I job-shadowed a residential contractor, Bruno. The day I shadowed him, he was working on a really nice condo downtown. He had two trades working for him that day, but does a lot of the work himself. He has been in the business for many years, but this project is particularly hard because it is a large-scale project and the condo has lots of restrictions.

Before beginning the project, Bruno met with the architect, went over the plans with her, and made an appraisal based on the materials, scale of the work, and the guidelines. In this case, the project will take all summer since every single room is being redone (kitchen, bedrooms, living area, and a library), and because of condo restrictions, Bruno is only allowed to start work at 11:00 a.m. and has to stop early in the afternoon. It is incredibly difficult to bring materials into the condo because the service elevator can be a hassle. A job like this can cost the client hundreds of thousands, but Bruno uses high-quality materials and does a fine job. 

Throughout the time I spent with Bruno, he cut a lot of wood so he could panel the walls later, he met with the architect to talk about any changes or problems, and instructed his trades on their daily tasks. 

A Typical Day

A contractor meets with clients and architects while buying materials and working on the job site.

Top 3 Perks

1) Can be self-employed 

2) Being active and outside sometimes 

3) Building relationships with clients 

Job Culture

Indoors and outdoors, physically demanding, moving objects, operating equipment, managing others, face-to-face discussions, job autonomy.


- Contractors usually start out as regular construction workers.

 - In Canada, you have to join the Canadian Construction Association Gold Seal Program. 

Skills Needed

Leadership, precision, care, athletic, customer service, administrative, steadiness, near vision, cooperation with other trades.

The Field

-- The industry is heavily impacted by the economy. 

- As more baby boomers retire, more general contractors are needed.