What Is a General – Building – Residential Contractors License in Florida?

Woman working construction

Did you know that the construction labor market saw an increase in job openings in September of 2022? Despite economic activity for the housing market slowing down, contractors were still needed for major jobs.

General, Building and Residential Contractors are always needed in this economy. If you are seeking a new career in Florida with a bit more job security, this might be the ideal choice for you.

However, it’s not as simple as applying for a General, Building or Residential Contractor license. You will need to meet licensing requirements and obtain the proper education and experience.

What is a contractor’s license and how can you get one? Keep reading to find out.

What Is a Certified General Contractor License?

A Certified General Contractor is unlimited in the types of commercial or residential structures they can build. Some of the work can include:

  • New construction – residential and commercial
  • No building size or height restrictions
  • Grading, clearing, grubbing, and excavation
  • Repair and alterations
  • Additions
  • Demolition

Certified General Contractor services are unlimited as to the type of work they may do and this is the highest level of contractor licensure in Florida.

What Is a Certified Building Contractor License?

A Certified Building Contractor is limited in the commercial or residential structures they can build to up to three stories. Some of the work can include:

  • New construction – residential or commercial up to 3 stories in height
  • Grading, clearing, grubbing, and excavation
  • Repair and Alterations
  • Additions
  • Improvements of any size building if structural members not affected

Certified Building Contractor services are limited to construction of commercial buildings and single-dwelling or multiple-dwelling residential buildings, which do not exceed three stories in height.

What Is a Certified Residential Contractor License?

A Residential Contractor license allows you to complete various tasks on residential structures. Some of the work can include:

  • Grading, clearing, grubbing, and excavation
  • Repair and alterations
  • Remodeling
  • New residential construction
  • Additions
  • Improvements

Residential Contractor services are limited to work on detached one-family, two-family, or three-family residences not exceeding two habitable stories.

General Contractor License Requirements

In Florida, a person has to meet certain requirements before they can become a Certified General, Building or Residential Contractor. The prerequisites include:

  • Being at least 18 years of age
  • Passing all required state certification examinations
  • Meeting experience and educational requirements
  • Completing a background check
  • Obtaining public liability and property damage insurance

An applicant with a FICO derived credit score below 660 has to complete a 14-hour financial responsibility course approved by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB). Applicants also need to have either four years of experience under the supervision of a licensed contractor or up to three years of college credit plus one year experience as a foreman before obtaining a license.

Hiring a professional application processing services company is highly recommended so they can help you complete the application, pay all applicable fees and submit the required paperwork to the State of Florida for processing.

Florida Contractor License Types

To get a Certified Contractor’s License, the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board requires that you are approved at the state level. There are two classifications for this licensing:

  • Certified Contractor License – issued at the State level
  • Registered Contractor License – issued at the local level

Certified Contractor Licenses are valid throughout the state so that a contractor can work anywhere in Florida. Registered Contractor Licenses limit the contractor to work within specific local jurisdictions. A Registered Contractor may be eligible to upgrade to a Certified Contractor License if they have held the Registered license for 5 years or more.

Certified General – Building – Residential Contractor’s Work Experience

One of the main requirements for licensure as a Certified General, Building or Residential Contractor is proof of experience in the license category you are looking to obtain. Attesting to your experience is a mandatory part of the contractor license application process.

The amount of experience required to show on your application depends on the amount of accredited college credits, if any, you have obtained previously and/or years of service in the military. Neither college credits nor military service are requirements for licensure, but they can offset some of the mandatory experience prerequisites. If you do not have any accredited college credits or military service, the State of Florida will require that you prove a minimum of four years of active experience as a skilled worker who has learned the trade by serving as an apprentice under a licensed contractor. A minimum of one year of this experience has to be as a foreman.

If you have attended an accredited 4-year college, junior college, or community college in any jurisdiction, each year of credits would offset a year of the experience requirement up to a maximum of three years. In the case of a 4-year degree, you would still have to show one year of experience as a foreman. To be considered a foreman, you would have supervisory responsibilities over other skilled workers in categories relevant to the license you are looking to obtain.

The type of experience makes a difference in the contractor license application process. To be considered for a Certified General or Building Contractor License, you would have to attest to experience in a minimum of four of the following categories: Foundations or Slabs in excess of 20,000 square feet, Masonry walls, Steel erection, Elevated slabs, Column erection or Formwork.

To be considered for a Certified Residential Contractor License, you would have to attest to experience in a minimum of three of the following categories: Foundation/Slabs/Structural Formwork, Masonry walls, Structural demolition, Structural wood framing, or Column erection.

Florida General Contractor Exam

Those applying for a Certified Florida General, Building or Residential Contractors License must pass three mandatory state examinations. There are three parts to the exam process:

Part 1: Business & Finance Exam
Part 2: Contract Administration Exam
Part 3: Project Management Exam

All three exams are computer-based, multiple choice, and proctored at a third-party testing center. The Business & Finance exam is scored on 120 questions with 6.5 hours to complete. The Contract Administration and Project Management exams are between 45 and 60 questions, depending on the license type with 4.5 hours to complete each exam. The exams can be scheduled in any order and at a time, date and testing center location most convenient for you.

As part of our exam prep program, Gold Coast School of Construction offers hundreds of Simulated exam questions for each part to help you prepare for test day. These tools along with our live Instructor-led classes and tabbing and highlighting guides will give you the upper hand to pass all the exams for your license.

For Registered General, Building or Residential Contractor Licenses, reach out to the local jurisdiction in which you would like to work for more details on their exam and experience requirements.

Florida State Business Licenses and Registration

After taking the exams and applying for your General, Building or Residential Contractor License, you can work for another contracting company or start your own business. If you choose to open your own company, you may need to meet additional business license and registration requirements.

Depending on the type of contractor’s license you obtain, you will need to review all the options for setting up a corporation and determining the limits of property and liability insurance appropriate for the projects you want to complete.

Register and become licensed to do business in Florida after choosing a structure. A small business can register through the Florida Department of Revenue.

Various business structure options include:

  • Corporations
  • Non-profits
  • LLCs
  • Partnerships

For these structures, you will have to register through the Florida Division of Corporations.

Businesses in Florida have to register for one or more tax-specific identification numbers, permits, and licenses as well. Businesses that hire employees need to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

Become a Certified General – Building – Residential Contractor!

A new career doesn’t have to be scary. Now that you know how to get started, you can follow your dream.

If you’re ready to become a General, Building or Residential Contractor, you’ll need to meet Florida’s requirements and receive the right education and experience. From there, you can apply for your contractor license.

Need help finding the right courses? Gold Coast has the educational tools you need to achieve your career goals. Register now to start your contractor license journey!