Getting a license requires quite a bit more than just paying a fee.
For my field it means at least 2 years of verified work experience (I had 4) – in many other fields 4 years or more are required. In Pinellas County a prospective contractor is thoroughly checked out before they are even allowed to take the licensing exam as follows:
- A full application giving all applicable background information.
- Personal references are given and checked.
- Notarized letters from other contractors certifying competency.
- A credit check is run.
- A background check is run.
- A public records search is done.
- An internet search is done for any adverse reports.
- All of the information is compiled and the applicant must be approved by the Licensing Board.
Once the above approval process is accepted examinations must be passed in the work discipline licensing is applied for as well as OSHA requirements and Florida laws relevant to the construction industry. In any field there are unlicensed “fly by nighters” that will do some work for you and then disappear. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to that had someone unlicensed do some work for them and now can’t find the person because they have moved on, out of business, phone disconnected, etc. You may pay a bit more for a licensed contractor but part of what you pay for is the commitment that the person will be there for years to come to support the work they have done and honor their warranty. Hiring a licensed contractor is no guarantee the person will be perfect. But it does mean you have hired a professional that has a serious commitment to their particular line of work and is not likely to do substandard work and then disappear.