Are you thinking about starting a construction company in Florida? If so, there are a wide range of administrative and state requirements you’ll need to complete to become certified. One step is getting your general contractor’s license.
While the licensing process can be daunting, anyone with the ambition and patience can pass through all the requirements and eventually become a licensed contractor.
Once you’re registered, you can take on high-paying jobs and expand your business as a general contractor throughout the Sunshine State. Here’s a neat little guide on how to be on the fast track to becoming a general contractor in Florida.
Florida General Contractor License Requirements
All general contractor’s licenses are under the oversight of the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board. These government officials review and approve applicants to ensure they meet all the state requirements to perform the duties and responsibilities of general contractors in Florida.
Business Entity Registration
If you’re planning on becoming a contractor in Florida, the first thing you need to do is register a business entity. You need to register with the Florida Divisions of Corporations for standard entities (LLC, corporation, or partnership). Small businesses need to register with the Department of Revenue.
Proof of Financial Stability
Your business has to have proof of financial stability to perform your duties as a general contractor. This financial standing verification includes submitting a personal and business credit score to ensure you have the funds to conduct your services. If your score is below 660, you’ll need to apply for a surety bond.
Work Experience and Passing the Exam
Gaining work experience is an essential requirement for getting licensed. In Florida, you’ll need to prove that you have at least four years of experience working in the trade for which you are getting a license.
One of the four years must be supervisory experience, and the remaining three can constitute an apprentice or college credit. Some licenses require additional experience, so you’ll need to double-check the regulations regarding the specific license you wish to obtain.
Next, you’ll need to take and pass the Florida Licensing exam. The exam consists of a wide variety of questions about what it takes to be a reliable general contractor. While the exam can be rigorous, you can pass it along as you study the educational materials.
How to Apply for a General Contractor’s License in Florida
To apply for a general contractor’s license in Florida, you’ll need to submit a vast array of personal and financial documents.
Submit Application and License Fees
The first step is to submit the application and pay the initial registration and licensing fees:
- $149 if you apply between September 1st and April 30th (even years)
- $249 if you apply between May 1st and August 31st (odd years)
- $209 if you apply between September 1st and April 30th (even years)
- $309 if you apply between May 1st and August 31st (odd years)
Make your check payable to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. You’ll need to submit the application by mail to:
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
2601 Blair Stone Road
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0783
Provide Your Insurance Information and Proof of a Surety Bond
Here are the financial requirements you need to submit to obtain a Florida general contractor’s license:
Show Proof of Worker’s Compensation Insurance
If your construction business plans to hire employees, you’ll need to have worker’s compensation insurance. This insurance coverage pays out any employees that are injured or disabled as a result of their job.
Purchase Liability and Property Damage Insurance
The Construction Industry Licensing Board also requires that businesses have the correct liability and property damage coverage.
Here’s what the board requires:
- $50,000 property damage and $300,000 liability for a general contractor’s license
- $25,000 property damage and $100,000 liability for other types of licenses
Liability insurance protects a business from paying out any damages to people and property during a project. Property damage coverage is a type of liability insurance that specifically covers damage to other people’s property, vehicles, or belongings.
Obtain a Surety Bond
Above, we mention that you’ll need to obtain a surety bond if your credit score is below 660. A surety bond is a type of security that ensures that your business has the financial means to complete its projects.
The amount of the bond you need depends on which kind of license you wish to obtain. For a commercial and residential general contractor’s license, you’ll need a bond of at least $20,000.
Your business is responsible for paying the bond’s premium. Premium percentages vary depending on your finances. The higher your credit score, the lower the premium you’ll need to pay and vice versa. The average premium rate on a surety bond is between 0.7% and 5%.
Florida also gives you the opportunity to reduce your bond amount by 50% if you take a 14-hour Florida Financial Responsibility course. This will make your bond requirement be $10,000.
How to Prepare for Your General Contractor Exam in Florida
As you can see from the information above, becoming a certified general contractor in Florida takes much more than filling out a job application and nailing an interview. You’re essentially starting your own business and need to complete several processes to get your license.
One of the most vital steps is passing your contractor license exam. Without passing your exam, you won’t be able to submit your application to become a licensed Florida general contractor.
The general contractor license exam is no walk in the park, but it is passable if you study hard and use the right approach.
Here are some tips to get you in the right mindset and improve your chances of passing your test the first time around:
Know What’s on the Exam
Think about your exam as you did for any other test you took in high school or college. It’s going to be long, rigorous, and require a lot of focus and studying. It’s vital that you understand the layout of the test before you take it, so you don’t have any sections that catch you off guard.
While it is an open-book exam, you still need to study and prepare to memorize all the material. The first part of the test is a computer-based test that you’ll take at a certified computer facility. It typically consists of questions about business, finance, and other administrative questions.
The second portion of the test consists of technical information, such as mathematics, reading, and other content related to your industry.
Create a Study Routine
One of the best ways to ensure you get enough study time is to develop a routine. The last thing you want to do is cram all your studying in a few days before your test. Make sure you set aside a reasonable amount of time in your schedule to allocate for studying for your exam.
Sit down and try to think of a time that works for you. If you’re working or going to school, maybe evenings are better when you can relax and focus solely on the material. If you’re a bit of an early riser, you can try getting an hour of studying each day before school/work.
Whatever your case may be, find a time that works and stick to it.
Study in the Right Environment
Sometimes, finding the perfect spot to study can be challenging. You don’t always have access to a quiet or comfortable area to hit the books, so work with the best you have. If you’re someone that prefers quiet, you can consider going to your local library.
If you don’t mind a bit of background noise, coffee shops are an excellent place to get some studying done. Don’t be afraid to change your spot either. You may find that you like studying in a coffee shop one week, but later decide that you want to go somewhere with a bit more privacy.
It also helps to try and eliminate distractions while studying. Try turning off your phone, TV, or anything else that may deter your attention from the exam material.
Give Yourself a Reward
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to reward yourself for reaching your study goals. For example, let’s say you want to get at least 10 hours of studying every week. After reaching your target, go hang out with friends or do something you enjoy.
However, be sure only to reward yourself if you achieve your goals. The only one that will hurt you is you.
Let a Professional Help You Get Certified!
No doubt, becoming a general contractor in Florida can be an incredibly lucrative and satisfying career. If you’re thinking about starting a construction business but need help passing your exam, Contractor Training Center can move you in the right direction.
We’ve helped countless people pass their exams, and we’d love to help you next. Our team consists of real professionals in the industry that know what it takes to get licensed.
Book a Start-Up Consultation with one of our dedicated licensing specialists today to learn more about our courses in Florida! We can help answer any questions you may have about the licensing process and guide you through Florida’s licensing process.