While California has some of the highest demand in the country for skilled construction workers and licensed contractors, there are also many enticing job offers that require you to travel. Spending some time seeing a new part of the country sounds appealing, but there's more to working as a traveling contractor than just moving around.
Before you sign on to a job that requires you to move around or relocate, consider the following facts. You need to understand both the upsides and downsides to this kind of construction work first, especially if you are a newly licensed contractor.
1. Varied Accommodations
First, traveling away from home to work necessitates finding temporary housing. Many construction employers handle this for their contractors and pay for a hotel room. However, these arrangements usually involve sharing a room with at least one other co-worker. Other companies prefer to pay a per diem for housing, which may or may not totally cover the costs of a hotel room in the area you're working.
For the best experience, consider buying your own RV and using it as private temporary housing while you work. You can use your employer's per diem to cover the costs of staying in an RV park and keep any money you save over staying in a hotel or motel.
2. Reduced Travel Pay
Employers are required to pay for an employer's time spent traveling while working, and this leads many contractors to assume they'll rack up income just driving or flying to a far-off job site. However, travel pay is optional when an employee is traveling to a new job site prior to working rather than between sites while working a shift. This means you may have to pay out of pocket for gas or airfare to reach your new job.
Some employers still offer a healthy bonus to cover your travel expenses when they're not required to do so. Check the specifics of each job offer before assuming the pay is worth the work since you may have to cover your own travel to the job site and back home again. The employer must compensate you if the travel expenses would lower your hourly pay below minimum wage.
3. Complicated Taxes
Filing your taxes becomes significantly more difficult when you take traveling construction jobs. You can claim many more expenses, including meals and travel not covered by a per diem, but that results in more record-keeping and filing work.
Employee status also varies from job to job. Some construction companies will hire you as an employee and therefore deduct taxes from your pay. Others may prefer to handle you as an independent contractor, deduct nothing from your pay, and send you a W-2 so you can pay your own taxes later.
4. Imbalanced Salaries
In general, hourly wages are higher for traveling contractors than fixed ones. However, there is little information to show if this is universally true since the salary information listed by sources like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't differentiate between traveling and non-traveling workers for construction.
Do your research before assuming you will make more per hour by traveling. You may earn just as much by staying near home after adding an extra certification or specialty to your contractor's license. Make sure the higher pay actually covers the extra travel, equipment, and leisure costs you'll accrue along the way.
5. Limited Leisure Opportunities
Finally, many traveling construction jobs stipulate a six day work week or daily hours beyond the usual nine-to-five routine. You'll likely earn even more due to overtime, but will have far less time for relaxing and recuperating with little time off. Many traveling construction workers see little of the places they visit due to busy schedules and sore muscles during their downtime.
Whether you want to travel the country or stay near home, we here at Golden State Contractors School are ready to help you take the first step by becoming a licensed contractor.