Massachusetts Contractor Licenses
Are you planning to work as a contractor in Massachusetts? Read this guide to find out how you can be licensed to do so in this state.
To start with, it is important that you know that the state regulates work that are construction-related, including those that deal with electrical and plumbing systems.
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Do General Contractors Need a License?
While the state does not issue licenses specifically for general contractors, it does require contractors to acquire their Construction Supervisor license. In Massachusetts, this license is only issued by the Office of Public Safety and Inspections, which is under the Board of Building Regulation and Standards. To get in touch with them, you may contact any of their three offices in the state, which are located in Boston, Tewksbury, and Springfield. The Office’s headquarters is in Boston and can be found at 1000 Washington St, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118. Their satellite offices in Tewksbury and Springfield are located at the following addresses respectively: Tewksbury Hospital – Old Anne Sullivan Building, 365 East Street , Tewksbury, MA 01876 and One Armory Square , Building 15, 2nd Floor, Springfield, MA 01102. But to save you some time, you may also contact them through phone by calling (617) 727-3200 for the Boston office and (978) 513-9660 for the Tewksbury office. If you need to send a message to their office, you may send a fax to (617) 727-5732 and TTY to (617) 727-0019.
If you are just planning to work in the state as a Home Improvement Contractor, you should approach the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation for it. Their office has a dedicated program for these contractors. To be registered as one, you may contact their consumer hotlines at 888-283-3757 toll-free or 617-973-8787. Personal inquiries may be made at their headquarters, which is at 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118.
Massachusetts Contractor’s License Board
Both plumbing (including gas fitting) and electrical trade licenses are handled by the state’s Division of Professional Licensure. However, their licenses are regulated by their own Boards., which are the Board of State Examiners of Electricians for electrical licenses and the Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters for plumbing licenses. Both of these boards hold office at 1000 Washington Street, Suite 710, Boston, MA 02118 but for specific questions, you can call (617) 727-9931 or fax (617) 727-9932 for electrical licenses and call (617) 727-9952 or fax (617) 727-6095 for plumbing licenses concerns.
Asbestos removal in Massachusetts requires the necessary licenses and for you to get yours, you need to get in touch with the Department of Labor Standards of the state. Contractors who deal with lead also require their own licenses, which are also issued by the same Department. The Department has six satellite offices all over the state but not all of these offices handle asbestos and deleading licensing. The ones that do are the following:
- Boston – Charles F. Hurley Building, 19 Staniford Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02114. You can reach them through phone at (617) 626-6960 or fax at (617) 626-6965
- New Bedford – 1213 Purchase Street, 2nd Floor New Bedford, MA 02740. Contact their office at (508) 984-7718 through phone or (508) 984-3562 for fax
- Haverhill – 4 Summer Street, Room 212, Haverhill, MA 01830. Call them at (978) 372-9797 or send a fax to (978) 372-9998
- Westborough – Hadley Building, 167 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581. You can call them at (508) 616-0461 or fax (508) 616-0467
- Springfield – 1 Federal Street, Building 101, 3rd Floor, Springfield, MA 01105. For inquiries, call them at (413) 781-2676 or fax (413) 732-637
Contractors are also allowed to bid on projects of the Department of Transportation but only for those considered as horizontal construction, such as digging of tunnels and building bridges, under the Highway Division and if you pass their prequalification. In order to be prequalified, you need to provide them a surety letter and complete the application form uploaded at https://www.mass.gov/files/2017-07/PrequalApplication081715_0.pdf, then send it to the Department through mail (addressed to ‘MassDOT’) at this address: 10 Park Plaza, Suite 6260, Boston, MA 02116. For questions, you can send an email to the prequalification committee at email@example.com.
For out-of-state contractors, you also need to get a letter issued by the Secretary of State of Massachusetts that certifies that you have a good standing. To get this letter, contact their Corporations Division at (617) 727-7030, toll-free number 1-800-392-6090, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also drop by their office at McCormack Building , One Ashburton Place, 17th floor, Boston, MA 02108.
Contractor Licenses Classifications
There are quite a number of contractor licenses in Massachusetts and the presence of the Construction Supervisor License is the one that really adds to the confusion of many contractors. This is because contractors get confused if they still need to apply for that particular license, aside from the trade license that they really want. To help you understand, this guide will explain the different contractor and trade licenses available in Massachusetts.
Just the word ‘supervisor’ alone will already give you a hint that this license covers a lot. This impression is true, as the Construction Supervisor License (CSL) permits a license holder to oversee people who work on various types of buildings and structures, in terms of construction, as well as reconstruction, maintenance and repair, modifications, and even demolition work. To be precise, this license is classified into restricted, unrestricted, and specialty licenses, with the specialty licenses involving various materials and trades and the unrestricted license the closest to a general contractor’s license. Make sure that you identify which among the following classifications below applies to you:
- Restricted License – may only supervise work on a maximum of two-family dwellings, including their accessory buildings or structures
- Unrestricted License – not only can the licensee oversee work on up to two-family residences but also those buildings that do not exceed 35,000 cubic feet regardless of use, agricultural buildings or structures, and walls that measure up to 10 feet when measured from the bottom of the footing to the very top of the wall
Specialty licenses cover the structures or buildings that are under the scope of an Unrestricted License, except for walls. The available Specialty Construction Supervisor Licenses are the following
- Specialty CSL Masonry – oversees masonry work only
- Specialty CSL Residential Windows, Doors, Siding – its scope covers the replacement or repair of windows and door framings measuring less than 4 inches wide that have been damaged, as well as sheathing involving 25% of the total area
- Specialty CSL Residential Roof Covering – includes work in terms of replacements of sheathing and sistering roof rafters, but only if the work needed on those is up to 25% of the total area only
- Specialty CSL Solid Fuel-Burning Appliance – covers work on appliance installation and, in certain cases, exhausts or inlets connected to the appliance that will be integrated to structural elements may also be covered if only it is a requirement when installing the appliance. This is because the license does not include work on those directly connected to structures, such as sheathings
- Specialty CSL Insulation – includes work on sidings and sheathings, including replacing and doing maintenance work on them
- Specialty CSL Demolition – limited to structural removal and demolition work on structures
The Construction Supervision License may be considered as the most important in the state, as it is also required of contractors in some cases. This means that specific projects in the state will require you to either have both the CSL and a contractor license of the trade or be supervised by someone who has this license. So even if you have the contractor license but you do not have the CSL or work with someone who has it, you may not be permitted to do the work.
Home Improvement Contractor License
Unlike a Construction Supervisor who requires a license, a Home Improvement Contractor only needs to be registered in Massachusetts. This is because Home Improvement Contractors are limited to working on what can be considered general repairs on residential property, such as house painting, wallpaper installations, and deck and patio repairs.
To be precise, a Home Improvement Contractor is limited to doing work on already existing residences or familial dwellings of up to four units only and are occupied by the owners of the property themselves. You are only required to be registered as a Home Improvement Contractor if the total cost of the project is above $1000.
Do note that if you already have a Construction Supervisor License, this does not mean that you no longer need to register as a Home Improvement Contractor if you will be working on residential property covered by their scope of work. An exception applies if you possess an Unrestricted CSL, but this is a case-by-case basis. There are cases where the Unrestricted CSL is sufficient for you to work on a project but there are also those that require you to have both a CSL and be a registered Home Improvement Contractor.
Asbestos Abatement License
Anyone in Massachusetts who will work with materials containing asbestos, such as asbestos siding, or asbestos itself, is required to be licensed. This is due to the nature of asbestos, which is harmful to one’s health and even costs thousands of lives in a year due to improper handling.
Asbestos work that needs you to be licensed not only includes its removal but also placing it in containers for transport. The licenses available in relation to asbestos work are:
- Asbestos Analytical Service
- Asbestos Contractor
- Asbestos Inspector
- Asbestos Management Planner
- Asbestos Project Designer
- Asbestos Project Monitor
- Asbestos Supervisor
- Asbestos Training Provider
- Asbestos Worker
Lead-safe Renovation and Deleading
Just like asbestos, doing work that involves lead also requires you to be licensed first. A major difference between them is that deleading contractors must be constantly supervised, specifically by a Deleading Supervisor. This is because lead is notorious for being a harmful substance, especially when someone is exposed to it. As such, Massachusetts has strict regulations for it.
The following licenses are issued by Massachusetts in relation to deleading activities:
- Deleading Supervisor
- Deleading Contractor
- Deleading Worker
- Lead Training Provider
- Lead-Safe Renovation Contractor
Are you going to work on electrical systems, or just anything involving the electrical trade? Then you should know that Massachusetts requires licenses for it and these are issued at the state-level.
There are different classifications for this license, which will depend on your experience involving the trade. In particular, there are four classifications that you can apply for in the state. These are:
- Master Electrician (Certificate A) – is the equivalent of an electrical contractor license. This means that the license holder is only authorize to contract work or have a business involving electrical contracting but he or she is not allowed to personally do the work. However, this rule does not apply if the Master Electrician is also a Journeyman license holder. This license may be issued to individuals and businesses alike.
- Journeyman Electrician (Certificate B) – referred to as the basic electrician license and it allows the licensee to do work on various electrical systems, including power-limited ones. A journeyman electrician can be supervised by a Master Electrician but he or she is not allowed to hire other electricians as his or her employees
- Systems Contractor (Certificate C) – similar to a Master Electrician, a Systems Contractor can be involved in the installation, repair, and maintenance of systems using limited power, particularly fire and security alarms and other related systems, in a supervisory role only. He or she is not allowed to do the actual work unless he or she has also been issued a Systems Technician license. The license may also be issued to both individuals and businesses
- Systems Technician (Certificate D) – has the same scope as that of a Journeyman Electrician, wherein they do installations and repairs and may be employed by a Systems Contractor but are not permitted to do the hiring, but the license holder is limited to working on power-limited fire and security systems only.
Massachusetts also recognizes apprentice electricians or helpers but they are not required to get licensed before they do any training or participate in apprenticeship programs. To serve as an apprentice, he or she must be supervised by either a journeyman electrician or systems technician. Note that each journeyman electrician and systems technician must only train one apprentice at a time.
Plumbing and Gas Fitting Trade
Even those who will do plumbing and gas fitting work anywhere in the state of Massachusetts are required to get their licenses before they can bid and work on projects. It’s easy to confuse these licenses due to the nature of work involved. So, make sure that you have the appropriate license for the job you’re going to work on, since these licenses are not interchangeable. But how are plumbing and gasfitting work different from each other?
Those who obtain their plumbing trade licenses may work on the plumbing and piping systems of sanitary and storm drainages, private and public water supply systems, ventilation systems, and special waste in terms of the installation, maintenance, and modification of their fixtures, piping, installed appliances, and related accessories. Three plumbing license classifications are available:
- Apprentice Plumber – this license is a requirement for the other plumbing licenses, as anyone who wants to work in the plumbing trade in the state is required to start as an apprentice before being issued the other types of plumbing licenses. Apprentices must always do supervised work and have a licensed journeyman or master plumber as his or her mentor but he or she can only be employed by a master plumber
- Journeyman Plumber – may do plumbing-related installation, maintenance, and modifications without supervision. However, a journeyman plumber must have worked as an apprentice for at least three years
- Master Plumber – must have completed at least a year working as a journeyman plumber. A master plumber may not only employ workers for a contracted work but he or she may also personally do the plumbing work
Gasfitter licenses issued in Massachusetts are similar to plumbing license classifications. The only difference is in terms of the scope of work involved. Gasfitters may only do piping work of gas and ventilation systems, including the relevant equipment. Gas fitting licenses, like plumbing licenses, also have three classifications available:
- Apprentice Gas Fitter – may only work if supervised by a licensed master or journeyman gas fitter. Working as an apprentice is also a requirement before you can get the journeyman and master gas fitter licenses
- Journeyman Gas Fitter – can do the actual gas fitting work without supervision after working as an apprentice for at least two years, but this does not permit him or her to hire other gas fitters
- Master Gas Fitter – can both employ journeyman and apprentice gas fitters to do the work or he or she may do the actual work. To be issued this license, he or she must have also worked as a journeyman gas fitter for at least a year as well
How to Get Your Contractor’s License in MA and the Advantages of Doing So
Now that you have an idea of the different kinds of licenses available in Massachusetts, you should have an idea of which one you should apply for by now. Thankfully, applying for the licenses is a straightforward affair – be 18 years old or older, submit the requirements, take and pass the exams, and claim your license. Keep in mind that though these licenses are issued at the state level, some cities and counties in the state may have additional requirements, aside from the license, that you must complete before you can work anywhere in their vicinity.
This section will guide you on how you can apply for the respective state licenses.
Construction Supervisor License (CSL)
One of the first steps to working in this state is to get your Construction Supervisor’s License, which may or may not be a prerequisite to working on specific contracts together with a trade license. So how do you do this?
Regardless of the CSL classification you are applying for you, you will have to meet the following minimum experience requirement: a minimum of three years’ experience in the design and construction of buildings. Experience will only count if the work is done full-time, meaning 40 hours a week, within ten years, even if the work was not done in succession. However, you may not need to meet all of it, or even be exempted from this requirement, if you fulfill the following:
- Your active military experience in construction-related work may be recognized and credited by the Board as full-time work experience,
- Two years’ worth of experience is credited if you graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a related field of science, architecture, technology, or engineering from a university or college that has a Board accreditation,
- A year of experience will be recognized if you also obtained a bachelor’s degree from university or college that has been accredited by the Board in a course not related to the fields previously mentioned, or
- Finishing a vocational program or three to four years of vocational high school may be credited as a year of experience if the course is related to construction, particularly of buildings.
Upon meeting the experience requirements, you need to download this exam registration packet https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/01/30/CSLreal%20form.pdf and completely fill it out. Include proof of your experience that applies to you (either a Letter of Attestation that has been notarized or your tax forms). After mailing in your application, you must set the schedule of your exam with Prometric within ten days only.
The examination fee for all classifications of the CSL costs $100 per type and the license fee costs $150 per application. This means that you may apply for multiple classifications at the same time and only pay the $150 license fee. If not, you will have to pay $150 for each succeeding license.
Initial validity of the CSL is three years. After that period, you can renew your license and each renewal makes your license valid for two years before you will have to renew once more. Do note that Unrestricted and Restricted CSL are issued separately, instead of together like those of specialty CSL.
Home Improvement Contractor Registration
When compared to the other state-issued licenses of Massachusetts, getting registered as a Home Improvement Contractor is a walk in the park. It may even be considered as the easiest one to acquire, since there’s no need to take any examination.
Registering as a home improvement contractor applies not only to individuals but also to partnerships, proprietorships, and corporations. But if you are registering as a corporation, you will need to submit an additional requirement, which is your proof of registration with the Secretary of State. If you are also registering under a fictitious name, referred to as a Doing Business As (DBA) name, you will need to include a copy of your latest business certificate that was filed in the same location as that of your business.
Are you now ready to register as a Home Improvement Contractor? You will need to do that online at https://hic.oca.state.ma.us/HIC/Account/Register. Aside from that, you will need to pay the registration fee of $150, as well as make a monetary contribution to the state’s Guaranty Fund, which is a requirement and will depend on the total number of employees in your company. The required contribution is $100 if you have a maximum of 3 employees, $200 if employees range from 4 to 10, $300 if there are 11 to 30 employees, and $500 if the total number of employees exceeds 30. Remember to renew your Home Improvement Contractor Registration every two years.
Asbestos Abatement Licenses
Due to the nature and different scopes of work, asbestos abatement licenses have different requirements for each license classification. You can find the list of license classifications and their corresponding forms:
- Asbestos Analytical Service – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/08/06/asbestos%20analytical%20service%20application-fs_0.pdf. You also need to submit documentary requirements indicated in the application packet and pay the annual fee of $750.
- Asbestos Contractor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/08/06/asbestos%20contractor%20application-fs_0.pdf. The application packet includes a checklist of all the documentary requirements that you must submit. A payment of $2,050 is required
- Asbestos Inspector – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/12/18/la-app-ai-fs.pdf. You must have either experienced working in the field under the tutelage of either a Massachusetts-certified Asbestos Management Planner or Inspector for two months or more or have worked in a trade similar to that of an Asbestos Inspector for not less than six months. You need to pay $625
- Asbestos Management Planner – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/12/18/asbestos%20mgmt%20planner%20app-fs.pdf. You must have graduated from high school and attained education beyond that, as well as experienced working in asbestos management and abatement for six months at minimum
- Asbestos Project Designer – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/20/la-app-ad-fs%20%282%29.pdf. A bachelor’s degree is required for this license, particularly in occupational health, biological, physical, or environmental sciences, or industrial hygiene, as well as experience in asbestos abatement and other related tasks for a year or more. An engineer or architect registered with the state may also apply if he or she has also worked in the field of asbestos abatement for a year or more. This license also costs $625
- Asbestos Project Monitor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/06/12/la-app-ap-fs.pdf. To be issued this license, you need to have an educational attainment beyond high school and employed in the field of asbestos abatement for at least six months and or trained under an Asbestos Project Monitor duly certified by the state for two months or more in his or her direct guidance
- Asbestos Supervisor – https://www.mass.gov/files/2017-07/la-app-as.pdf. You only need to supply the required documents and pay the $225 fee
- Asbestos Training Provider – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/08/06/at-application%2008-18.pdf. Make sure to correctly indicate the training course/s you plan to offer and pay the fee of $1,750
- Asbestos Worker – https://www.mass.gov/files/2017-07/asbestos-worker-application-bilingual-eng-spa.pdf. Don’t forget to include the asbestos trainings you joined in by attaching the original certificates to your application, as well as the payment of $75
Note that the fees for all of them are not refundable and will serve as the annual fee of the license or certificate if issued. Asbestos licenses and certificates expire a year after issuance and should be renewed every year.
If you are applying for any of the asbestos abatement certificates or licenses for the first time in the state, it is required that you pass your application personally to one of the offices of the Department that processes licenses and licensing applications. Take note of the operating hours of their offices and you can check that through https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-an-asbestos-removal-license.
Deleading and Lead-Reduction Licenses
Acquiring any deleading license is quite similar to how you would apply for an asbestos abatement license. You, or your employees for contractors, are required to have the necessary experience or training before you can submit your application. The major difference is that deleading licenses require strict health compliance.
Those who will directly work on it, namely the workers and supervisors, are required to submit themselves to medical evaluations. Contractors, on the other hand, must show evidence that they have a medical monitoring plan, including providing safety equipment and routine health checks, in place for their workers.
Also, deleading licenses do not require an applicant to meet certain educational requirements, since what matters is the amount and kind of trainings they went through that the board may find sufficient for them to be granted licenses.
For you to apply for any of the deleading licenses, make sure to use the correct application forms to avoid delays and even unnecessary expenses. First-time license applicants must also submit their applications personally to any of the Department’s offices that handle licensing in the state. To find the nearest satellite office and when you can submit your application, you can refer to this website: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-a-lead-safe-renovation-or-deleading-license.
You may download the forms at the links found below:
- Deleading Supervisor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/05/04/ds-accessible-fs_5.pdf. You must include original copies of the certificates you received from trainings and pay the $150 fee. Make sure to undergo a medical examination before submitting your application
- Deleading Contractor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/08/13/deleading%20contractor%20application-8-13-18-fs_1.pdf. Requirements will depend on whether or not you have employees. The fee you need to pay is $575
- Deleading Worker – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/05/04/dw-accessible-fs.pdf. Applicants must also undergo a medical examination before they can submit their application. Aside from attaching original training certificates, a $50 fee is also required
- Lead Training Provider – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/03/27/DT%203-27-18-fs_4.pdf. You may conduct trainings in other languages, except when training deleading supervisors. Fee costs $1,775
- Lead-Safe Renovation Contractor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/08/08/lsrc-8-2018-f.pdf. You can apply for this with or without workers under your employ. The fee costs $375
The fees required are non-refundable and will be considered as your license’s annual fee if your application has been accepted. Deleading licenses also expire annually, so remember to renew it every year before it expires.
Electrical Trade Licenses
Dealing with electrical systems is complicated work. This is why Massachusetts has made sure that only qualified people may engage in this particular trade in the state. So, do you qualify for an electrical trade license? Refer to this guide for you to find out.
To be qualified for a Master Electrician (Certificate A) license, which can be issued to either an individual or corporation, the requirements are:
- A minimum experience of a year working as a journeyman electrician in the state
- Completed classroom instructions that must amount to 150 hours or more
- For businesses, identify who will represent your company in taking the examinations
- Passing both the Business and Law and the Master Electrician examinations
- Payment of $135 for the application and $402 for the required examinations
For Journeyman Electrician (Certificate B) licenses, you need to meet the following requirements:
- Must have worked as an apprentice or learner in the state for a minimum of 8000 hours within the last 4 years before you filed your application
- Undergone classroom instruction for a minimum of 600 hours
- Possess a high school diploma or have attained a higher level of education
- Passing both parts of the Journeyman Electrician examination
- Payment of the $90 application fee and $312 examination fee
The requirements for a Systems Contractor (Certificate C) license are:
- Worked for at least a year as a Systems Technician in the state
- Finished classroom instruction that amounts to 75 hours or more
- Passing both the Systems Contractor and the Business and Law examinations
- Payment of the application and examination fees, which are $135 and $412 respectively
To be eligible for a Systems Technician (Certificate D) license, you must accomplish the following:
- A minimum of 4000 hours of supervised work on systems within the last two years prior to the submission of your application
- Have graduated from high school and can present your high school diploma
- Undergone classroom education for a minimum of 300 hours
- Passing the two parts of the Systems Technician examinations
- Payment of the application fee worth $90 and the examination fee worth $312
You can also access the full list of requirements of the electrical trade licenses at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2017/09/29/237cmr13_5.pdf.
The Board no longer accepts hard copies of applications, so you need to apply for your electrical trade license, no matter the classification, online at the ePlace portal: https://elicensing.state.ma.us/CitizenAccess/. Licenses expire every July 31 on the third year after your license was issued and may be renewed.
Plumbing and Gas Fitting Trade Licenses
Since both the Plumbing and Gas Fitting Licenses are regulated by one board, the application process for each is nearly identical. This may be the case but it doesn’t mean that acquiring one is easy.
Exceptions to this are the apprentice licenses for both plumbing and gas fitting trade. This is because you will only have to fill out the application forms and pay the necessary fees. In particular,
- Apprentice Plumber – pay the license fee of $14 and file your application online or by using this form: https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/06/Application%20for%20Apprentice%20Plumber.pdf
- Apprentice Gas Fitter – pay $9 for the license and apply online or use the form uploaded at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/08/29/Apprentice%20Gas%20Fitter%20License%20Application.pdf
The Journeyman Plumber license requires the following:
- Obtained a G.E.D. or high school diploma
- Completed an apprentice plumber education program for a minimum of 300 hours if your apprentice license was issued before September 1, 2008 or 550 hours or more if your license was issued after that date
- Did actual apprentice plumbing work for 3 years or 5100 hours or more if your license was issued before September 1, 2008 but if later than that, the required hours of work is 8500 hours or 5 years
- Passing the 2-part Journeyman Plumber examination
- Application fee of $31 and examination fee of $80. You can download the application form at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/05/elic-jman-plumber-application.pdf. You must also pay the license fee of $52 if you pass the examination to be granted the license
For the Journeyman Gas Fitter license, requirements are:
- Acquired a high school diploma or G.E.D. at minimum
- If your apprentice license was issued before September 1, 2008, you must have completed an apprentice gas fitter education program of 300 hours or more. Beyond that date, the minimum is 330 hours
- Total apprentice gas fitter experience of 3400 hours or 2 years if you acquired your apprentice license before September 1, 2008. If not, you must have worked as an apprentice gas fitter for a minimum of 5100 hours or 3 years
- Passing the 2-part Journeyman Gas Fitter examination
- Payment of the $31 application fee, $80 examination fee, and $52 license fee if you pass the exams. A copy of the application form can be found at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/06/Journeyman%20Gas%20Fitter%20Application.pdf
To be granted a Master Plumber license, you need to:
- Have experienced working as a Journeyman Plumber in the state for a year or more
- Finished a Journeyman Plumber lesson under Tier 5 that makes up 110 hours
- Payment of the $31 application fee, $80 examination fee, and $78 license fee. The application form may also be accessed at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/06/Master%20Plumber%20Examination%20Application.pdf
- Passing the examination for Master Plumbers, which consist of two parts
Similarly, the Master Gas Fitter license can be issued if you meet the following:
- Worked as a Journeyman Gas Fitter for one year at minimum in the state
- Completed a Tier 3 course for Journeyman Gas Fitters
- Pay the application fee of $31, examination fee of $80, and license fee of $78. You can download and print the application form at https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/07/06/Master%20Gas%20Fitter%20Examination%20Application.pdf
- Passing the two-part Master Gas Fitter exam
Like the electrical trade licenses, plumbing and gas fitting licenses also use the ePlace portal for online applications, which is found at https://www.elicensing.state.ma.us/CitizenAccess/. Although the official website of Massachusetts has the forms in PDF format, online application is still their preferred method.
Licenses for plumbers and gas fitters are required to be renewed every May 1 of an even year, so don’t forget that date when you finally acquire your license
Why Should You Get Licensed?
After going through the various application processes for the licenses issued by the state, you might feel hesitant to actually apply for one. After all, you need to have years of experience, spend hours in classrooms, fill out numerous forms, and pay for so many fees. Tedious, isn’t it?
However, you should definitely get a trade license or certification that applies to you. First of all, and probably the most important reason, not doing so is against the law. Massachusetts has several laws and codes regarding the regulation of the trade and contractor licenses, including contracting or doing trade work without a license. Strict is an understatement when it comes to Massachusetts enforcing these laws, as there are documented cases where an unlicensed contractor has been found guilty and had to pay tens of thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands, in penalties and fines to both the state and to the client. Not only will you get a stain on your record but your violation will also be made available online for all the world to see.
Another reason is due to the state’s Arbitration Program. Contractors also have horror stories of their own and most of them involve non-payment of clients. Fortunately, the state guards against these incidents with the said program. This is because the Arbitration Program allows the state to intervene in such cases and will make a client pay you what is due to you as a contractor if they have been found guilty. Just make sure that there is an arbitration clause on your contract.
Acquiring a state-issued license is also a surefire way to attract clients and even charge higher rates. By merely displaying your license, which is also a requirement of the state, you’re already marketing yourself as a skilled contractor. Clients know that anyone who was issued a license really knows his or her stuff and this is one step closer to closing a contract. Also, this justifies you having a higher asking price compared to unlicensed contractors, since you will also offer them peace of mind that they have hired someone reliable to do the job.
Contractors are required to obtain the necessary permits in Massachusetts and not having a license means you will not be issued permits. In turn, this will not allow you to proceed with the contracted work.
So to save you and your client from all the hassle, headache, and resources, make sure that you get the required licenses before contracting any work in the state.
Why Should You Hire Licensed Contractors?
Anyone who has had construction work done in their property knows how costly it can get. Even those who try to DIY their way to a project end up losing more money because they really have no idea what they are doing.
Enter contractors. Duly-licensed contractors can guide you in drawing up a contract and setting up a budget for the work. They usually have an idea of how much a project would cost so it would be much easier for you both to agree on it. Unlicensed contractors, on the other hand, may entice you with a smaller budget but a common issue experienced with them is once they bag a contract, they’ll ask for more by telling you that the money isn’t enough to pay for all the materials and labor. You’ll now be torn between paying the additional money requested just to possibly finish the job or not pay and stop the work and leave it unfinished.
Speaking of which, one of the biggest risks is that there is a huge possibility of unlicensed contractors not finishing the project. There are so many horror stories of these people suddenly disappearing in the middle of a project not just in the state but also in the entire country.
Another complaint is that unlicensed contractors usually do a poor job of the work they were contracted to do. Sure, they may have completed the work you hired them to do but are you sure that their work would last for years? So many homeowners have hired these contractors, only to regret it later when their roofs start collapsing or their bathroom floors get flooded due to poor plumbing in just a few months or within a year. Instead of saving money, they end up shelling out more due to the costly repairs that have to be done.
It’s also a common practice for unlicensed contractors to not pay the correct wages, nor provide insurance for their workers. So, when you get one for your project, you are complicit in committing the unfair labor practices of that contractor. Not only that, you are also directly responsible for the welfare of the employees of the contractor. This means that you’ll be the one to foot the hospital bills in case of workplace accidents. And you know how expensive that can get.
Massachusetts ensures that the rights of homeowners are protected and one way of doing so is that they get compensation once they file a case or report a contractor who failed to meet the standards of the work agreed upon. Of course, this only applies to homeowners and licensed contractors with a contract. This means that you may not be entitled to compensation for unsatisfactory work done by an unlicensed contractor.
There are so many other reasons why you should go for licensed contractors but the ones mentioned should already convince you to hire one. Just remember that you are not the only one who might suffer the consequences should you get an unlicensed contractor for your project.
Massachusetts Contractor License Search and Lookup
It is quite easy for anyone to check the status of a contractor or trade license that was issued in Massachusetts. This is because the government keeps an up-to-date list of all valid license holders. You can find below the relevant links for the state-issued licenses to lookup contractor licenses in Massachusetts:
- Construction Supervisor License (CSL) Lookup – http://elicense.chs.state.ma.us/Verification/Search.aspx. Note that you need to provide details, such as the name and license number of a contractor
- Home Improvement Contractor – https://services.oca.state.ma.us/hic/licenseelist.aspx The website also requires the license information of a contractor
- Asbestos Contractor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/10/03/web_list_AC.pdf. You will have to manually search the database
- Deleading Contractor – https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/10/03/web_list_DC.pdf. Also requires you to do a manual search
- Electrical, Plumbing, and Gas Fitting Contractors – they all use the ePlace portal for the license lookup, which you can access at https://elicensing.state.ma.us/CitizenAccess/_SearchaLicense.htm. Also required are the license information, including the license numbers
Again, there’s no general contractor license issued in the state of Massachusetts and therefore no lookup database for it, although it’s likely you’re looking for the CSL or the Home Improvement Contractor one one instead.
Contractor Licenses in the Biggest Cities
It comes as no surprise that Massachusetts is among the country’s richest states. This is largely in part due to the fact that many of its cities can be considered as part of the elite. So, if you plan to work as a contractor in this state, chances are you’ll get to close high-budget contracts, especially if you work in its biggest cities like Worcester, Boston, Cambridge, Springfield, New Bedford, Brockton, Quincy, Lynn, and Lowell.
Fortunately, the state-issued licenses are recognized in the different cities and towns of the state. But this does not mean that it automatically allows you to work anywhere in Massachusetts. It is important that you check if the municipality where you will do your contracting business has other requirements before you can do so.
City of Boston and Its Builder License
While the city of Boston recognizes the state-issued licenses, it also issues its own Builders License. This license is required for those who will work on certain types of projects anywhere in the city. To get this license, you need to submit your notarized application, which includes three reference letters that may come from architects, engineers, and builders, and the affidavit confirming that you are a Construction Supervisor License holder. You may get the relevant forms and other information at https://www.boston.gov/departments/inspectional-services/boston-builders-licenses.
City of Cambridge
The City of Boston requires those who will be working on asbestos and electrical and plumbing systems to be licensed at the state level and also register with the city through their On-Line Permit Program. Registration for the permits are done online at https://cambridgema.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1118/record-types/6604 for asbestos abatement licensees, https://cambridgema.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1118/record-types/6552 for electrical trade licensees, and https://cambridgema.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1118/record-types/6686 for plumbing trade licensees.
Contractor License Reciprocity
Do you find the process of applying for trade and contractor licenses too much of a hassle? Maybe you’ve never heard of contractor license reciprocity agreements. This agreement allows a licensee to get the same type of or an equivalent license in one state as the one issued in another, as long as those states have reciprocal agreements. So, if state A has a reciprocal agreement with state B, you may get a license from one of those states as long as it is the same type issued in the other state.
So how does this affect you? In a nutshell, this makes the application process easier for you. You no longer have to undergo the entire application process, since you don’t have to submit all of the requirements for first time applicants. If there are 10 requirements, you might be required to submit only 4 of them due to the license reciprocity agreement. A bonus perk is that this agreement may not even require you to take another set of trade examination for that license.
So, does Massachusetts have this agreement with other states? The good news is, yes. The bad news, however, is that this does not apply to all state-issued licenses. Applicants may only use this license application method for some licenses.
Only the following licenses have reciprocity agreements with the states listed:
- Journeyman Electrician – Vermont, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and New Hampshire
- Master Electrician – New Hampshire
- Systems Contractor – no specific state because reciprocity may be considered on a case-to-case basis
- Systems Technician – also on a case-to-case basis
- Deleading Supervisor – Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, and New Hampshire
- Deleading Worker – Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut
Before using the reciprocity method to acquire your license, remember to inquire with the respective issuing boards, both Massachusetts and the reciprocal state, about the requirements for you to apply using this method.
Remember to apply for your license via the license reciprocity method whenever possible. This will not only let you save time and resources but this will also make you acquire the license much faster.