Curious about how to become a licensed contractor in Massachusetts, but you aren’t sure where to start?
The contracting industry is a growing one. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, projected job growth for construction laborers and helpers over the next ten years is 11%. That’s a ton of growth.
So how do you become part of this thriving industry?
Well, don’t stress—we’ve broken the process down for you in this comprehensive guide.
Becoming a licensed contractor in Massachusetts has a fair share of requirements, like any state-run process. But with this guide at your side, you’re equipped with everything you need to know.
Let’s jump right in!
When is a contractor’s license required?
Hint: It’s always required!
In the state of Massachusetts, contractors need to meet the experience and education requirements from the Massachusetts State Board of Building Regulations and Standards. In other words, the state handles all contractor licenses, not each city.
All contractors must also pass the contractor’s exam. We’ll cover that in more detail later on.
Here are a few crucial things you need to know:
- If you want to launch your own contracting business, you’re required to register with the Massachusetts Secretary of State and produce the correct documents and permits.
- The contracting work you want to do will determine what type of license you’ll need to apply for.
- All contractors must be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor and/or licensed as a Construction Supervisor (which is dependent on the type of work you do) before starting any projects.
Let’s take a look at each Constructor Supervisor License (CSL) and the Home Improvement Contractor license in more detail, starting with the three types of CSLs.
This license is required for the supervision of construction work on one and two-family dwellings with additional accessory buildings or structures. This includes construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, removal, or demolition.
An unrestricted license covers buildings—regardless of how they’re used—that are less than 35,000 cubic feet. Like the restricted license, this covers construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, removal, or demolition. For more details on the specifications of this license, visit the State of Massachusetts website.
Lastly, we have the Specialty CSL. This license covers all Unrestricted CSLs, including:
- Windows, Doors, and Siding
- Roof Covering
- Solid Fuel Burning Appliances
For a detailed look at the classification of the Specialty CSLs, visit the State of Massachusetts Board of Building Regulation and Stanards.
Now, on to the Home Improvement Contractor classification.
Home Improvement Contractor
If you’re planning on doing jobs like exterior painting, wallpapering, and patio repairs, you’ll need to register for your Home Improvement Contractor license. Typically, you’ll need both the Home Improvement Contractor license and the Construction Supervisor license.
For trades like plumbers, electricians, lead abatement, and asbestos abatement you must have the proper licenses as well.
What are the requirements for licensure?
Now that we know what types of licenses there are let’s talk about the requirements.
If this is your first time applying, you’ll need to provide the following information:
- The type of license you are applying for
- Your work experience with the proper documentation
- Your exam registration form
- Your passing exam scores
While applying, you can register as an individual, a proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. For the Construction Supervisor’s License, you must pay a fee of $150 per license. The Home Improvement Contractor’s Licensing fee is $150 as well, but with a mandatory fee—depending on the size of your business—to the Guaranty Fund to complete your application.
The Guaranty Fund fee breakdown is as follows:
- 0 - 3 employees: $100
- 4 - 10 employees: $200
- 11 - 30 employees: $300
- 30+ employees: $500
If you’re applying under a trading name, you must submit a current copy of your business certificate that corresponds with the city or town your business is based on.
If you have any questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation at 617-973-8787 or the toll-free number at 888-283-3757.
Taking the exam.
The contractor’s exam is part of the application process and it’s mandatory to receive your license.
Prometic a global testing agency, administers all contractor’s license exams. It’s important to note that you must submit your exam registration before scheduling your exam. Once your exam registration has been accepted, you can schedule your exam all within the Prometric website.
You must get at least a 70% on the general knowledge exam, as well as on the Massachusetts State Billing Code requirements. However, if you have test-fright, the exam is open book and is multiple choice.
After you receive your score, send your passing exam report to:
The Division of Professional Licensure
1000 Washington St, Suite 710
Boston, MA, 02118.
Get business insurance, liability coverage, and a construction bond.
Part of being a savvy (and responsible) business owner is preparing for the worst. Business insurance, liability insurance, and construction bonds ensure you’re prepared for everything and anything.
Business insurance is the coverage a business owner can purchase to protect themselves from losses, liability, and unforeseen events like theft.
Liability insurance covers any costs that come with any third-party accidents, damage, or bodily harm.
Lastly, construction bonds are a safeguard that kicks in if a project fails to complete or if there is another issue that results in a cost to the customer. The company that issued the bond will cover the expenses, and then ask the party that took out the bond for reimbursement.
All three are essential in operating a successful, profitable business.
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Renewing your contractor’s license
When it comes time to renew your license, you have a few options. However, before you can submit your application for renewal, you must fulfill the continuing education courses.
The license renewal fee is $100 for each license, and there’s a one-year grace period to renew your license after it expires. If your license has been expired for more than two years, you’ll have to retake the exam and get a new license.
You can renew your license in three ways:
- Online: Log in or create an account on the Consumer Affair and Business Regulation site.
- Mail or email: Complete the request for a renewal application and email it to [email protected] or via mail at P.O. Box 414376, Boston, MA 02241-4376.
- In-person: You can renew your license in person at 1000 Washington St., Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118.
There you have it! If you have more questions about contractor licensing, the process, or the requirements, leave a comment below!
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