Norman Bangerter was born in Granger, Utah, on 4 January 1933 to William H. Bangerter, a building contractor and farmer, and Isabelle Bawden Bangerter. He was the tenth of eleven children. In 1953 he married Colleen Monson of Magna, and the couple had six children of their own while also raising a foster son.
At the age of thirty, Bangerter founded his own construction company, which specialized in home building and residential real estate development. He developed the company into a very successful enterprise which did especially well during the economic boom of the 1970s.
It was only after his business was firmly established that Norm Bangerter became interested in politics. He served in the state house of representatives from 1975 to 1985; and held leadership positions of assistant majority whip, majority leader, and speaker of the house. In 1984, the popular speaker became the Republican candidate for governor. He defeated Democratic candidate Wayne Owens by a margin of 56 to 44 percent.