seeks to support youth and young adults in under-served communities in acquiring the skills needed to become certified skilled trades workers and employable in the lucrative skilled trades industry.
  • SkillsUSA - SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Its mission is to help each student excel. A non-profit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service (including health) occupations.
  • AEC Business - This website is a blog and podcast forum for construction innovations. It is a great resource for construction business owners looking to up their game with strategic insights. Filled with useful how-to's and a simple writing style, it’s a must-read for construction managers wanting to stay “in the know.”
  • National Association of Home Builders  - NAHB represents the largest network of craftsmen, innovators and problem solvers dedicated to building and enriching communities operating at the local, state and national levels.
  • Association of Equipment Management Professionals - AEMP is the premier organization serving those who manage and maintain heavy, off-road fleets.  Their mission is building excellence in Equipment management.
  • Pile Driving Contractors Association - The Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA) is an organization of pile driving contractors that advocates the increased use of driven piles for deep foundations and earth retention systems.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry.
  • National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operator - NCCCO aims to enhance lifting equipment safety, reduce workplace risk, improve performance records, stimulate training, and give due recognition to the professionals who work in, with, and around load handling equipment.
  • The Building Trades Alliance - BTA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the building trades and to the partnership between the various building trade unions and contractors that drives progress throughout our nation.

Certification Associations

The American Institute of Constructors offers the Associate Constructor (AC) and Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) designations to those who meet the requirements and successfully complete the proper examinations. The Construction Management Association of America awards the Certified Construction Manager (CCM) designation to workers who have the required experience and pass a technical examination.

Publications and Magazines

  • Construction Today - This online magazine is all about best practices in the general building, heavy construction and associated specialty trade sectors.
  • Point of Beginning Magazine - current issue, archives, news, products, e-newsletter
  • Equipment World - equipment, better roads, business, tech, workforce
  • Concrete Construction Magazine - projects, products, business, how-to's...
  • Construction Equipment Guide - offers construction and industry news and information along with new and used construction equipment for sale from dealers in your area.
  • Construction Business Owner – strategy, marketing, management, tech, equipment, safety
  • The Constructor - informational archive of contributed articles on subjects such as concrete, construction, structures, building tips, how-to's...
  • Equipment Today - articles (equipment selection, maintenance, management, protection and regulation)
  • Compact Equipment - includes sectors such as farming, forestry, landscaping


Community College

Two-year schools offer construction-relevant certificates and associate degrees ideal for aspiring independent contractors who want to apply their knowledge quickly or move on to higher degrees.

Contractor Certification

These programs typically take one year or less to complete and are designed to teach students specialized information, enhance their skills or prepare them for degree programs. Programs at this level are available in a wide variety of areas, including construction management, construction engineering technology, building systems, OSHA Outreach and more. Below are a few of the classes one might take in a certificate program.

Associate Contractor’s Degree

Building construction/site management is perhaps the most common associate degree for aspiring contractors. Programs take about two years to complete and may be available entirely online. Some programs require general education courses, but applied associate degrees offer targeted courses, thus allowing students to enter the workforce faster. Those who plan on pursuing bachelor’s degrees may want to enroll in a more academic program.