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Construction Supervisor Licensing in Massachusetts

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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulates their construction industry by requiring anyone performing work on jobs worth $500 or more to hold a license or registration.  In Massachusetts, contractors have the option of applying for two different license types:

  1. Home Improvement Contractor Registration (HIC) – issued by the Office of Consumer Affairs.  Allows contractors to perform work on existing homes, buildings and structures.
  2. Construction Supervisors License (CSL) – issued by the Board of Building Regulation and Standards.  Allows contractors to supervise or participate in the building and construction of a homes, buildings or structures.
*There are additional license categories that allow CSLs to specialize in things like masonry, roofing, demolition and insulation.  

In addition to state laws, it is also important for contractors to look into their local county and municipality’s laws.  Some counties in Massachusetts have their own regulations concerning construction work, such as obtaining a building permit.

* Changes to Massachusetts law concerning licensing fees means that as of 2009, all CSLs are now required to pay the HIC registration fee.  For this reason, it is worth it to many contractors to apply for both their license and registration.  

Home Improvement Contractor Registration

The fastest way to become a contractor in Massachusetts is to apply for Home Improvement Contractor Registration through the Office of Consumer Affairs.

HICs are limited in the type of work that they are allowed to perform.  A registered HIC is only allowed to perform work on pre-existing structures.  For larger jobs that involve the construction of a structure from the ground up, a Construction Supervisors License is needed.  The HIC can also choose to hire a CSL to oversee the work.

HICs are not required to take a qualifying exam to obtain their registration.  They are also not required to hold general liability insurance.  Instead, HICs deposit money into a guaranty fund at the Office of Consumer Affairs.  This fund protects the consumer in the event of a dispute over the contractor’s work.  The amount deposited into the guaranty fee depends on the number of employees the contractor holds.

Steps to Obtain HIC Registration:

  1. Applicants must register their business with the Secretary of State or the local County Clerk’s Office.  Documented proof of business registration is needed when the applicant submits their HIC application.
  2. Applicants must fill out an HIC registration application.  Directions for filling out the application are found on the last page of the application packet.  To print a copy of the application, please visit:
    http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/hic/hic-registration-application.pdf
  3. Submit the HIC application, along with all the required documents and the $150 registration fee to the Office of Consumer Affairs.  Applicants are also required to submit the Guaranty Fund fee along with their application, based on the number of employees they plan to hold.
Number of Employees Guaranty Fee
0-3 employees $100
4-10 employees $200
11-30 employees $300
30 employees or more $500

Mail the completed application and fees to:

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
10 Park Plaza, Suite 5170
Boston, MA 02116

*The Office of Consumer Affairs accepts check or money order made out to “Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

It takes approximately 4 weeks for the Office of Consumer Affairs to process the application.  If the candidate is deemed eligible they will receive their HIC registration in the mail.  HICs are required to put their registration number on all their contracts, business cards and anything that advertises their business.

HIC Registration is good for 2 years.  There is a $100 renewal fee for contractors to renew their registration.

For more information on HIC registration, please visit:

http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/consumer-rights-and-resources/home-improvement-contract/home-improvement-contractor-frequently-asked.html

Construction Supervisor Licensing

To participate and supervise in the construction of buildings and structures in Massachusetts, contractors are required to hold a Construction Supervisors License.  There are two different types of CSLs:

  1. Restricted CSL- allows contractors to supervise, build and work on one and two family homes and accessory buildings
  2. Unrestricted CSL- allows contractors to supervise, build and work on any structure up to 35,000 feet of enclosed space.
*Unrestricted CSLs are not permitted to obtain work on structures over 35,000 cubic feet.  Structures of this size require an architect or engineer.

Contractors applying for their CSL must take and pass a qualifying exam, demonstrating their knowledge of building code in the Commonwealth.  All contractors are also required to pay the HIC registration fee, making it worth for many contractors getting their CSL, to also go through the process of getting their HIC.

Steps To Obtain a Massachusetts Construction Supervisor License

  1. Applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  2. Applicant must have at least 3 consecutive years of work experience in building construction or design.  A 3 or 4-year high school vocational program or a bachelor’s degree in a related field counts toward work experience.
  3. Applicants must register for the qualifying examination by filling out the Exam Registration Form.
  4. Applicants must pass the exam with a score of at least 70%
  5. Applicants must submit their score report form, along with the appropriate fees to the Department of Public Safety.

Work Experience and Education

In order to be eligible to take the CSL qualifying exam, candidates must meet the minimum requirements for work experience.  In some instances, education counts toward the work experience requirement.

Applicants must have 3 years of full-time work experience in the field of building construction or design to be eligible for the examination.  Part-time employment is not accepted.  Applicants are required to submit documented proof for all 3 years of their work experience.  Acceptable forms of documentation include a notarized letter of attestation or W2.

In some cases, education counts toward the work experience requirement:

  • 3-4 years in a high school vocational program counts toward 1 year of the work experience requirement.
  • A bachelor’s degree, in any subject, from an accredited college or university counts toward 1 year of the work experience requirement
  • A bachelor’s degree in the subject of architecture, science, engineering, technology or a related field counts toward 2 years of the work experience requirement when obtained from an accredited institution.
*To count to toward the work experience requirement, employment and education must be within the past 10 years.

Registering for the CSL Exam

Once the applicant is able to prove that they meet the work experience requirement, they are able to register for the Construction Supervisor Licensing Exam.  The exam is administered by Prometric Inc.  There is a $100 fee to take the exam.

All applicants should read through the Candidate Information Bulletin before filling out the exam registration application.  For a copy of the Bulletin, please visit:

https://www.prometric.com/en-us/clients/Massachusetts/Documents/MACS_CIB_20140317.pdf

The Exam Registration Form is located at the back of the Candidate Information Bulletin.  Be sure to read and follow all instructions for filling out this form.

Submit the completed Exam Registration Form, along with all required documentation and the examination fee to:

Prometric
Attn: MA Construction Supervisors Program
7941 Corporate Drive
Nottingham, MD 21236

A completed exam registration application includes:

  • Exam Registration Form- filled out in its entirety
  • Proof of Work Experience- including letters of attestation or W2s
  • Notarized Signature- indicating that all the information provided on the application is accurate and truthful
  • Examination Fee- $100

The examination fee is non-refundable.  Prometric accepts payments in the form of:

  • Visa/Mastercard
  • Money Order
  • Company Check
  • Cashier’s Check
*Personal checks and cash are not accepted.  

Scheduling the CSL Exam

Within 10 days of mailing the Exam Registration Form, the applicant is responsible for contacting Prometric to schedule their exam.  To schedule a test date:

  • Call Prometric- 800-813-6671 Mon-Fri from 8AM to 9PM (EST)
OR

Applicants have 90 days, from the time Prometric processes their application, to take the exam.  If the exam is not scheduled within 90 days, the registration application is thrown out and the applicant must submit the form again, in addition to paying the exam registration fee.

The CSL Exam

The CSL exam is an open-book test, composed of 50 multiple-choice questions.

The Candidate Information Bulletin offers further information about what references are allowed in the testing center on the day of the exam, how to prepare and the topics covered on the examination.  For a copy of the Bulletin, please visit:

https://www.prometric.com/en-us/clients/Massachusetts/Documents/MACS_CIB_20140317.pdf

On the day of the exam, be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before the test.  Bring 2 forms of identification, including:

  1. A government issued, photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport
  2. Second form of identification with the examinees photo and signature

Examinees must pass the examination with a minimum score of 70%.  They will receive their score report before leaving the testing center on the day of the test.

*Applicants are allowed to take the examination 2 times within a 90 day period.  If they fail the exam twice during this time, they must re-apply for the exam and pay the examination fee each time they re-take the test.

Receiving a Construction Supervisors License

When an applicant passes the CSL exam, they will receive further instructions for applying for their license on the back of their exam score report.  This includes completing and mailing the score report form and fees to the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Along with the score report, applicants must mail the following fees:

  • Licensing fee- $150
  • HIC Registration Fee- $150
  • Guaranty Fund Fee- amount varies depending on the number employees (see above table)

Regardless, if the candidate plans to also get their HIC registration or not, CSLs are required to pay the HIC registration fee and make a contribution to the Guaranty.  However, in many cases it is in the contractor’s interest to go through the steps to get their HIC registration as well.  Follow the steps above for HIC registration.

Within approximately 30 days, the applicant should receive their Construction Supervisor’s License in the mail.

*Applicants have 2 years from the time they pass the qualifying examination to submit their score report to DPS.  After 2 years they must re-apply and retake the examination.    

How Long is a Construction Supervisor License Valid?

Construction Supervisor Licenses are good for 2 years.  During the renewal period, CSLs are required to complete continuing education.

  • Unrestricted CSLs must complete 12 hours of continuing education.
  • Restricted CSLs must complete 10 hours of continuing education.

For further information about continuing education, go to:

http://www.mass.gov/eopss/consumer-prot-and-bus-lic/license-type/csl/construction-supervisor-license-continuing.html

To renew a CSL, licensees must fill out a renewal application and pay a renewal fee of $100.

For a copy of the CSL renewal application, please visit:

http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/dps/buildingcode/appl-bc/renewal-form-csl-1-2012.pdf

Table of Fees

Fee What is it For? When is it Due?
$150 Home Improvement Contractor Registration Fee Upon submitting the application for HIC registration
$100-$500 Guaranty Fund Upon submitting the application for HIC registration
$150 Construction Supervisor License Fee After candidate passes the exam.  Fee is due upon submitting the application for CSL
$100 Examination Fee for CSLs When registering to take the CSL exam
$100 CSL Renewal Fee Upon renewing CSL, during the renewal period
$100 HIC Renewal Fee Upon renewing a HIC registration, during the renewal period