You may ask about how to get your general contractor license in Florida. As a general contractor, you have a lot of responsibilities, like providing the materials, workers, and even the equipment needed for the construction project.
Before you can practice as a general contractor, you must pass the Florida general contractor exam and obtain four years of experience. If you take the exam to get the license, it may cost you money and time. However, this is the only way for you to practice and attain high-paying projects. When you are a licensed general contractor in Florida, you can practice your profession independently and legally and uphold a stable career.
What Do General Contractors Do?
Before we discuss the Florida contractor license requirements and Florida contractor license types, let us first identify the role of the general contractors.
Usually, property owners ensure that the construction project is finished on time, safely, and with quality. That’s why these property owners opt to hire a general contractor. A general contractor is an expert in managing a construction project.
For both commercial and residential projects, general contractors are essential. They do specific tasks such as installing the roof and the new tiles on the floor and building the structure’s foundation. Most importantly, general contractors are needed when coordinating with different tradespeople to finish the job.
A general contractor manages the project from the start-up to the completion. During the entire project, the general contractor acts as a middleman between the property owner and the tradespeople, material suppliers, and vendors, who play essential roles in making the structure to life. They also carry the compensation and insurance of the workers. The general contractor will handle the situation when something wrong happens to the worker.
The project’s delivery mechanism determines the general contractor’s responsibilities. For example, the general contractor may oversee both design and construction on a design-build project. In a standard design-bid-build project, the general contractor takes over after the architect has completed the design and specifications.
You will learn how to get your general contractor license in Florida as you continue reading the entire article.
What is Required to Get a General Contractor’s License in Florida?
Can you imagine yourself building structures and overseeing the whole team in a construction project? If yes, then you may want to become a general contractor. But before you earn your general contractor license in Florida, there are standard requirements, which are enumerated below:
- You must be 18 years old and above.
- You are a U.S. citizen or authorized to work in the U.S.
- You must have a good reputation for a background check and electronic fingerprint scan.
- You must be financially stable.
- You must pass the Florida general contractor exam.
- You must have the Certificate of Insurance for general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
- You must have at least four years of experience as a foreman or formal education.
Experience and Education
You must have a four-year college bachelor’s degree in engineering, architecture, or building construction. Also, you must obtain at least one year of construction experience to qualify for the license.
If you don’t have a college bachelor’s degree in the abovementioned courses, you must have at least four years of active experience as a foreman responsible for a team.
You can also have a combination of education and work experience. Junior college and community college-level courses are recognized as accredited college-level courses. Thus, the more education you possess, the lesser years of experience are required to get the license.
To get the general contractor license, you must be financially stable as stipulated in Rule 61G4-15.006, F.A.C. That’s why, as an applicant, you must provide a good credit report that does not present any delinquencies. Your credit score should be 660 and above. However, in place of a credit score, you may also furnish a licensing bond. You may lessen the required bond if you take the board-approved 14-hour financial responsibility course.
Good Reputation/Electronic Fingerprint Scan
A good moral character without any criminal background is required for the general contracture licensure application. This rule is based on Section 489.111(3)(a), Florida Statutes. If the CILB does not accept that you are a person with good moral character, they will give you a statement with the board’s findings. The CILB ensures that they have complete evidence supporting the denial. You are also required to submit your fingerprints to check your criminal background. Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigations give criminal background reports. The reports take effect for six months from the date of issuance.
You need to obtain public liability and property damage insurance in the amounts based on Board regulations. You must also have worker’s compensation insurance within 30 days of the release of the license.
You may refer to the needed affidavit in the Department’s approved application packages. If you become a license holder, you must maintain the present property damage, liability insurance, and workers’ compensation as mandated by rule 61G4-15.003, F.A.C.
Pass the Florida General Contractor Exam
You must pass the Florida general contractor exam to get the license and practice your career as a general contractor. You may choose from the Florida contractor license types listed below:
Division I contractors
You may take this exam if you want to become a general, residential, or building contractor, tower specialty, and industrial facility contractor. It would be best if you got a 70% passing rate. The exam has three categories: project management, contract administration, and business and finance.
Division II contractors
If you want the air conditioning, commercial and residential spa or pool, roofing, and general plumbing contractor, this is the exam you need to take.
The exam has two parts: business and finance and trade knowledge. You will be exempted from the trade knowledge part of the exam if you graduate from an accredited 4-year bachelor’s degree program with at least a 3.0 GPA.
During the exam, you may be allowed to open your notes, and the items are in multiple-choice that you may answer either written or by computer. The exam may take four to eight hours, so you better bring your food and water. The exam is scheduled for February, April, June, August, October, and December. As much as possible, you must submit your application 30 days before the scheduled date of the exam. You must bring all the necessary documents during the Florida general contractor exam.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a G.C. License in Florida?
If you think you have all the requirements to apply for a general contractor license in Florida, you may complete your application form and pay the fee of $150-$250. You may pay the licensing fee in cash or check to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Once you complete your application with the necessary documents and fees, you may submit it through a snail-mail or email.
Can You Get a Contract License Without Experience?
There are states which do not require a license for you to be a contractor, and they are listed below:
- New Hampshire
- New York
Also, there are some ways how to be a general contractor even without the experience and license, especially in Florida.
Use “RMO” or “R.M.E.” license
Suppose you are passionate about becoming a general contractor, but you do not have enough experience. It seems like you are borrowing the licenses of professional general contractors to do the job. You can partner with RMO (Responsible Managing Officer) or R.M.E. (Responsible Managing Employee). They also take responsibility for any legal challenges under their license and inform the board regarding this.
The difference is that if you partner with RMO, you can use the license and have a high-paying project of over $500. With R.M.E., you use the permit and, at the same time, make the contractor an employee until the project is completed.
Use a grandfathered contractor license
Did your grandfather or father retire from being a general contractor? If yes, then you can use their license. Some states allow retired contractor to pass their license to the new contractor. However, you still need to pass the Florida general contractor exam to have your license. This method is only ideal if your family has a construction business. Still, you can use this method if you take over a retiring general contractor and his company.
Partner with a licensed contractor
Do you have a friend who has a general contractor license? If yes, then you can create a general construction company using his license. However, you still need to pass the Florida general contractor exam to have your license. You may apply for a large contract when creating your own company with a licensed contractor. This way will also help you gain experience to have your license.
Request for a waiver from the licensing board
Although this is rarely done, you may request a waiver from the licensing board so you can apply for a license without experience. You may consult the local licensing authority to determine if you qualify for the waiver.
Have more experience
While you prepare for the licensure exam, you may get more experience. You may enroll in an apprenticeship or work under a licensed general contractor who may show you how to run the business, which will help you when you have your own. In this way, you will get valuable experience and skills, even if this may take longer and may only allow you to work on low-paying projects.
How Hard is it to Get a Contractor’s License in Florida?
Because a general contractor carries a huge responsibility, it takes adequate time, money, and effort to get the license. Although it is not required to finish your bachelor’s degree, it would be best if you have one. This manner will lessen your required number of work experience for you to apply for the license. If you opt to go to a trade school, you still need enough years of experience.
You needn’t only to provide adequate experience and educational background; you also need to prove that you are financially stable with no criminal liabilities. Additionally, you must have your certificate of insurance and pass the exam. When you pass the exam, that’s the only time you can apply for the license.
There are two different Florida contractor license types, which are the registries and certifications. Although they go through the same department, they use various application processes. The other can let you work in the local area, while the other allows you to work statewide. Either way, they need you to pass the exam by getting a rate of at least 70% or more.
That doesn’t end there because after getting the license, you need to renew it every two years. Within those two years, you need to have 14 hours of continuing education. In the continuing education program, you will learn more about workplace safety measures, workers’ compensation, and other business practices. You may need to prepare the renewal fee of $209 and an additional $50 per business. It is necessary to monitor your renewal schedule so that you won’t encounter any problems later.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Get Your General Contractor License in Florida?
How to get your general contractor license in Florida can be a complicated process. However, if this is the career path you want to take, then you can beat all the challenges and requirements needed. Obtain a strong foundation in education, earn the required years of experience, ensure you have a good moral character and stable financial history without any criminal liabilities, pass the Florida general contractor exam and apply for the license. Do not forget that once you have your license, you need to renew it every two years. Within those two years, complete your 14 hours continuing education program. Yes, it can be difficult, but with hard work, dedication, and perseverance, you will become a successful general contractor willing to provide quality services.