Construction: General Licensing and Certification for Construction Advancement
Construction Management Certification
Designations such as Certified Construction Manager or Certified Professional Constructor are credentials that ensure the holder understands regulatory, insurance, management, safety, estimating and environmental aspects as they apply to the industry. Generally, these certificates cover light construction (residential and small office buildings) as well as heavy construction (large office buildings, infrastructures and facilities).
Some areas usually included in coursework for the certificate are:
- Project cost determination
- Establishing schedules
- Applying time value of money concepts
- Interpreting construction material properties and standards
- Performing managerial functions
- Gaining perspective on emerging issues in construction
State governmental departments generally break down the construction industry into different trade classifications. To operate a business under one of these classifications, the individual must acquire a related Contractor's License. In addition, many states require a contractor's license for individuals/firms bidding on projects over a set amount of money.
While certain contractor's license requirements tend to be the same from one part of the country to the next, each state has its own set of building laws and codes. Because of these variances, contractors in most construction occupations must take an exam specific to that region's building legislation. Those who want to specialize in a specific trade area can take tests later for additional licensing credentials.
Trade Specific Licensing and Certification
The following licensing and certification information targets the more popular fields in the construction industry:
Masonry (Brick, Block and Stone)
This certification, available through the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), is designed to display the mason's expertise and commitment to quality. The MCAA spearheaded this credential to halt low bidding and stop unqualified mason contractors from damaging industry standards. In turn, this certification provides construction clients with a measurable tool to gage a mason's knowledge and professional know-how.
According to the MCAA, the overall benefit of this certification is that it lets firms stand out over competitors when architects, specifiers and design experts seek quality. It's important to note that while the Masonry Certification applies to the entire firm, it must be earned by the owner of the business.
(General) Electrician License
Surprisingly, not all states require electricians to carry a license. In order to receive the credential, the professional must take a state exam. In most cases, the state offers different classes of electrician license, the categories based on the applicants experience level. For instance, Electrical Contractor, Master Electrician, Journeyman, Apprentice and Special Electrician designations apply to areas like residential, sign installation, irrigation system wiring, etc.
Electrician Licenses help insure public health and safety by identifying qualified people enlightened about the trade. Even more appealing to some, licensed electricians earn more money, according to industry experts.
Those who choose to pursue licensing should first visit their local building department, planning and development office, bureau of building inspection, etc. While requirements for the Electrician License vary from state to state, most exams cover the areas of electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, and local electric and building codes.
Journeyman Electrician License/Certification
After an electrician student graduates from trade school, he or she takes on an apprenticeship with a firm, which often provides on-the-job training in conjunction with additional classroom instruction. These apprenticeship programs are usually sponsored by local chapters of electrical unions and electrical trade associations. The Journeyman Electrician License indicates that the holder has worked under such an apprenticeship program usually for a minimum of five years (could differ based on state regulation). This often allows an individual to work on a jobsite unsupervised (as long as there is a licensed electrical contractor onsite).
This license indicates the electrician possesses the skill to install, alter, repair, add or change conductors, appliances, apparatus, fixtures, conduit, raceways and any device that generates, transforms or utilizes electrical energy.
Master Electrician/ Electrical Contractors License
This state-issued credential usually lets the journeyman take the next step in professional advancement. This license usually indicates that the holder has worked in electrical contracting for a minimum of seven years or possesses a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field. Additionally, at least five years of hands-on experience with tools and machines in wire repair for electric lighting, installation, alteration, and heat or power are required. Moreover, this process must be conducted in compliance with the National Electrical Code.
The five-years of hands-on-experience cannot include time spent in engineering, performing managerial tasks, estimating and supervising. Though each state holds its own standards and requirements, this license usually lets the electrician launch his business with the needed electrical permits and other paperwork.
- (General) Construction Supervisor License Since carpenters witness the entire building process, they make ideal candidates for this particular license. Generally, a Construction Supervisor License allows an individual to legally manage workers engaged in construction, repair, reconstruction, alteration, removal or demolition of certain buildings, as specified by state code.
Certified Green Professional (CGP)
This certification from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recognizes builders, remodelers, carpenters and other trade professionals who regularly use green building principles in home development. At the same time, CGP holders strive to keep project costs down.
CGP holders must fulfill 12 hours of continuing education every three years, with a minimum of eight hours through green building-related educational programs.
Journeyman Plumber License This credential typically means the professional has finished a four-year apprenticeship program, usually through a local chapter of a union or a trade association, or has other work experience, and has passed a state exam. This individual has experience utilizing tools for installation, maintenance, extension alteration repair and removal of all piping, plumbing appliances, plumbing fixtures and apparatus.
In most states, this license entitles the holder to work in the plumbing trade as an employee of a licensed plumbing contractor. Still, the title makes room for pay advancement. In fact, some experts say the Journeyman Plumber often makes nearly as much as the Master Plumber.
In certain states, the aspiring Journeyman Plumber might need to select a specific area of specialization. These could include: Drain Layer, Pipe Fitter, Sprinkler Fitter, Lawn Irrigation Installer and Water Heater Specialist.
- Master Plumber License This license usually allows the holder to pull permits for jobs, garnering a bit more money in the process. In many states, an individual must possess a Master Plumber License to run his own business. This license tells the customer that the individual possesses at least two years of full-time work as a licensed journeyman plumber. Application requirements and exams vary from state to state.
Certification for Cross Connection Control/ Backflow Prevention Testers
This credential, provided by the American Society of Sanitary Engineering (ASSE), aims to assure that only qualified professionals are testing, repairing and surveying backflow equipment. The certificate entails course work on suitable equipment.
According to ASSE, certified cross connection control/backflow testers, repairers and surveyors have a thorough knowledge of the history of plumbing as it pertains to backflow and cross-connections as well as the public health; regulations, statutes, ordinances and codes; backflow, back pressure and back siphonage; the proper testing of backflow prevention assemblies; the responsibilities of the general tester, water purveyor, and building safety departments; and documentation and safety.
How to Pursue General Licensing and Certifications
Construction Management Certification
Those who want to advance in this direction usually can find programs at universities specializing in construction and at some trade associations. The Certified Construction Manager designation is offered by an independent affiliate of the Construction Management Association of America, and the American Institute of Constructors offers the Certified Professional Constructor designation.
Most institutions expect students to complete coursework within five years of application. Usually there are no prerequisites other than qualifying education and/or equivalent work experience. These certifications are geared toward construction project planners and designers, project engineers, project managers, general construction managers, executive construction managers, construction superintendents, general superintendents and individuals seeking a new career path as construction consultants.
For those workers who decide to take the plunge into proprietorship and want to obtain a Contractor's License, the State Contractor Licensing Board (SCLB) makes a great starting point. To begin, the applicant must:
- Determine which license classification / code best applies to the line of service they offer.
- Sign up for a particular exam date - usually the subject focuses on two areas: trade/ business and law.
After taking these initial steps, the applicant should:
- Request information on seminars and available prep courses related to the exam. Trade schools and community colleges are a great place to find such services.
- Apply for the Contractor License through the SCLB after passing the exam. Many states offer same-day scoring for those eager to get the ball rolling.
- In most states, exam scores are valid for approximately one year. When the individual applies for the license, they will need to determine a business type or entity - Sole proprietor, LLC, Corporation, Partnership, etc. Depending on the state, an active Contractor License might need to be renewed (generally every two to three years).
Below is a list of contact information with links to each State Contractor Licensing Board. These departments of government usually provide study materials, preparation seminars or information packs for specific exams.
General Contractors Board
Division of Occupational Licensing
Arizona Registrar of Contractors
Contractors License Board
Contractors State License Board
Division of Professions and Occupations
Department of Consumer Protection
Division of Professional Regulation
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Department of Business and Professional Regulation
Professional Licensing Boards Division
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Division of Building Safety
Department of Professional Regulation
Indiana Professional Licensing Agency
Department of Economic Development
Kansas N/A (not required on state level)
Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction
Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors
Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
Professional & Occupational Licenses
Dept. of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Department of Labor and Industry
Mississippi State Board of Contractors
Missouri Business Portal
Department of Labor and Industry
Nebraska Department of Labor
Nevada State Contractors Board
Economic and Labor Market and Information Bureau
Division of Consumer Affairs
Regulation and Licensing Department
New York State Office for Technology Online Permit Assistance and Licensing
North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors
Secretary of State
Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board
Construction Industries Board
Construction Contractors Board
Department of Labor and Industry
Contractor's Registration and Licensing Board
South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation
Department of Labor and Regulation
Licenses & Permits
Department of Licensing and Regulation
Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing
Division of Public Safety
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Board for Contractors
Department of Labor & Industries
Department of Safety and Professional Services
Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety