Whether you're seeking a change because of the pandemic or wanting to get into a line of work that will provide a steady income, becoming a window and door contractor is worth considering. While not a path that can be picked up on a whim, a contractor who gains a reputation for quality work when it comes to new construction, installing, replacement windows and in general getting things done in the time promised is unlikely to wonder how to pay for things like food, clothing, and shelter.
Do you have what it takes to become a door and window contractor? Here are some of the essentials that have to do with this line of work.
Assessing the Qualities That You Bring to the Table
Stamina is one of the hallmarks of a window and door contractor. You will be on your feet for quite a few hours at a time. The ability to keep going and complete tasks without frequent rests are a must. Enough strength to carry a significant amount of weight and also balance windows and doors so they can be inserted properly are also needed.
If you have a demonstrated ability to organize tasks, that's also an indication that this type of work is for you. Structuring a job so that there's a minimum of wasted time or resources will go a long way toward helping you complete projects faster and with more efficiency.
A willingness to learn is also your friend. All types of construction are subject to innovation. If you're the type who is willing to investigate and possibly implement new technology or strategies into your work life, that flexibility will serve you well.
Completing a Basic Education
Unlike some lines of work, becoming a windows contractor does not require a higher degree. If you have one, that's great. At least some of the general studies you completed along with some of the courses required for your major are likely to provide some perspectives that you can bring to the work.
If you are not a college graduate, it's still possible to become a successful window contractor.
People who have at least a high school education will find that they have the basic educational skills needed to learn this trade. The other skills can be acquired in more than one way. Be prepared to spend some time learning everything that you need to know. This will likely mean working for a contractor who assigns tasks related to installations. While this will mean taking on work that pays less right now, that will change when you're ready to start taking on projects of your own.
Considering the Idea of Becoming an Apprentice
Mentoring is no uncommon in this type of work. You may find an established contractor who will be willing to take you on as an apprentice. This is somewhat different from working as part of an installation team. While you will still help on window and door installations, more of your time is spent performing tasks under the guidance of the contractor. That means learning how to perform assessments and inspections, preparing quotes, planning the scheduling for an installation, and learning how to manage an installation crew.
If you go this route, expect to spend at least a couple of years as an apprentice. You'll know when it's time to make the transition into a full-time contractor.
On the Job Training Works Too
If an apprenticeship is not available, starting as an entry-level employee at an established firm is also an option. You can learn quite a bit about door and window installations as a trainee and later as a full member of an installation team. The little things you learn about how to save time and resources without compromising on quality will serve you well once you feel comfortable enough to try managing your first project.
Enrolling in a Certification Program
Certification programs are something that you can pursue before or during your employment with an installation company. The studies required in this more formal setting allow you to learn more about what sort of materials are in compliance with regulatory agencies like the
Canadian Standards Association.When paired with the practical experience you get on the job, it's much easier to become proficient with all aspects of this type of work.
Independent Study: Learning About Current Standards
Even with formal studies, you will want to continue learning more about what's happening in the industry. Subscribing to online and print publications that have to do with door and window installation help keep you up to date on the latest information about materials, the equipment used during installations, and any pending updates to current industry standards or governmental regulations. While this is something you will do throughout your career, starting while still a novice will help you increase your bank of knowledge a little faster.
Putting in the Hours
Contractors do put in long hours. At any given time, a contractor may have several projects in progress. That means keeping up with the status on each of those projects, visiting the sites to ensure everything is going well, interacting with clients, and even scheduling appointments with potential clients.
You'll also be called on to help others learn the trade even as you work with clients so they understand the impact of new windows or doors on the energy flow within their homes. By the time you get through a typical day, don't be surprised if you've put in 12 or more hours. If that's not something you're willing to do, it may be in your best interests to pursue a different line of work.
Developing a Team Player Attitude
While you will eventually be responsible for what an installation crew does, it's important to remember that being a team player, albeit one who has the final word, will aid in your success. It's true that you may be the one to remind the crew of things like the CSA A440 standards for window, door, and skylight installation from time to time, but it's equally important to be there to help when someone is having a problem on the job. Keep that attitude and you'll find that the turnover in your crew will be kept to a minimum.
Are you right for a career as a window and door contractor? Only you can answer that question. Learn more about what the work entails and then make a decision. You may find that this is exactly what you want to do for the rest of your working life.