How Much Does A Contractor Make In California In 2023?

Thinking about becoming a contractor and want to know how much you can expect to make?

Look no further.

Although California’s construction scene is diverse, with dozens of trades and specializations working across every category of construction you can imagine, there’s some reliable, general data that you can use to plan your future as a contractor. 

So without further ado, let’s take a peek at how much a contractor makes – on average – in California in 2023.

What’s The Hourly Rate for A California Contractor in 2023?

According to hiring data analyst ZipRecruiter, as of October 2023, the average hourly rate for a general contractor in California is approximately $56.64, equivalent to an annual salary of $117,773!

That’s a good chunk of change! But it’s important to note that number is an average – you can expect to make roughly $10-20 more or less than this rate, depending on a few factors. 

Where Do Contractors Make The Most Money?

As a large state with diverse living costs, California’s contractor hourly rates can vary greatly depending on where you work and live. It sometimes is worth it to commute good distances to work on higher paying jobs in neighboring metropolitan areas.

For example, in high-cost regions such as San Francisco and LA, where the annual salary is roughly $137,000, hourly rates tend to be higher. You’ll see lower rates in towns like Kern or Arnold. 

Whether it’s worth it to move or to commute to these high-COL places is up to you. In some cases, you can make more money by commuting, but it’s not always the case. Do the financial diligence you need to do to understand the costs and benefits and make a decision from there.

Experience: A Defining Factor

A contractor’s experience level significantly impacts their hourly rate. The more senior you are, the higher rate you can command

Seasoned contractors with an established reputation and successful projects under their belt can command higher rates. Conversely, less experienced contractors or those with a limited portfolio may offer lower rates to attract clientele.

Project Type: Complexity and Cost

The scope and complexity of a project also affect the hourly rate. Projects requiring specialized skills like welding or HVAC or those that need bespoke or custom pieces are naturally going to cost more than repainting a barely-used parking lot.

This is a large reason why many contractors decide to finally take the plunge and get a contractor’s license – by taking on bigger jobs, you can make more profit on every job, which means more money in you and your family’s pocket.

In Conclusion

The good news for California contractors is that we make a good amount of money for what we do. 

In a state where the median salary is ~$76,000, a contractor working 40 hours a week can almost triple that amount – but of course, that only applies to licensed contractors who work hard to build their business and continually grow it. 

The sky is the limit when it comes to contractors, so choose wisely when considering your career path.