Being a general contractor comes with many different responsibilities, deadlines and tasks to juggle. As the one responsible for the supply of materials, labor and all equipment for various projects, it can really become a handful.
Despite all the challenges that come with the job, being a general contractor is a career that many find extremely rewarding. If this sounds like something you’d enjoy and you’re currently residing in Florida, you should know that the steps to becoming one are crucial yet attainable for sure!
General Contractor License in Florida
First, let’s talk about the general contractor license in Florida and its types. The general contractor license in Florida is seen as a very prestigious license sought after by aspiring contractors.
It is the license that enables you to work on the trades on your construction projects. It allows you to legally sub-out work to other licensed subcontractors.
What Can a General Contractor Do?
When you have a license to work as a general contractor in Florida, you have the freedom to restructure a home, remodel a commercial building or build a residential property.
You may do all this regardless of how many and how big the projects are. Having this license enables you to do any and all construction work for a variety of clients. Even simple jobs such as warranty repairs of wood shingles or fixing shingle roofing are included among the job responsibilities of a general contractor.
When it comes to other specialized tasks such as plumbing, air conditioning, or roofing, a general contractor license doesn’t allow employees to do work like this. A contractor must sub-contract these jobs to those licensed in that particular trade.
Florida Contractor License Types
In Florida, there are two types of licenses to choose from. These are offered by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board which runs under the DBPR or Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The two classifications are as follows:
- Certified License – A certified license allows you to work anywhere within the state of Florida. It is more expensive than the registered license
- Registered License – A registered license allows you to work only within certain local counties or local jurisdictions in Florida
These two classifications allow you to apply for even more specific licenses. Here are the three specific licenses you can go for.
- Building Contractor – for construction services that focus on or are limited to commercial or residential buildings that don’t exceed three stories in height
- Residential Contractor – for construction services that are limited to one-family, two-family, or three-family residences that don’t exceed two stories in height
- General Contractor – for construction services that are not limited to any structure, size, or type
Classroom General Contractor Courses
If you feel like your learning style works better face-to-face with a live instructor, classroom courses would work the best for you. In these, you have live instructors to guide you all throughout. They can easily be approached if you have any questions or need clarifications about a certain topic.
A general contractor course may include weekday classes, weekend exam reviews and workshops. They may also provide with you study manuals to help you with the course. And just like any regular school, they may also give you multiple practice exams to ensure that you are learning everything that needs to be learned.
Lastly, they also have a mock exam simulation which is crucial for you to take since this prepares you for the actual state exam. Of course, before this, they prep you with time management techniques and how to spot and handle trick questions that you will definitely encounter in the state exam.
Online General Contractor Courses
Feeling the burden of face-to-face classes? There are other kinds of classes that cater to your needs! Think about enrolling in online contractor courses.
In an online general contractor course, you can study at your own pace. It offers a flexible schedule which is the best for those with a lot going on each day. Institutions for these often provide instructor-led sessions along with a complete program that discusses what you learn in the face-to-face program.
The best part is that you can learn all this in the comfort of your home at your convenience. Just like regular classes, they may also give you access to practice exams and as well as online modules which will guide you throughout the learning process.
Florida General Contractor Exam
For you to get your license, passing the Florida general contractor exam is an integral step. This exam is administered through Professional Training, inc.
To give you a little insight into how the exam is structured, it consists of three parts. These three are required for you to pass:
- Project Management
- Contract Administration
- Business and Finance
The project management and contract administration parts can both be taken in different cities namely, Tallahassee, Orlando and Miami.
The business and finance part can easily be taken online. If you’ve been a studious type of person, there’s some great news for you. Applicants with academic excellence are exempted from the project management and contract administration part of the exam!
First, it’s required to have a baccalaureate degree in construction building or any degree approved by board rules.
Second, this degree must come from an accredited 4-year college.
Third, the applicant must have attained a 3.0 or higher GPA.
The exam is scheduled in February, April, June, August, October, and December, and applicants are required to pay a $135 registration fee along with an $80 exam site admin fee.
If you plan to be a registered licensed contractor, you can ditch the exam and present a Certificate of Competency instead.
This is a certificate that verifies that an individual has the competency or ability to perform a certain task properly and safely. This is issued by any jurisdiction’s local building authority that you wish to work in.
What Are the Requirements?
The minimum age to become a contractor is 18 years old. You must pass a background check which examines if you have a clean background.
Experience, field training, and apprenticeship
Some of the requirements include:
- Four-year construction-related degree from an accredited college
- One year of experience regarding the category applied for
- One year of experience as a foreman
- One year of experience as a worker
- Two years of credits from an accredited college
Areas of construction that satisfy GC experience requirements:
- Must possess at least a year of experience in the construction of a minimum of four stories in height
- The Certified General Contractor License Required Experiences:
- Masonry walls
- Precast concrete structures
- Column erection
- Foundation with more than 200 sq ft.
- Elevated slabs
- Structural reinforced concrete formwork
- Steel erection
Financial and credit
You may be wondering, what do finance, and credit have to do with being a general contractor? The Florida Contractor Board must see that you are in good financial status.
You must maintain a net income of around $2,500-$20,000. However, this may vary depending on the level of classification you are applying for.
For this, you must present bank statements and a credit score report from the last 12 months. Make sure that the credit reports include the credit score, and it must also indicate that the state, local and federal records are checked.
If your credit score is below 660, you can still find a way by submitting a bond or irrevocable letter of credit.
You must also get liability insurance that covers bodily injury and property damages. Having this assures you that if ever anything bad happens, you will be financially secure. It is required to have a coverage of at least $300,000 for bodily injuries and $50,000 for property damages.
You must have documents from your insurance provider to prove that you are covered. An affidavit is signed to confirm that you have obtained insurance coverage for workers’ compensation insurance, public liability insurance and property damage insurance.
Good moral character/criminal background
Every individual aspiring for a license in whatever field is required to have a certificate of good moral character issued by the Construction Industry Licensing Board or CILB.
For this, it is required to submit fingerprints for the criminal background check to be conducted. If the CILB denies an applicant for this, they must provide a statement for the basis or reason for its denial through a complete record of evidence.
The CILB must also provide a notice of the rehearing and appellate rights of the applicant.
What Are the Basic Steps?
Here are the basic steps to take if you want to obtain a certified contractor license:
- Download and complete the application form for the examination
- If you pass the exam, download, and answer the application for either an individual or qualified business
- Prepare the documents needed: Credit score reports and evidence of experience and education
Here are the steps for obtaining a registered contractor license:
- Download and complete the application form for the examination
- If you pass the exam or have attained a Certificate of Competency, download, and complete the full application for either an individual general contractor or a qualifying business
- Prepare the required documents: A credit score report or a copy of the Certificate of Competency from the local jurisdiction, if you preferred this alternative over the examination
The application forms should be sent to:
State of Florida
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
1940 North Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783
Know Your Risks
Just like any other job, general contractors are faced with different risks each day. Because of this, you should be cautious and knowledgeable of the career path you are diving into.
Great risks will always be there so to better understand these risks, it’s good to talk to a licensed contractor who has been in the field for a while and can advise you. Knowing your risks will help you plan out the steps you need to take and the mistakes you need to avoid.
There are certain steps you need to take to become a licensed general contractor, but it boils down to completing the application form, taking the exam, and passing the requirements.
Of course, all that takes a lot of preparation. So, get ready and gear up! If you want to be in with the latest trends and insights on all aspects of construction, sign up for our newsletter now!