Whether you’ve been breaking your back on the job for years, or just starting out in the construction industry, getting your builder’s license will help you on your path to success. The process for getting your builder’s or contractor’s license varies from state to state. No matter your location there are resources available for getting licensed.
Here are the steps involved in getting a building license. (Some states will vary, but these are the basics. check your state licensing requirements)
Step 1 – Complete Your Pre-license Education / Exam Prep – Depending on your state, there may be educational requirements that need to be completed before you can take your licensing exam. Some states allow you to take the licensing exam as soon as you feel confident with the time invested in study while others require State-approved education. For example, Michigan requires 60 hours of pre-license education and Oregon requires 16 before you can sit for the exam. In addition, there may be financial or experience requirements such as those in Virginia and Utah. If you don’t know your state requirements you can check them here: State Requirements and FAQs
Generally, it costs at least $100.00+ (always non-refundable) to sit for a licensing exam. There are some states that require a minimum number of days before you can retake a failed exam like Minnesota with a 30 day waiting period. So taking the time to complete an exam prep course is always a money saver, time saver and a good idea.
Step 2 – Send in the License Application – the license application for your state can be found by going to your state’s website. Providers of exam prep courses should have a link to State applications along with the exam prep information in the course instructions. The applications are generally available for download so you can print them from home. Once the application is filled in completely, send it to the appropriate office (stated on the application) along with the licensing fee (also listed on the application). Double check your application before mailing or you could be waiting weeks until it is put back on the processing fast track! It generally takes 2-4 weeks for a problem free application to be processed.
Keep in mind that your state, like Wisconsin, may require one application for the builder and one for the business. Michigan also requires a second application to tie your builder’s license to your Corporation or LLC. And naturally, each application has a fee of its own.
Step 3 – Taking the Licensing Exam – Register with your state’s testing company to sit for your licensing exam. The examination company may be nationwide like PSI which covers Alabama, Arizona, and Utah, to name a few, or Prometric which tests in Massachusetts and Oregon. Or the exam may be state administered as in Minnesota.
Most commonly, you are required to take two exams: Business/Law and Trades. There are a few states such as Maryland that require only the Business and Law for their Remodeler’s License. Check with your state to verify their requirements and study accordingly.
Your exams can be “no books allowed” as in Michigan, or they may provide the book as in Minnesota. “Open book exams” where you are allowed to take books into the exam with you are the norm for many states including Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia. The testing agencies are very specific on which books are accepted. Your exam prep provider should have this information or you can contact the testing agency or the state.
Once I have my builder’s license, how do I make sure it doesn’t expire?
When the state requires continuing education, the State will send or email you a renewal notice which should arrive 3 to 6 months before your renewal date. The renewal notice may have a box to check and a place to sign confirming that you have completed the required continuing education, as in Michigan. Other states such Massachusetts and Kentucky require that the Certificates of Completion for your continuing education be sent in with your renewal fee. Some states like Florida, Oregon, and Wisconsin, require the continuing education provider to submit student completion information directly to the state. Regardless, make sure you always receive a Certificate of Completion for every continuing education course immediately after completion. Always retain the certificate just in case of an audit. Your CE provider should also be able to provide accurate records of your CE history.
To learn more about construction education visit us at www.certifiedtraininginstitute.com
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