In the state of Massachusetts a contractor must register with the state in most cases.
The exception for a painting contractor who only work only in the interior of homes or performs wall covering (wallpaper installation) DO NOT need to be registered with the state.
What Does the (HIC) certification mean to the consumer?
There is additional information regarding the Home Improvement Contractor License and Guaranty Fund at this link http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/consumer-rights-and-resources/home-improvement-contract/home-improvement-contractor-frequently-asked.html
Additionally if you would like to chek to see if your Home Improvement contractor is registered with the state please visit this website http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dps/