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Contractor’s jobs have never been in more demand. Housing markets around the state are hot. That means folks who’ve just moved into new houses will want renovations, and folks who aren’t content with someone else’s dream home will want to start drawing up plans to construct their own. Jobs are being created faster than licensed professionals can be hired for them.

That’s in no small part due to the challenging and involved process of becoming a licensed contractor in the state. Each state in the nation has its own requirements of contractors before they can take on independent work, and there are even different kinds of licenses you can obtain that correspond to different types of work.

To get a sense of what it takes, read on to learn more about determining your preferred specialty, getting the right education and on-the-job experience, taking the Florida contractor license exam and obtaining your license, and finally building your business.

Determine what Specialty is Right for You

“Contractor” is an umbrella term to refer to anyone who takes on a job of over $500 in the realm of construction and renovation. There are as many as 44 different classifications of contractors. Some of the most popular include:

  • Electrical Work
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems)
  • Mechanical Engineering and Contracting
  • Pool/Spa
  • Roofing

To get the education and licensure you need to begin taking on jobs, you need to determine which path to pursue. An electrician is going to take a very different set of courses and needs to know an entirely different battery of information from a pool/spa maintenance technician.

Each trade also varies in pay, working conditions, whether you can work independently or as part of/supervisor to a team, and more. Factor all these in before you settle on one track.

Get the Education and On The Job Experience You Need

Almost any line of contracting is going to require education and experience before you take on jobs of your own.

Specific to Florida, it’s important to know there are two different types of licenses you can obtain that permit you to do two different types of work:

  1. A Registered Contractor refers to any contractor who has obtained certification to perform work in the locality in which they reside. In other words, less education, less experience, limited range in which you can perform work.
  2. A Certified Contractor refers to any contractor who has completed the Florida contractor license exam and is allowed to perform work in any locality within the state. In other words, you took the big test, and you get the big reward — you can work anywhere. 

Generally, you will need to undertake four years of education in a field pursuant to your trade at an accredited college or vocational school. Many also complete apprenticeship programs, which run about three years, but those aren’t mandatory for obtaining your license.

Obtain Your Certified Contractor’s License

This is the most important step in the process. You must complete the Florida contractor license exam before you supervise a crew, take on a job totaling more than $500 in expenses, or hire any employees.

The exam consists of one 4-hour and 45-minute paper and pencil section covering contractor essentials, and a supplemental specialty examination covering your chosen track. Most contractors in training looking forward to the exam invest in prep materials, courses, and plan rigorous study regimens ahead of time.

Get Your First Jobs and Build Your Business

Once you’ve obtained your Certified Contractor’s License you’re free to start taking jobs anywhere in the state. Contracting often makes for healthy, enduring, highly rewarding careers, and undertaking these three steps, though time-consuming, sets you up for the rest of your life.