Given Consumer Business Services (CBS) decision to increase the number of units required to apply for a contractor’s license, we have made the decision to no longer run our weekend contractor’s course.

Tradies are now required to complete 6 units of study. Details of the new requirements can be found at


Units required before 1 October 2020 Units required after 2 October 2020
BSBSMB421 Manage small business BSBSMB421 Manage small business
CPCCBC4009B Apply legal requirements to building and construction projects CPCCBC4009B Apply legal requirements to building and construction projects
CPCCBC4007A Plan building or construction work
CPCCBC4004A Identify and produce estimated costs for building and construction projects
CPCCBC4003A Select and prepare a construction contract
CPCCBC4024A Resolve Business Disputes


918534-conman-300x168Did you know that customers can refuse to pay tradies who are unlicensed? Tradies are also at risk of fines up to $20,000 for working without a licence. I’ve gone through the online process of applying for a tradies contractors license, and it isn’t as difficult as it seems!

The process to apply for a licence can seem a little overwhelming, but there is help available. This week I called up the government department that looks after licensing to discuss some particular issues we weren’t sure about. A big thanks to Margret for answering my many questions!

Firstly, the name of the government department that manages trades licensing is now called “Consumer & Business Services” ( in the past it was usually referred to as OCBA. Along with a new name, there is a new website with lots of helpful information and even an online application process.

Essentially there are 2 types of tradies who go for their licence. Those that have completed the traditional style apprenticeship, and those that have worked in the industry as labourers gradually gaining more skills in particular trades.

Apprentices usually get a more streamlined application, but not always! Labourers who have not completed an apprenticeship are more likely to be asked to attend a technical interview. Feedback we’ve had from applicants is that the interviewer will generally ask them questions about a typical days work, seeking clarification on OHS/ WHS issues, materials used and Australia Standards. The technical interview can go in a different direction if the person interviewing you thinks there is a potential issue. Examples include not being aware of state based requirements for some specific building activities. So its worth reviewing Australian Standards and South Australian Ministerial Specifications.

The application costs around $390, this is just for the contractors licence in a specified trade. You will be required to select which trade or trades you want on your licence. In SA it is also a requirement to complete 2 business units. I recently completed these myself, and found it really informative. One of the units is in business law. This is how I found out that customer can refuse unlicensed tradies payment! The second unit is in business finance. It takes you through how to read and understand your businesses finances, even if you have an accountant handle it for you.

A police check is required, along with a certificate of eligibility for Building Indemnity Insurance. If you plan on working on your own, you’ll also need to apply for a supervisors licence, that costs around another $110. If you are working with someone else who already has a supervisors licence, you can nominate them on your application.

It seems like a lot of money in fees, but there is growing awareness in the community about licencing, and many customers will go online to check. A little bit of cost upfront, could see you avoid a fine, but more importantly help you grow your business.

Sam Cottell is a trade licensing consultant who can help guide you through the process of applying for your license. For more information on the services he offers visit

As always, if you’re stuck, give us a call and arrange a time to catch up! More information is available at