Building Contractor

Building contractors are independent construction specialists who bid on specific assignments within major construction projects. The construction of one large building might involve many contractors and subcontractors working together towards its completion.

A contractor first analyses the work specifications, determines the materials, personnel and related costs required to complete the assigned task and then submits a quotation. If the tender is accepted, the contractor purchases materials and works according to the job specifications and makes use of various skilled artisans and labourers who are assigned to the project.

Personal Requirements

  • enjoy solving problems
  • good decision-making skills
  • innovative - able to think about old problems in new ways
  • accurate and persistent
  • show good judgement and business minded
  • able to work with people at all levels

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
  • Grade 10 Certificate for learnership training

Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

There are 3 ways to qualify as a registered artisan:

1. An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.

2. A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training.

3. TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools. They are also exposed to a practical workshop component.

All learners are required to complete a practical internship under the supervision of an experienced artisan. As an alternative to doing the full qualification, a learner can apply to do a skills programme at a TVET College. Skills programmes are short practical hands-on courses.

For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.

Most building contractors begin their careers as artisans: carpenters, painters, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians. They then gain a contractor’s licence to register as a building contractor.

Degree: Construction Economics / Management - NMMU, UCT, UP, Wits, UFS, UJ.

Diploma: Building - TUT, CUT, DUT, CPUT, VUT and TVET Colleges e.g. KZN Coastal, Tshwane South, Northlink, S Cape College, also Damelin.


  • private construction companies
  • public utility companies
  • partnerships
  • self-employment

Further Information

Master Builders South Africa (MBSA)
No. 1 Second Road
Midrand, South Africa 
Tel: (011) 205-9000

Getting Started

  • speak to a building contractor about this career
  • obtain holiday work with a construction company

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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