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Most cities, counties and/or states require building contractors to be licensed. Earning a contractor's license generally requires meeting experience requirements and passing one or more exams. Many licensing agencies grant credit toward the experience requirements based on education. California, for example, grants civil engineering graduates credit for three years of the four-year experience requirement to take a state building contractor licensing exam. This means civil engineers need a minimum of one year of construction experience, and must take and pass all required exams to get a contractor's license.
Gain the necessary construction industry experience required for licensing as a contractor in your area. In most cases, a civil engineering degree will exempt you from a significant portion of the experience requirements, as it is assumed you have strong knowledge of construction theory and had some practical experience in construction during your education.
Apply for a Class A or equivalent building contractor license when you meet the experience requirement. A Class A license is a general engineering license, meaning that the contractor's principal business is related to projects requiring specialized engineering knowledge.
Take and pass the exam to earn your building contractor's license. Most states charge a fee to take the exam. Topics covered in licensing exams vary by state and type of license being applied for, but typically include sections on real estate and construction law, business and finance, and sections testing for technical knowledge in specific areas such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC and so forth.
Submit the license fee and any necessary bonds. Most licensing agencies require contractor's to maintain a performance bond as long as they license is active. Bond amounts vary relative to the type of license and the size of the contracts being undertaken by the contractor.
You will undertake a similar contractor licensing procedure at the city or county level in states that do not require state contractor licensing.