How to Become a Contractor in Florida – Get your Florida contractor license

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida ranks among the top states for construction jobs in the country. With a large influx of new residents and plenty of renovations on old and new buildings alike, you may be wondering how to become a contractor in Florida. 

Florida offers two ways to legally work as a contractor in the state. If you want to work statewide, you’ll need a Certified License. For those who only want to work in their city, you can opt for a Registered License. Keep reading below for the details on how to acquire each one.

Do You Need a Contractor License in Florida?

If you plan to work as or act as a contractor in any capacity, you are required to be licensed in Florida. Licenses are distributed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).

Types of Contractor Licenses in FL

Florida offers well over 20 contractor licenses, so you’ll need to have a clear idea of what work you plan to complete before applying for a license. You’ll also need to decide between a state-wide Certified License or a city-limited Registered License. 

Both types offer licenses in:

  • Air conditioning
  • Building
  • General
  • Glass & Glazing
  • Mechanical
  • Plumbing
  • Pool/Spa
  • Residential
  • Roofing
  • Sheet Metal
  • Specialty
  • Underground Utility and Excavation

Here is a full list of all license types, as well as their legal definitions.

FL Contractor License Requirements

To receive your contractor license in Florida, you’ll need to:

  • Apply for the examination, making sure to meet all requirements
  • Take and pass your exam
  • Apply for licensure with the state or with your city, making sure to meet all requirements
  • Pay applicable fees

With so many contractor options, this article will focus on both the Certified and Registered General Contractor Licenses as examples. 

Getting Your Certified General Contractor License

The Certified General Contractor License allows you to work in any part of Florida. You are unlimited as to the type of work you can do and can contract for any activity requiring licensure.

  1. Apply for Examination

Before applying for this license, you’ll first need to apply for the examination. You can apply directly with the vendor or through the mail. 

General contractors will need to take a 3-part computer-based exam that includes Contract Administration, Project Management, and Business & Finance. This exam is administered in 3 sessions lasting 4.5 hours, 4.5 hours, and 6.5 hours. See here for guidelines on preparing for the exam. If you prefer paper tests, contact the exam vendor for more information.

To apply for the exam, you must be 18 or over and complete the application online or via mail. Keep in mind that you’ll also need at least 4 years of experience (work or work and college combined) to apply for licensure in Florida after the exam. 

After applying, you’ll receive instructions on how to pay for and schedule the exam. The fees are:

  • Registration fee: $135
  • Contract Administration Exam: $40
  • Project Management Exam: $40
  • Business & Finance Exam: $80
  1. Apply for Licensure

Once you’ve taken and passed the 3-part general contractor exam, you can apply for your licensure with the state. Be sure to apply within four years of passing the exam or you’ll have to retake it. 

Application requirements for Certified licensure in FL include:

  • Completing the application 
  • Meeting the experience requirements, which are ONE of the following:
    • 4-year degree and 1 year of work experience
    • 3 years of credited college courses and 1 year of experience as a foreman
    • 2 years of credited college courses, 1 year as a worker, and 1 year as a foreman
    • 1 year of credited college courses, 2 years as a worker, and 1 year as a foreman
    • 4 years of worker experience, of which at least 1 year must be as a foreman
    • Already hold an active residential or building contractor license for 4+ years
    • Special requirements for veterans are described on page 7 of the application
  • Providing proof of financial stability through a credit report
  • Having your fingerprints taken as part of the background check
  • Holding liability insurance 
  • Holding Worker’s Compensation or an exemption
  • Paying all required fees, listed on page 1 of the application
  • Providing your Social Security Number

If you have a license from a reciprocating state, follow these application instructions.

Getting Your Registered General Contractor License

Registered General Contractors are licensed to work only within their city or municipality. 

  1. Receive a Certificate of Competency

Instead of a state exam, Registered Contractors must pass a local licensing exam in their city. Each city has different work experience requirements you must meet to take the exam. 

After passing the exam, you’ll receive a Certificate of Competency that allows you to apply for a registered license. 

For more information on your jurisdiction’s examination policies, reach out to your city’s licensing board. 

  1. Apply for Licensure

Once you’ve passed the exam and received your Certificate of Competency, you can complete your licensure application. To do so, you must:

  • Be 18+
  • Pay the fees listed on page 1
  • Have your fingerprints taken as part of the background check
  • Provide proof of financial stability through a credit report
  • Hold liability insurance 
  • Have Worker’s Compensation or an exemption

Florida Contractor License Renewals

You can use the DBPR’s online services to renew your license. Renewal fees depend on the year of renewal and if you’re renewing as a sole proprietor or a company.  

Certified Contractors should renew by August 31st of every even-numbered year. Registered Contractors must renew by August 31st of every odd-numbered year. 

All contractors need to complete 14 hours of Continuing Education (CE) every 2 years. At least 1 hour should be obtained in EACH area below:

  • Workplace Safety
  • Wind Mitigation
  • Worker’s Compensation
  • Business Practices
  • Laws and Rules
  • Advance Building Code

The leftover hours can cover any topic above. Certain counties, such as Miami-Dade, require additional hours of CE for Registered Contractors. Always check with your city if you’re renewing a Registered Contractor License.

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