How to Become a Contractor in Massachusetts – MA Contractor License

Massachusetts is filled with history and opportunity, making it a great home to all residents. If you’re living or moving to Massachusetts and looking into a career as a contractor, you’re in the right place. 

To become a contractor in Massachusetts, you’ll need to register as a home improvement contractor with the state and/or get your MA Construction Supervisor License. These are not interchangeable and the one you need depends on the type of contractor work you plan to do. 

Keep reading to learn whether registration or licensure will work best for you. 

Do You Need a Contractor License in Massachusetts?

If you or your business plan to perform residential contracting or subcontracting on 1- to 4-unit owner-occupied residential property in MA, you must be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC). 

Construction Supervisor Licenses, on the other hand, are required for the following construction projects:

  • 1- and 2-family homes and/or structures on the same property
  • Most existing 1- to 4-family owner-occupied homes
  • Buildings <35,000 cubic feet (enclosed)

Home Improvement Contractor Registration and Construction Supervisor Licenses are not interchangeable. You may be required to hold one or both for your contractor work. This guide can help you determine which you will need.

In some cases, a registered design professional (RDP) can replace the Construction Supervisor requirement. Massachusetts does not recognize contractors from out of state.

MA Home Improvement Contractor Registration

Home improvement contractors (HICs) may reconstruct, alter, renovate, repair, modernize, convert, improve, remove, demolish, or add to any pre-existing owner-occupied building of up to 4 dwelling units. 

You can register as a home improvement contractor individually, as a sole proprietor, as a partnership, or on behalf of a corporation. If you have a trade name or official business, you’re required to hold a business certificate with your city and/or be registered with the state before applying.

HIC registrations are overseen by the MA Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Registration. 

Application Process

HIC registration can be completed online by creating an account on the MA portal or by downloading and mailing in the application. 

When completing your application, be sure to include:

  • Your Federal Tax ID Number
  • Documents related to your entity (partnership, corporation, etc.) as listed on page 1 of the application 
  • A $150 registration fee paid by credit card (online), check (via mail), or money order (via mail).
  • The Guaranty Fund fee, which is based on your business size 
    • 0-3 employees: $100
    • 4-10 employees: $200
    • 11-30 employees: $300
    • More than 30 employees: $500

If completing your application by hand, you can mail it, your payment, and supporting documents to:

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation

Home Improvement Contractor Program

1000 Washington Street

Suite 710

Boston, MA 02118

After submitting all required documentation and payments, you’ll receive your HIC registration in about 2 weeks. 

More information about changing your registration address, requesting duplicate cards, and more can be found here. 

For additional information or assistance with your HIC registration, contact the Consumer Hotline at 617-973-8787 or the toll-free Consumer Hotline at 888-283-3757.

Renewals

HIC Registrations must be renewed every two years. You can begin the renewal process up to 60 days before expiration. You can easily create an online account and renew it from your home, or use the same account you created if you initially registered online.

Renewals cost $100 plus a Guaranty Fund payment depending on how many employees you have. 

Renewal guaranty rates are as follows:

  • 0-3 employees: $100
  • 4-10 employees: $200
  • 11-30 employees: $300
  • More than 30 employees: $500

If you apply more than 30 days after your registration’s expiration date, you will have to pay $150 instead of $100. This is called a “reapplication.”

MA Construction Supervisor License

Construction Supervisor Licenses (CSLs) are issued by the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Licensure. There are 8 types of CSLs. 

  • Unrestricted CSL: is for general construction, alteration, removal, or demolition of all buildings <35,000 cubic feet
  • 1- and 2-Family Dwelling CSL: is for work on 1- and 2-family homes
  • Specialty CSL: is for work on masonry structures requiring a permit
  • Specialty Roof Covering CSL: is for work on roofs, including 25% sheathing replacement and 25% sistering roof rafter replacement
  • Specialty Windows Doors Siding CSL: is for work on doors, windows, and siding, including repairing and replacing damaged windows/door framing <4’ wide and up to 25% sheathing
  • Specialty Fuel-Burning Appliance CSL: allows for installing solid fuel-burning appliances
  • Specialty Demolition CSL: is only for demolition work
  • Specialty Insulation CSL: is for installing insulation and repairing and replacing sheathing and siding

License Requirements

To apply for your CSL, you’ll need at least 3 years’ experience in the construction field. This experience must be full-time and from the last decade. 

  • A 3- or 4-year vocational high school or another program in construction counts as one year of work experience
  • A bachelor’s degree counts as one year of experience
  • A bachelor’s degree in architecture, science, engineering, technology, or a related field counts as 2 years’ work experience
  • Construction-related military experience is considered full-time work experience 

Education can only count toward 2 years of work experience. Work experience can be proved through transcripts, W-2s, 1099s, or a letter of attestation from your previous supervisor. 

Application Process

To receive your CSL, you’ll need to follow these steps. 

  1. Determine which license type you need
  2. Prove 3 years of experience in construction 
  3. Register for your contractor’s exam through Prometrics online or via mail
    1. Wait 10 days for processing, then find out your exam date by calling 800-813-6671
  4. Take and pass the exam
  5. Mail your passing score to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards

Renewals

CSLs must be renewed online, in-person, or via mail every two years for $100. 

You have a one-year grace period after expiration for renewal, after which you can renew for an additional $100 up to 2 years post-expiration. If your license is expired for more than 2 years you will have to take the exam over and reapply for a new license.

Before renewal, you will need to complete Continuing Education (CE) requirements. 

  • General CSLs: 12 CE hours
  • 1- and 2-Family Dwelling CSLs: 10 hours
  • Specialty CSLs: 6 hours

More information on approved CE companies and course requirements can be found here.

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