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How to get a contractor’s license

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If you’re thinking about working as a contractor, you’ll likely need to get a contractor’s license. Fortunately, this 2022 guide on how to get a contractor’s license was written with you in mind.

In general, many states require contractors to be licensed at the state level, but some states do not. Please be sure to check with your local contractors’ board because most city, county and municipal authorities have their own regulations.

States and local authorities may impose fines, penalties and court actions if a contractor operates without a license, registration or certification.

Along with a contractor’s license, most states also require all businesses to have workers’ compensation and general liability insurance.

Have confidence in your new contracting business, confidence in yourself and confidence knowing you are working with someone who knows your needs. At Higginbotham, our business insurance specialists can help you with your contracting business needs, from surety bonds to workers’ compensation to risk management services. Talk to one of our specialists today.

Below you can find the contracting licensing requirements for each state. Please note that this is just a guide and not all-inclusive for each state.

Alabama

In Alabama, contractors need to be licensed to work on commercial and industrial projects costing $50,000 or more. It’s important to note that Alabama includes the cost of labor into the total project cost calculation.

For swimming pools, licensing requirement limits are set at $5,000. Subcontractors also need to be licensed by the Alabama State Licensing Board for General Contractors to work on projects under a licensed prime contractor with a minimum labor and materials cost of $50,000, or $5,000 for swimming pools.

Electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians and roofers require a license separate from a prime general contractor’s license.

Along with an application, contractors must submit proof of liability insurance, a financial statement, proof of experience and references to the board. Contractors must also pass the Alabama Business and Law exam and any specialty trade classification exams. Study guides and licensing exam preparation materials are available here.

Alabama does have reciprocity agreements with Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana. If you have been licensed consecutively for three years in one of those states, you can verify your license with Alabama here.

As of June 2021, the application fee for a prime contractor is $300, and the fee for a subcontractor is $150. License renewal fees are $200 for prime contractors and $100 for subcontractors.

The prime contractor application and subcontractor application must be mailed to the board. Faxed and emailed applications are not accepted.

Alaska

Alaska requires all contractors to have a professional license. The professional licensing requirements are based on the classification of your contracting license.

Alaska categorizes contractors as either specialty or general contractors.

General Contractors

After submitting an application and defining the contracting work or specialty, the licensing board considers the average project value and scope of work to determine if the applicant will require a “residential contractor endorsement” as a general contractor.

The criteria for general contracting requirements are as follows:

General Contractor Licensee

A general contractor license is required for contractors who do commercial work.

Residential Contractor Endorsement

A residential contractor endorsement is required for general contractors who do new home construction or residential work in which 25 percent of the structure’s assessed value will be altered.

To get this endorsement, contractors need to complete a 16-hour cold climate course and pass the residential contractor endorsement exam.

It is important to note that a holder of a residential contractor endorsement may not work under this endorsement unless assigned to a licensed residential contractor or is a licensed residential contractor.

Specialty Classifications

If the licensing board does not classify you as a general contractor, the specialty contractor and other classifications are as follows:

Specialty Contractors

Specialty contractors do not need to carry an additional license, but they are limited to performing a maximum of three different trades they declare to the board. If you perform more than three trades, you need to apply as a general or residential contractor (list of specialty contractors).

Handyman Contractor

A handyman contractor license is required for contractors who only perform commercial work or residential remodel work costing under $10,000. This total is to include all labor, materials and other project items.

Mechanical Contractor

To perform mechanical work, you must hold a mechanical contractor’s license or employ someone who holds a mechanical administrator license. You can perform any of the mechanical work allowed by your mechanical administrator license.

Installing mechanical controls requires carrying a separate electrical administrator’s license along with a mechanical administrator’s license.

Electrical Contractor

Electrical contractors and communications contractors will need an electrical contractor specialty license.

Electrical contractors must also hold either an electrical administrator license or be assigned a specialty contractor who holds an electrical administrator license.

Along with a contractor’s license, contractors in Alaska must meet some other requirements:

  • Hold an Alaska business license
  • Have workers’ compensation insurance
  • Have a surety bond
  • Have general liability insurance
  • Pay a $350 application fee

The appropriate application can be found here.

More information on licensing requirements and restrictions can be found on Alaska’s Department of Commerce website.

Arizona

In Arizona, all contractors need to be licensed to bid on jobs where labor and material costs exceed $1,000 or if a permit is required. Residential and commercial contracting work requires separate licenses, but the Arizona Registrar of Contractors offers a dual license covering each specific classification.

Arizona’s contracting licensing classifications can be found here.

Getting licensed as a contractor in Arizona involves:

  • Passing a background check
  • Showing proof of a contractor’s bond
  • Providing a government-issued ID
  • Passing a PSI trades exam and PSI AZ SRE Statues and Rules exam (70 percent or higher score)
  • Identifying a qualifying party “with the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills” (as defined under A.R.S. § 32-1122(E))
  • Said qualifying party must meet specific license classification requirements
  • Forming a legal entity (Arizona issues licenses to LCCs, corporations, sole proprietorships and partnerships)

Contractor licensing fees in Arizona vary depending on the scope of work a contractor plans to perform and the contractor classification, typically ranging between $580-$1,050. The different applications can be mailed, hand-delivered or submitted online.

Arkansas

Arkansas state licensing law defines a contractor as a person or organization that submits a bid to construct or demolish a project with a total cost, including labor and materials, over $50,000. Contractors meeting this threshold are required to carry a contractor’s license to work.

Arkansas does not require subcontractors to have a license when working with a licensed prime contractor, but they need a registration certificate. Fortunately, even if you fall into the category of contractors needing a license in Arkansas, the licensing process is pretty straightforward.

Contractors must first submit an application to help the board determine the type of license they will need to carry to get a license.

The types of licenses are as follows:

Restricted Commercial License

If you only plan on submitting bids on projects with a total value of less than $750,000, a restricted commercial license will allow you to do so legally.

Unrestricted Commercial License

An unrestricted commercial license allows contractors to work on jobs of any value.

Residential Builder’s License

A residential builder’s license allows contractors to build single-family residences if the cost of a project is over $2,000. This type of license also allows contractors to remodel homes.

Residential Remodeler License

A residential remodeler license allows contractors to make structural changes to a single-family residence or to add to an existing single-family residence if the project exceeds $2,000.

Home Improvement License

A home improvement license is needed for contractors who do specialty work on a single-family home if the project is over $2,000. This license is only for contractors who do specialty work such as painting, roofing or flooring.

For those just getting their business started, Arkansas does not require contractors to have a license for single-family projects with a total cost that’s less than $2,000.

Once you’ve determined the contractor’s license you need, you’ll need to submit:

  • One-time $100 filing fee to the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board
  • Three written references
  • Copy of your passing score on the Arkansas Business and Law Exam
  • An independent CPA report or a bond worth 10 times the minimum net worth requirement for the license classification
  • Fully-executed contractor’s bond of $10,000
  • If the applicant has one or more employees, you must also submit proof of workers’ compensation insurance

The applications for each classification can be found here.

If you are also applying for a residential license with a classification or specialty, be sure to include the classification with your contractor license application as well. There are no additional fees or tests required to do this.

As of July 2020, military members, their spouses or those recently discharged from the military and all other applicants who have an equivalent license in another state can apply for a temporary license.

Man working at construction site

California

California requires that a licensed contractor perform any construction project costing $500 or more in labor and materials.

The Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) issues licenses for three different classifications:

Class “A”- General Engineering Contractor

A general engineering contractor is a contractor whose primary business is related to work that requires specialized engineering knowledge and skill.

Class “B”- General Building Contractor

A general building contractor is anyone who deals with the building and construction of two unrelated trades or crafts, framing and carpentry projects not included.

Class “B” contractors can take on any project that involves only one trade if the contractor holds the required license for that specialty or subcontracts to someone who does.

Class “C”- Specialty Contractor

A specialty contractor is anyone whose trade or craft requires specialized skill and knowledge. A complete list of specialty contractor classifications can be found here.

To be eligible for a California contractor’s license, applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of four years of qualifying journeyman-level experience within the last 10 years for their classification and pass the required examinations. An applicant’s previous work experience needs to be confirmed by a third party who is considered qualified to do so by the California Contractor Licensing Board.

The party certifying applicants’ qualifying experience must have firsthand knowledge of their work, typically in the form of having worked with them in the past.

Some examples of qualified parties include:

  • Another journeyman who has worked with the applicant
  • A homeowner of a house that the applicant helped build
  • Past or present employee
  • Past or present employer
  • Union representative
  • Building inspector
  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Business associate

After applying and demonstrating proof of qualifying experience, a contractor license candidate in California needs to:

  • Pass a trade-related exam and California Law and Business Exam
  • Submit a fingerprinting Live Scan
  • Pass the asbestos open-book certification exam
  • Show proof of a contractor bond of $15,000
  • Pay a licensing fee of $200
  • Show proof of workers’ compensation insurance

LLCs have additional requirements for acquiring a contractor’s license. An LLC must also have a $100,000 employee/worker bond and a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy. After adding the $330 application fee and $200 license fee, the total cost of your contractor’s license will vary based on each additional classification ($75 each) and the Live Scan fees, which start at $49.

California’s contractor licenses applications can be found online and must be mailed into CSLB.

Licenses are valid for two years, at which point they can be renewed for $450. It is important to note that California does not recognize licenses issued by other states.

Colorado

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies only requires electricians and plumbers to be licensed at a state level to operate.

All other trade licensing requirements are determined at the municipal level, with each imposing a different set of requirements and policies.

Considering that each city and municipality is free to enforce a different set of regulations, the best way to know what it will take to get a contractor’s license in Colorado is with the help of your local planning and developing department.

All businesses in Colorado are required to register with the Colorado Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue.

Connecticut

Depending on the scope of work you intend to do as a contractor, you may not need to carry a license to operate legally.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection assigns contractors into one of several categories to determine licensing requirements.

Depending on the contracting business’s classification, the owner may be required to hold a license, register or both. Due to the complexity of the current classification system, there is no easy way to know what you’ll be required to do without speaking with the Department of Consumer Protection.

These descriptions can help serve as a guideline of what to expect:

New Home Construction Contractor

New home construction contractors need to register with the Department of Consumer Protection to construct new residential buildings. Additional licensing requirements may apply if they need to perform a specific trade.

New home construction contractor registrations expire every odd-numbered year on September 30.

Home Improvement Construction Contractor

Home improvement contractors are required to register on a project basis before beginning work on residential properties.

All registrations expire each year on November 30 and can be renewed or reinstated based on the amount of time since expiration.

Major Contractor

Major contractors must carry a license to perform any work on commercial and residential projects. The major contractor classification is determined by a threshold limit outlined by law. All major contractor registrations expire annually on June 30 and can be renewed for a $500 fee.

The major contractor application includes:

  • Reference letter from a financial institution
  • Reference letter from another contractor or supplier
  • Three reference letters from individuals or businesses familiar with the applicant’s services
  • Proof of general liability insurance
  • Notarized affidavit

Specialty Contractor

Specialty contractors include masonry, electrical work, mechanical contracting, solar, sheet metal and more.

Depending on your trade classification, you may be required to pass a trade-specific PSI exam as a pre-requisite to applying. Please note that the list of contractor classifications and descriptions above does not include every contracting trade specialty. Please get in touch with the Department of Consumer Protection or look online for the complete list and requirements.

All businesses in Connecticut are required to have a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) and register with the Connecticut Secretary of State and Department of Revenue Services.

If your business hires employees, you will need to file an employer status report for unemployment compensation with the Connecticut Department of Labor, register for the Connecticut Paid Leave program and have workers’ compensation insurance.

Delaware

Contractor’s licenses in Delaware are handled by the Delaware Division of Revenue.

Delaware differentiates contractor licensing and registration based on trade and place of residence. General contractors who are residents of Delaware are granted a “resident license,” while those who are not residents are granted a “non-resident license.”

Those deemed “specialty contractors,” such as electricians, home inspectors and HVACR contractors, are not eligible for the general contractor licenses and will need to get licensed through the Delaware Division of Professional Regulation.

A full list of trades considered specialty contractors can be found here.

Assuming you work in a trade that qualifies for general contractor licensing, the process to apply is as follows:

  • Submit your Federal Employer Identification Number (Tax ID)
  • Register your business with the Delaware Department of Labor
  • Show proof of unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation coverage
  • Report your number of employees/subcontractors and details about your payroll (if applicable)
  • Register with the Division of Revenue
  • Contractors applying for a non-resident license will also need to carry and show proof of a surety bond
  • Application fee ($75 times prorated percentage)

After taking care of all the prerequisites, you will then need to submit your Combined Registration Application to the Delaware Department of Revenue.

Delaware does not require contractors to pass a licensing exam to qualify for a license.

The District of Columbia

The District of Columbia requires general contractors, home improvement contractors and salespeople, construction managers and industrial trade contractors to be licensed. The license for general contractors, construction managers and home improvement contractors and salespeople is classified as a basic business license for that specific profession.

The license for industrial trade contractors is classified as an occupational and professional license. Industrial trade contractors will also need a basic business license to conduct business in the District of Columbia. To begin the application process, a candidate must first determine whether they will need a home improvement contractor license, general contractor/construction manager license or industry trade license to operate.

General Contractor License Requirements

Those with a general contractor license can work on commercial jobs ranging from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on the class. General contractor licenses are issued in classes from A to E based on project value.

If general contractors wish to work on home improvement jobs, they must also have a home improvement contractor license.

The application requirements include:

  • A $654.50 fee
  • Proof of general liability insurance
  • Certificate of occupancy/home occupation permit
  • Two pre-printed contracts in triplicate
  • Tax registration
  • Corporate registration with DCRA

Home Improvement Contractor Requirements

Any contractor who performs home improvement work over $300 needs a home improvement contractor license. Home improvement work does not include work done by specialty contractors, such as electrical and plumbing.

The application requirements include:

  • A $288.20 fee
  • Proof of general liability insurance
  • Certificate of occupancy/home occupation permit
  • Corporate registration with DCRA
  • Two pre-printed contracts in triplicate
  • A $25,000 surety bond
  • Criminal history report
  • Salesperson designation letter

Industrial Trade Licenses

Specialty contractors, or those who have “industrial trades,” must have a separate license. A full list of trades and requirements can be found here.

Some specialty trades include:

  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • HVAC Technicians
  • Gas Fitters

The District of Columbia’s Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) allows contractors to apply for their license online.

All licenses must be renewed every two years. Depending on license class, applicants may also need to show proof of additional insurance coverage.

Florida

Florida’s contractor licenses are differentiated based on trade. License applicants in Florida can choose whether they want to be licensed at the state or municipal level but must be registered with the state.

Certified vs. Registered Contractor Licenses

Certified Contractor License (C)

A certified contractor license authorizes a contractor to perform work anywhere in the state of Florida. They possess a certificate of competency issued by the Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) and require educational or work experience.

Registered Contractor License (R)

A registered contractor license restricts the holder only to perform work within the local jurisdiction that holds their certificate of competency.

The Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board issues both certified and registered contractor licenses.

Trade Classifications for Licensing

Whether you apply for a registered or certified license, applicants must classify a trade for their license.

General Contractor

A general contractor (CG or RG) is any contractor who is unlimited in the type of work or services they can perform.

Building Contractor

A building contractor (CB or RB) is any contractor who is limited in the work they can perform to the construction of commercial buildings and single or multiple-dwelling residential buildings that cannot be more than three stories.

Building contractors can also work on accessory use structures and remodel, repair and improve existing building structures.

Residential Contractor

A residential contractor (CR or RR) is a contractor who can only construct, repair, remodel or improve one to three family residencies no more than two stories high and accessory use structures related to the residences.

Other Regulated Trades

  • Sheet Metal
  • Roofing
  • Air-Conditioning
  • Mechanical
  • Pool/Spa
  • Plumbing
  • Underground Utility and Excavation
  • Solar
  • Specialty

Regardless of which license you intend to carry, all contractor license hopefuls in Florida must meet the following qualifications to be eligible:  

  • 18 years or older
  • Submission of electronic fingerprint
  • Proof of general liability insurance
  • Proof of workers’ compensation insurance
  • Passing score on Florida state construction exam
  • Proof of financial solvency (minimum credit score of 660)*

*Applicants with a credit score lower than 660 can still apply but will need to carry a surety bond to do so.

After these qualifications are met, contractors applying for a license in Florida must submit their application along with all documents and fees. Fees vary from $145 to $245, depending on the date you apply.

Georgia

In Georgia, general contractors, specialty contractors and residential contractors that plan on bidding jobs over $2,500 in cost need to be licensed.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, meet the state work experience, project and education requirements, show proof of general liability insurance and have a Tax ID to qualify for a license.

The Georgia State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors separates contractors licenses into four categories:

Residential Basic Contractors Licenses

A residential basic contractor’s license allows a licensee to work on detached one-family homes, two-family residences and one-family townhouses that are not over three stories in height.

Residential Light Contractor’s Licenses

A residential light contractor is allowed to work on multifamily and multi-residential properties in addition to the work allowed by a residential basic contractor’s license.

Please note the size of the building and scope of work for this license is very specific and described in more detail here.

Limited Tier General Contractor’s Licenses

General contractor limited tier licenses allow contractors to perform residential and commercial work up to $500,000 in contract cost.

General Contractor’s Licenses

General contractors may perform any type of work on both residential and commercial projects. Electricians, plumbers, utility contractors, low voltage contractors and air conditioning contractors are licensed by their perspective boards.

All license applicants, except residential basic contractor license applicants, must also show proof of a four-year degree in architecture, engineering, building construction or project management from an accredited university to qualify. A combination of work experience and college-level academic accredited courses may be substituted for the four-year degree requirement.

For general contractor license applicants, this experience must include at least two years working for a licensed general contractor and one year working in engineering, administration, supervision, project management, accounting, estimation, drafting or marketing.

Residential-light applicants do not have specific limitations to their work experience other than being employed by a residential contractor, general contractor or similar. After you have proof of experience and/or education, you will need to make sure you carry the proper insurance amount.

Georgia requires a different amount of general liability coverage for each tier of licensing:

  • General Contractors and Limited Tier Contractors: $500,000 minimum
  • Residential Light Contractor: $500,000 minimum
  • Residential Basic: $300,000 minimum

If you meet all the qualifications and are ready to apply, the process for doing so is as follows:

  • Contact your university to obtain a transcript or start gathering proof of your four years of qualifying experience from past employers
  • Download and fill out a contractor license application or fill one out online
  • Make copies of your required insurance certificates (workers compensation is also required if you have employees)
  • Write a check or get a money order for your $200 application fee
  • Put your application, check or money order, university transcript or proof of work experience and proof of insurance into a single 9×12 envelope and mail to the Board for Residential & General Contractors

After your application is received and approved, you will still have to pass a business and law exam, in addition to a construction exam, before receiving your license.

Both exams are administered through PSI.

Plumber working on kitchen sink

Hawaii

Contractor licensing in Hawaii is handled by The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Anyone who offers, contracts or performs residential, commercial or public works construction, alterations or improvements must hold a contractor’s license. Hawaii classifies contractors as general engineering contractors, general building contractors or specialty contractors.

To help determine whether or not you need a contractor license to operate, Hawaii uses these definitions:

General Engineering Contractor

“A general engineering contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill.”

General Building Contractor

A general building contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built.”

Specialty Contractor

“A specialty contractor is a contractor whose operations as such are the performance of construction work requiring special skills.”

These guidelines explain that any project involving two unrelated building trades or crafts requires contractors to be licensed. Electrical and plumbing contractors must have a separate license specific to their trade. Hawaii issues contracting licenses based on the formation of the company, as follows:

Entity

An entity includes corporations, partnerships, joint ventures, LLP or LLCs.

The requirements for this license include:

  • Register with the Business Registration Division
  • Have a good reputation for honesty, financial integrity and fair dealing
  • Have liability and workers compensation insurance
  • Have an employee who is licensed and designated as the Responsible Managing Employee (RME)

Responsible Managing Employee

To obtain a Responsible Managing Employee license as a contractor, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a good reputation for honesty, financial integrity and fair dealing
  • Have four years of supervisory experience within the last 10 years
  • Pass an examination in their trade classification
  • Be employed by a licensed contracting entity

Sole Proprietor

A contractor license for sole proprietorship must meet these requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a good reputation for honesty, financial integrity and fair dealing
  • Have liability and workers’ compensation insurance
  • Have four years of supervisory experience within the last ten years
  • Pass an examination in their trade classification

Assuming you meet the standards mentioned above, you’ll need to provide the required financial, legal and pertinent documents for your specified licensing application.

After gathering this information, Hawaii Contractors License applicants need to submit:

  • $50 application fee per person and a $663 licensing fee (if licensed between October 1 of an even-numbered year and September 30 of an odd-numbered year)
  • $50 application fee per person and a $494 licensing fee (if licensed between October 1 of an odd-numbered year and September 30 of an even-numbered year)

After submitting all applicable fees and documentation, applicants must then pass a two-part exam administered by Prometric with a score of 75 percent or more before being granted a license.

Idaho

Instead of requiring a license, Idaho requires contractors to register with the Bureau of Occupational Licenses Contractors Board.

Contractors are defined by the Idaho code as any person who in any capacity undertakes, bids or performs construction or a construction manager who performs construction management services.

The only trades that require a license are:

  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Public Works
  • Manufactured Housing

The Idaho Division of Building Safety handles the above licenses.

For those contractors not required to carry a license to operate in Idaho, the registration requires the submission of:

  • Social Security Number for an individual or an Employer Tax Identification Number for a business
  • Name and address where the applicant conducts business
  • Name and address of each principal, member, partner, shareholder or any other person claiming ownership in the business entity
  • Proof of workers compensation and general liability insurance (at least $300,000)
  • $50 Application Fee or a copy of Public Works License
  • The primary type of construction
  • Whether the applicant has ever been licensed or registered as a contractor in any state, including Idaho, or other jurisdiction (if YES, provide the jurisdiction and license/registration numbers)
  • Whether the applicant has ever had a contractor license or registration denied, surrendered, suspended, revoked, or otherwise disciplined in any state, including Idaho, or other jurisdiction (if YES, a copy of the charges and final order needs to be submitted to the Board directly from each issuing authority)
  • Whether the applicant has ever received a conviction, finding of guilt, withheld judgment or suspended sentence for any felony in any state, including Idaho, or other jurisdiction:
    • If yes, attach:
      • A detailed statement of explanation
      • All relevant court documents(summary of charges, final order, and detailed case summary sheet)
      • Status letter from your probation/parole officer (when applicable)

When finished, applicants must print the application, sign, notarize and mail it to the Division of Occupational & Professional Licenses.

Illinois

Illinois does not require new contractors other than roofers to have a license to operate.

All businesses in Illinois are required to register with the Illinois Secretary of State, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the Illinois Department of Revenue. The state leaves contractor licensing up to city and municipal jurisdictions.

To better understand what these local regulations look like, let’s use Chicago as an example. In Chicago, general contractors need a license from the Chicago Department of Buildings to operate.

Contractor’s licenses in Chicago are divided into five classes with varying license fees, depending on the maximum project value a contractor intends to bid.

Class “A” – Contractor License

  • No project value limits
  • $2,000 license fee

Class “B” – Contractor License

  • $10,000,000 project value limit
  • $1,000 license fee

Class “C” – Contractor License

  • $5,000,000 project value limit
  • $750 license fee

Class “D” – Contractor License

  • $2,000,000 project value limit
  • $500 license fee

Class “E” – Contractor License

  • $500,000 project value limit
  • $300 license fee

To get a contractor’s license, applicants must submit:

  • Proof of general liability insurance(with the City of Chicago listed as additional insured)
  • A written description of the work and services performed
  • Documentation of business structure and other company information
  • Affidavit certifying the applicant is financially stable
  • License classification sought

After gathering all required information, applicants must sign and submit their application with all applicable licensing fees to the City of Chicago. Depending on the scope of work planned, it may be wise for certain contractors in Chicago to consider trade-specific licensing.

Some of the trades that qualify for a trade-specific license include:

  • Stationary Engineers
  • Crane Operators
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Masons

Most of the trade licenses offered in Chicago require the applicant to pass a certification exam as a prerequisite to licensing. Information about the exams can be found here.

In some cases, a contractor may need to carry a trade-specific license and a general contracting license.

If you’re confused about which license to get for your business, it may be wise to enlist the help of the Chicago Department of Buildings. The same goes for any city in Illinois where you want to provide contracting services.

Indiana

Indiana does not require contractors to be licensed at the state level.

Indiana leaves licensing rules and regulations to the city and municipal governments, except for plumbers and manufactured home installers.

Detailed instructions on getting licensed to work as a contractor in Indiana can be found on the State Government Website or with the help of your local governing body.

Outside of the varying licensing process from city to city, Indiana does enforce a uniform set of registration requirements that all contracting businesses must meet to operate legally.

Contractors must register their business with the Indiana Secretary of State if they are a formal business entity, as a prerequisite to applying for a license at the city or municipal level.

Outside of registering with the Secretary of State, contracting business owners in Indiana must:

  1. Register with the Indiana Department of Revenue.

This registration requires contractors to submit:

  • Federal ID Number (FID/EIN)
  • Taxpayer Identification Number (TID)
  • location number
  • Relevant business names and numbers
  • Type of organization
  • Indiana Secretary of State control number
  • Important dates for corporations
  • NAICS code
  • Primary mailing address
  • DBA
  • Any tax types for which the business is registering
  1. Register with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

This registration involves setting up payment of unemployment insurance taxes (only applicable in some situations). You will need to have your FEIN number if you are a new employer to register.

  1. Show proof of workers compensation insurance to the Workers Compensation Board.

Workers’ compensation must be obtained from a private insurance carrier. Independent contractors in the construction and building industry must apply to the Indiana Department of Revenue to certify their independent contractor status.

Iowa

Iowa requires all contractors and businesses who perform construction work to register with the Iowa Division on Labor if they earn more than $2,000 a year from construction.

Iowa defines construction as any work involving electrical, plumbing, roofing, house painting, landscaping, windows, cables, elevators, and other activities. A detailed list of the trades required to carry a construction contractor registration and a complete set of guidelines can be found on the State of Iowa Government Website.

In addition to state registration, Iowa requires plumbing, HVAC, hydronic, sheet metal, refrigeration and mechanical contractors to obtain a license at the state level through the Plumbing & Mechanical Systems Board.

Municipalities and cities may also determine their own licensing laws for any contractors.

Contractor Registration Requirements:

All contractor applicants in Iowa must meet the following standards to qualify for a state registration:

  • Business owner’s SSN
  • Carry workers’ compensation insurance
  • Show proof of current unemployment insurance number
  • Submit a copy of criminal conviction records related to professional practice
  • Provide required surety bond with a minimum of $5,000

Applicants must submit everything to the Iowa Division of Labor, along with a $50 registration fee.

Contractor License Requirements:

For those that require a license from the Plumbing & Mechanical Systems Board, you must have the following to apply:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Carry general liability insurance with a minimum of $500,000
  • Business owner’s SSN
  • Carry workers’ compensation insurance
  • Show proof of current unemployment insurance number
  • Submit a copy of criminal conviction records related to professional practice
  • Provide required surety bond with a minimum of $5,000
  • Pass a certified exam

In most cases, fees and applications can be submitted online.

Regardless of license and registration requirements, contractors in Iowa still need to comply with the following professional regulations set forth by the state:

  • Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS
  • Register for and submit documentation of Iowa Tax ID and sellers permit to the Iowa Department of Revenue
  • Set up payment for unemployment insurance tax

More information is available on the Iowa business resources site.

Kansas

Kansas leaves licensing up to the local city, county or municipal authorities. At a state level, contractors are required to register with the Kansas Secretary of State.

Each city, county and municipality enforces a separate set of regulations governing the licensing process for contractors. So, the best way to get clarity into the process is with the help of your local city, county or municipal regulatory board.

Here’s a list of some popular places to start a contracting business in Kansas, along with some links to more information on how to get licensed:

Kentucky

Kentucky defines licensing procedures based on trade. Electrical, HVAC and plumbing are licensed at a state level by the Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction.

Local authorities license all other trades. Regardless of trade, all contractors in Kentucky are required to meet specific business and tax requirements to operate.

To operate a business in Kentucky, you need to:

Some of the more popular places to get a contractors license in Kentucky include:

Construction workers collaborating

Louisiana

Contractors in Louisiana must apply with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and meet requirements to obtain a contractor’s license.

Depending on the nature of work a contractor intends to do, Louisiana offers four types of licenses:

Commercial License

In Louisiana, contractors and subcontractors working on commercial projects over $50,000 need a commercial license.

Louisiana also requires plumbers and electricians working on projects over $10,000 and contractors doing lead and paint abatement/renewal, hazardous wastes, asbestos or underground storage tank work at any project value to carry a commercial license.

The requirements for this license include:

  • A financial statement proving a minimum $10,000 net worth
  • Pass Business & Law and any trade exams
  • Company email
  • SSN and Tax ID

Residential License

All contractors and subcontractors in Louisiana that work on home improvement projects, new single-family dwellings, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes or any other residential construction project over $75,000 need to carry a residential contractor’s license.

Subcontractors and specialty contractors whose project costs exceed $7,500 for residential structures may also apply for this license. See here for the specialty classifications.

The requirements for this license include:

  • A financial statement proving a minimum $10,000 net worth
  • Pass Business & Law and any trade exams
  • Company email
  • SSN and Tax ID
  • General Liability with a $100,000 minimum
  • Workers compensation insurance

Mold Remediation License

Rather than require contractors specializing in mold removal to carry a commercial contractor’s license, Louisiana has this license class for mold remediation projects over $1.

The requirements for this license include:

  • A financial statement proving a minimum $10,000 net worth
  • Pass Business & Law and any trade exams
  • Company email
  • SSN and Tax ID
  • General Liability with a $50,000 minimum
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Mold remediation certificate
  • Business and Law exam

Home Improvement Contractor Registration

Residential contractors working on projects between $7,500 and $75,000 are required to register with the State Board.

The requirements for this registration include:

  • General liability insurance with a $100,000 minimum
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Company email
  • SSN and Tax ID

All businesses in Louisiana are also required to register with the Louisiana Secretary of State, the Louisiana Department of Revenue and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Maine

While a few specializations need a license, Maine does not require most general contractors to have a license or registration at the state level.

Specializations requiring licensing from the state include:

A complete list of specializations can be found at the Office of Professional & Financial Regulation.

Maryland

Maryland requires electrical, plumbing, HVAC and home improvement contractors to be licensed at the state level.

Many local and municipal governments also maintain their own sets of rules on licensing.

Getting a contractors license in Maryland requires registering with multiple licensing agencies to get authorization to run a business:

Maryland maintains four types of contractors license classifications for general contractors, each designed for a specific scope of work:

Home Improvement License

Home improvement licenses are issued by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC).

This license is necessary if you work on residential buildings and individual condominium units.

Home improvement contractor license applicants must provide:

  • Proof of financial solvency
  • Passed licensing exam
  • Articles of incorporation and a Certificate of Good Standing from the Department of Assessments and Taxation (if the contractor represents part of a corporation)
  • Certificate of trade name registration
  • Proof of $50,000 liability insurance

A home improvement license must be renewed every two years. There is a $370 application fee.

*A contractor licensed by the MHIC is not required to hold a construction license issued by the Clerks of the Circuit Court for home improvement contracts. It may be necessary for a contractor to enter into commercial or agricultural contracts.

Electrical Contractor Licenses

Any contractor planning to work on electrical jobs needs to apply for and carry a Maryland master electrical contractors license. Applicants must pass a specialized exam designed to test contractor knowledge on practical knowledge and awareness of current specifications, planning protocols, codes and laws.

In addition to passing the exam, applicants must have at least seven years of experience under the direct supervision of a master electrician or similarly qualified government employee. Up to three years of relevant academic credit may be applied to the work experience requirement.

Maryland also offers journeyperson and apprentice licenses. There is a $20 license application fee.

Plumbing License

A master plumbing license is required for contractors working on plumbing and gas services. Journey and apprentice licenses are also available but cannot work outside of the supervision of a master plumber.

The state of Maryland recently added a sub-class of licensing for natural gas fitters. This designation can be granted independently of a plumbing license or as an additional certification.

Fees for plumbing licenses range from $15 to $70 based on plumbing level classification. Baltimore County and the areas serviced by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission require their own licenses.

HVACR License

Licenses for HVACR commercial and residential technicians in Maryland are split into four levels. Each level has its own qualifying requirements.

Master HVACR License

This license grants its holder the privilege of bidding on and working any HVAC job in the state of Maryland.

There is a $75 application fee.

Master Restricted HVACR License

This license allows the licensee to work in one or more areas of HVACR work. Available specializations include:

  • Full Heating
  • Air Conditioning
  • Forced Air Heating
  • Hydronic Heating
  • Refrigeration
  • Ventilation

Master Restricted license holders are allowed up to three specializations before being required to carry a Master License to operate.

There is a $25 application fee for each category, with a $75 maximum.

Limited HVACR License

A limited HVACR license allows a contractor to bid and work on jobs in one chosen specialization:

  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Air-conditioning
  • Refrigeration

There is a $75 application fee.

Journeyman HVACR License

Rather than restrict the specialization of its licensees, this HVACR license limits holders to working on projects under the supervision of a master, restricted master or fully licensed commercial general contractor.

There is a $20 application fee for a journeyman HVACR license fee. Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC contractors must have general liability insurance of $300,000 and property damage insurance of $100,000 to qualify for a license and operate their business.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts requires a contractor’s license to bid on jobs less than 35,000 cubic feet in size. A registered engineer or architect must supervise jobs exceeding 35,000 cubic feet.

Contractors also must comply with any additional licensing requirements established at the city, municipal or county levels.

The contractor classifications are as follows:

Construction Supervisor License (CSL)

To qualify for a license application, applicants first need to meet the state’s educational and experience minimums.

Even those with enough experience and education to qualify still need to pass a licensing exam, show proof of insurance, and apply for/submit a Massachusetts Tax ID.

For projects under 35,000 cubic feet, Massachusetts maintains four classes of licenses, each designed for a specific scope of work:

Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License

Holders of this license can legally supervise any project with walls up to 10 feet and total square footage of less than 35,000 cubic feet. This license is for contractors working on one and two-family dwellings and agricultural buildings.

Construction Supervisor License for One and Two-Family Dwellings

This license limits contractors to work on single and two-family dwellings with any additional accessory structure.

Specialty Construction Supervisor License

Specialty construction supervisor licensees allow trade-specific contractors to work on buildings less than 35,000 cubic feet, one and two-family dwellings, agricultural buildings and walls less than ten feet.

Specialty trades that qualify for this license type include:

  • Masonry Contractors
  • Insulation Contractors
  • Demolition Contractors
  • Roof Covering Contractors
  • Window, Door, and Siding Installers
  • Solid Fuel Burning Appliance Installers and Servicers

For more information about the licensing requirements for these specialty trades, check out the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.

CSL Requirements:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Massachusetts Tax ID number
  • Passing score on Prometric contractor exam
  • Proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance
  • Documentation of at least three years of qualifying construction work experience
  • A $150 fee

Home Improvement Contractor Registration (HIC)

Contractors and subcontractors who perform home improvement work on existing one to four-unit residential property must register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

Those planning to work on new construction projects under 35,000 cubic feet will also need to carry a construction supervisor license.

Specific projects require both a construction supervisor license and home improvement registration, but different contractors can hold the licenses. The project requirements can be found here.

Registration Requirements:

  • Proof of Secretary of State registration (if a corporation)
  • Doing Business As certificate
  • $150 Base Fee +
    • $100 (0-3 Employees)
    • $200 (4-10 Employees)
    • $300 (11-30 Employees)
    • $500 (Over 30 Employees)
  • Federal Employer Identification Number

Additional Licensing

Construction professionals working in lead abatement, asbestos abatement, plumbing or electrical trades will need to carry additional licenses.

All businesses in Massachusetts need to be licensed by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and register with the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

Michigan

The steps to getting a license in Michigan depend on the scope of work and the size of construction projects. Contractors working on non-commercial projects over $600 need to obtain either a residential builders license or a maintenance and alteration contractor’s license.

Local, county and municipal authorities regulate licensing for commercial projects.

All construction businesses in Michigan must register with the Michigan Department of Treasury, regardless of project size.

Contractors need to meet the education and experience standards set by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, pass a licensing exam and pay relevant fees to apply.

The different non-commercial licenses regulated by the state are as follows:

Residential Builder’s License

A residential builders license authorizes contractors to demo, improve, replace, alter, or repair residential and specific commercial structures.

This license does not grant permission for plumbing, electrical or mechanical work. A residential builder is required to subcontract these trades.

Maintenance & Alteration License

A maintenance and altercation license allows contractors to perform only the specific trades and services for which they are licensed.

Trades that qualify for a Michigan maintenance and alteration license include:

  • Basement Waterproofing
  • Tile and Marble
  • Swimming Pool
  • Demolition
  • Insulation
  • Concrete
  • Siding
  • Masonry
  • Painting
  • Roofing
  • Carpentry
  • Excavation
  • Screen and Storm sash
  • Gutters

Regardless of license class, all residential contractors in Michigan need to meet the following pre-requisites to qualify for licensing:

  • Passing score on residential or maintenance and alteration contractor exam
  • Complete 60 hours of state-approved pre-licensing courses
  • Maintain a valid Michigan driver’s license
  • 18 years of age or older

Assuming a Michigan license applicant meets the prerequisites for qualifying, they will still need to submit a formal application and a $195 licensing fee. Michigan waives the licensing fee for veterans in most cases.

Two men working on construction site

Minnesota

Minnesota requires commercial and residential contractors to have a registration or a license with the Department of Labor and Industry before performing construction work.

Independent Contractor Registration

Commercial and residential contractors and subcontractors are required to register if they do not have a current license.

Minnesota defines commercial contractors as contractors who work on buildings with more than four units. Commercial contractors are only required to have an independent contractor registration.

Please check with your local licensing authority for further licensing requirements regarding commercial projects.

Residential Building Contractor and Remodeler License

A residential contractor or remodeler license is required for those who work on single to four-family buildings.

Both a license and independent contractor registration are not required.

Residential Building Contractor License

A residential building contractor license allows contractors to work on new and existing construction.

Residential Remodeler License

A residential remodeler license limits contractor work to pre-existing structures.

Specialty Contractors

Minnesota requires residential building contractors and remodelers to have a license if they offer more than one special skill or trade.

The special skills are:

  • Exterior Finishing
  • Interior Finishing
  • Excavation
  • Carpentry
  • Masonry
  • Drywall and Plaster
  • Roofing (see special requirements)
  • General Installation Specialties

Remodeler and contractor license requirements include:

  • Pass pre-license exam
  • File with the Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Certificate of liability insurance
  • Tax ID
  • Certification of compliance with Minnesota’s workers compensation law

Roofer License

Roofing contractors who perform residential contracting and remodeling activities over $15,000 must have a residential roofer, residential building contractor or residential remodeler license.

The requirements for a roofer license include:

  • A copy of the Articles of Incorporation
  • Completed Disclosure of Owners, Partners, Officers form
  • Background checks for all those listed on the Disclosure of Owners, Partners, Officers form
  • $15,000 surety bond and power of attorney
  • Certificate of an assumed name
  • Certificate of liability insurance
  • Certificate of workers compensation insurance
  • Qualifying person information
  • Tax ID
  • File with the Minnesota Secretary of State

Other Licensing

Other specialized trades required to carry a license in Minnesota include:

  • Plumbing
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • Manufactured Structures

Minnesota’s licensing fees vary based on the type of license and gross annual receipts.

Mississippi

Mississippi maintains a separate licensing process for commercial and residential construction businesses. Furthermore, Mississippi does not regulate work on jobs under $10,000 in total value. Many cities, counties and municipalities maintain their own sets of regulations for this work.

At the state level, Mississippi maintains these designations:

Commercial Contractor License

All contractors and subcontractors must have a license if they work on any job with a total project value exceeding $50,000 (including labor).

A commercial contractor license is also required for any construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of fire protection systems on public projects with a total project value exceeding $5,000 or private projects exceeding $10,000.

When filling out the application, Mississippi requires you to list any classifications. The major categories are:

  • Building Construction
  • Highway Street and Bridge Construction
  • Electrical
  • Heavy Construction
  • Mechanical
  • Municipal and Public Works
  • Fire Sprinkler Work
  • Solar and Wind Construction

A detailed list can be found here.

The commercial license fee is $400 plus $100 for each additional classification.

Residential Contractor License

A residential contractor license is broken down into three categories.

The residential contractor license fee is $50.

Residential Builder

Any contractor working on a residential project over $50,000 needs to carry a residential contractor license.

A residential builder classification allows residential license holders to work on commercial projects under 7,500 square feet.

Residential Remodeling License

A residential remodeling license is required for residential contractors working on remodel jobs over $10,000.

Residential Roofing License

A residential roofing license is required for residential roofers working on roofing jobs over $10,000.

A state license is not required to perform residential plumbing, electrical or HVAC work on jobs with a total project value of less than $10,000. Still, most city, municipal, and county authorities in Mississippi maintain their own set of licensing rules governing this work.

Commercial and Residential Licensing requirements.

Mississippi maintains a list of prerequisites for qualifying for both commercial and residential licenses:

  • Watch an instructional video on the application process
  • Show proof of relevant experience in the trade of specialization (three job minimum)
  • Show proof of workers compensation insurance (if you hire five or more employees)
  • Register LLC or corporation with the Mississippi Secretary of State (when applicable)
  • Obtain and maintain a Mississippi State Tax ID number and/or Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Obtain and submit a financial statement audited or reviewed a CPA within the last 12 months (commercial license applicants only)
  • Show proof of general liability insurance
  • Pass Mississippi Law and Business Management Exam
  • Provide three reference letters (one from the bank and two from previous co-workers/employers)
  • Pass any relevant trade exams

The Mississippi State Board of Contractors maintains a reciprocity agreement with a handful of other states:

  • Alabama General Contractors Board
  • Alabama Electrical Board
  • Alabama Board of HVAC Contractors
  • Arkansas Contractor Licensing Board
  • Georgia Board of Residential and General Contractors
  • Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors
  • North Carolina Electrical Contractors Board
  • North Carolina State Licensing Board for General Contractors
  • South Carolina Board for Licensing Contractors
  • South Carolina Residential Builders Commission
  • Tennessee Board for Licensing General Contractors

Missouri

Missouri leaves contractor licensing to the local, county and municipal authorities. Missouri does offer a statewide electrical contractor license, but it is only mandatory based on your location.

All businesses in Missouri are required to register with the Secretary of State and maintain a Tax ID to operate legally.

Using Kansas City as an example, applicants must:

  • Be 21 years or older
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Show proof of general liability insurance
  • Show proof of relevant experience in specialized trade
  • Name a supervisor and submit their passing score on an ICC accredited exam

Kansas City offers a wide variety of designations, most of which are designed for a specific trade.

Available classifications in Kansas City include:

  • Sign Contractor
  • Elevator Contractor
  • Electrical Contractor
  • Plumbing Contractor
  • Demolition Contractor
  • Pipe Fitting Contractor
  • Refrigeration Contractor
  • Fire Protection Contractor
  • Residential Building Contractor
  • Gas-Fired Appliance Contractor
  • Heating and Ventilation (HVAC)

Those looking to work as a general contractor or perform multiple specializations on residential projects in Kansas City may want to apply for a residential building contractor license.

While some specialized licenses limit their holder to performing one trade, a Kansas City residential building contractor license authorizes its holder to construct, alter or enlarge a one or two-family dwelling without trade-specific limitations.

The best way to know how to get the green light to work is with the help of your county, city or municipal licensing board.

Here’s a list of some more popular places for construction in Missouri, along with a link to information on how to get licensed:

Montana

In Montana, construction contractors must register with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, and specific trades need to have a license.

Montana defines construction contractors as “anyone who adds to or takes away from a structure, project, development, or improvement to real estate” (39-9-102, MCA).

Contractor Registration

To apply for a construction contractor registration (CR), you need:

There is a $70 application fee.

Specialty Licenses

Montana requires electrical contractors, plumbers and construction blasters to have a state license.

Construction blaster

The requirements for a construction blaster include:

  • Two years of experience under licensed direct supervisor
  • 18 years of age
  • Complete training course
  • No felony or misdemeanor convictions with use of explosives

Electrical Contractor

Montana issues limited and unlimited electrical contractor licenses.

A limited electrical contractor license lists a journeyman electrician as the responsible party, and they can only perform electrical work on residential construction with less than five living units in a single structure.

An unlimited electrical contractor license requires a master electrician as the responsible party and can perform residential, commercial, industrial and institutional work. Both limited and unlimited electrical contractor licenses require proof of compliance with Montana workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment insurance or an independent contractor exemption.

Plumbing License

Montana issues master and journeyman plumbing licenses.

Master plumbers must have four years of work experience as a Journeyman and pass the trade exam 70 percent or better.

Journeyman plumbers must complete an apprenticeship program, have five years of work experience and pass the trade exam with a 70 percent or better.

Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate

Those planning on working as an independent contractor will need to file an Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate to avoid being required to comply with Montana workers’ compensation regulations for employed contractors.

After receiving an exemption certificate or satisfying the state-mandated workers’ compensation coverage requirements, applicants need to send documentation to the Montana Department of Labor proving they are engaged in “their own independently established business” with a copy of their Montana business license.

Nebraska

Nebraska regulates contractor licenses at the city, county and municipal levels. This includes electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors.

All contractors and subcontractors must register with the Nebraska Department of Labor, Nebraska Department of Revenue and enter into a shared contractor registration database.

Contractors can register for both departments through the Nebraska Department of Labor’s Online Contractor Registration Portal.

Applicants register based on how they want to be taxed:

Collect and Remit Sales Tax from Customers on Building Materials

Those who choose this option can purchase building materials tax-free understand that they will be responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax from the customers whose projects the materials were used.

To remain in compliance, a contractor needs to bill all labor on a separate invoice (without sales tax), along with applying for and maintaining a sales tax license from the Nebraska Department of Revenue.

Under this option, contractors are also responsible for paying or remitting sales tax on any equipment purchases or rentals.

Pay Sales Tax on Building Material Purchases

Under this method of taxation, a business owner pays sales tax on purchases of all materials, fixtures, tools and rentals, assuming the seller has not yet collected taxes.

Contractors are also responsible for paying or remitting sales tax on any equipment purchases or rentals.

Remit Tax as Materials are Used

Those opting for this type of taxation can also purchase materials tax-free, with the expectation of remittance upon use.

In other words, while job materials are being held in inventory, the contractor is not required to pay taxes on them. Once materials are used or withdrawn from inventory, the business owner has to remit the tax to the Department of Revenue.

To be compliant with this option, contractors will need to apply for and maintain a Use Tax License from the Department of Revenue, in addition to paying or remitting all sales tax on purchases and rentals of tools used in the completion of projects.

To register in Nebraska, an applicant needs to gather and submit the following information on the portal:

  • Type of business entity (LLC, S-Corp, Sole Proprietorship, etc.)
  • Description of contracting services provided (or NAICS code)
  • Business phone number and mailing address
  • Proof of workers compensation insurance (with name and number of insurance agent)
  • Legally registered business name (DBA)
  • Number of employees
  • The full legal name of the license applicant
  • Unemployment insurance number
  • SSN or Federal EIN
  • Date of birth
  • Full name and job title of each officer, member or subcontractor working with the business

There is a $40 registration fee for the Department of Labor contractor registration.

Nevada

The Nevada State Contractors Board issues licenses for all contractors, subcontractors and specialty contractors.

Nevada issues contractor licenses based on an applicant’s intended scope of work and specialized trades:

General Engineering License (Class “A”)

A Class “A” license is a specialized license designed for engineers.

General Building License (Class “B”)

Designed as a universal licensing solution for most trades, a Class “B” license holder can legally construct, repair, alter or refurbish structures and buildings with a few limitations as described by the board.

Specialty Contractor’s License (Class “C”)

This license class regulates artisan contractors and specialty tradesmen. A Class “C” specialty license grants its holder permission to practice their specialized trade throughout the state of Nevada.

Each specialty requires its own license. The complete list of 36 specialty trades can be found here.

Regardless of license class desired, all applicants in Nevada must meet specific requirements to apply:

  • Show proof of financial responsibility
  • Submit fingerprints for a background check
  • Take and pass a Business and Law (Construction Management Survey) and trade-specific exams
  • Register business with Nevada Secretary of State
  • Contribute money to a Nevada residential recovery fund (residential contractors only)
  • Provide four reference certificates verifying a minimum of four years of relevant work experience
  • Resume with current and past employment
  • Copy of driver’s license or government ID

After gathering all of the required documentation, applicants will need to submit a completed application to the Nevada Contractor’s Board, along with a $300 application fee.

After an application is approved, the applicant must also submit a $600 biennial fee and a surety bond or cash deposit to get their license.

All businesses in Nevada are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance.

New Hampshire

Aside from a few specialized trades, New Hampshire leaves the licensing process up to the city, county and municipal authorities.

The specialized trades required to carry licenses are:

  • Electrical Contractors
  • Plumbing Contractors
  • Lead Abatement Contractors
  • Asbestos Abatement Contractors

Each specialty trades is licensed through their own respective state board with education, experience and documentation requirements. More information is available here.

All businesses in New Hampshire are required to register their business with the New Hampshire Secretary of State and the Department of Revenue Administration.

New Jersey

New Jersey requires a public works registration for all contractors. Home improvement contractors require an additional registration.

Public Works Contractor Registration

New Jersey requires all contractors, subcontractors and lower-tier subcontractors to register with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development for a public works contractor registration certificate.

For registration, applicants must submit:

  • Proof of workers’ compensation insurance
  • Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Responsible owner information
  • Tradecraft specialty if applicable
  • Certify craft apprenticeship if applicable

There is a $300 registration fee.

Home Improvement Contractor Registration

Home improvement contractors are any individual or company that repairs, renovated, modernizes, installs, replaces, improves, restores, paints, constructs, remodels, moves or demolishes residential and non-commercial properties.

Applicants are not required to meet any educational requirements, nor are they required to pass an exam.

The process in New Jersey is as follows:

    • 1st-degree felony
    • 2nd or 3rd-degree felony in violation of Chapter 20 or 21 of Title 2C of the New Jersey statues
    • Any other crime in violation of the codes listed on the disclosure statement
  • Show proof of general liability insurance coverage (minimum $500,000 per occurrence)
  • Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Submit documentation of business name, address, and phone number, along with the name, address and phone numbers of all owners, officers, directors, and principals
  • Pay $110 application fee

Specialty Licenses

New Jersey also requires additional licenses for certain trades:

  • Electricians
  • HVAC
  • Refrigeration
  • Plumbing

All business owners are required to register with the New Jersey Treasury and carry workers’ compensation insurance.

New Mexico

New Mexico offers hundreds of different classifications, each designed for a specific trade and scope of work.

New Mexico requires applicants to submit a classification determination request, after which the state determines the appropriate license to issue.

Both residential and commercial contractors and anyone engaging in “construction-related contracting” in New Mexico are required to carry the appropriate license classification.

After being assigned a license classification, applicants in New Mexico need to obtain a qualifying party certificate by submitting:

Once approved by the New Mexico Construction Licensing Authority (PSI), applicants must pass trade and Business & Law exams within six months.

After getting a qualifying party certificate and passing the exam, an applicant also needs to submit a Construction Industries Division license application to PSI, along with:

  • License bond
  • Tax ID number
  • $36 application fee
  • Documentation of LLC or corporation formation
  • Certificate from the Secretary of State (LLC and LLPs only)

All license holders in New Mexico must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage, regardless of business size.

New York

Local governments regulate the licensing of construction contractors in New York. New York only requires crane operators, asbestos abatement workers and mold remediation to carry a license at the state level.

While the requirements for getting a contractor’s license vary between cities and counties, most construction businesses in New York end up carrying a home improvement license. A home improvement license grants its holder permission to work on new construction, remodels, repairs and demolition. This license is also issued at local levels.

Because the licensing procedure and regulations are different in each city, the best way to know what it will take to work legally in New York is with the help of your local licensing board.

Some of the more popular places to get a license in New York include:

New York requires all businesses to register with the New York Department of State, obtain a tax ID from the New York Department of Taxation & Finance and carry workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

North Carolina

Any contractor who works on projects over $30,000 is considered a general contractor by the North Carolina Licensing Board and required to obtain a license.

North Carolina classifies contractors into four categories:

Building Contractor

A building contractor classification covers all building constructions and demolition activity for commercial, industrial, institutional and residential projects.

Residential Contractor

A residential contractor classification allows for construction and demolition work on residential units.

Highway Contractor

This classification covers all highway construction activity, guardrail installation, fencing, signage and airport runways.

Public Utilities Contractor

Public utility contractors can perform construction work on water and wastewater systems and facilities sub-classified in G.S. 87-10(b)(3).

Specialty Contractor

Specialty contractors include, but are not limited to, concrete, electrical, roofing, asbestos and more.

To be eligible for a license, applicants need to submit the following information and documentation:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Named qualifier
  • Passing licensing exam
  • Documentation of a surety bond
  • A financial statement detailing assets of the owner
  • Proof of registration and business license from the Secretary of State

After gathering and submitting this information with all the applicable fees, applicants are granted one of the following licenses based on their financial standing and the work they intend to perform:

Limited License

A limited license allows contractors to work on projects up to $500,000 in total project value. A minimum working capital of $17,000, a net worth of $80,000, or a $175,000 surety bond is required.

There is a $75 application fee.

Intermediate License

An intermediate license allows contractors to work on projects up to $1,000,000 in total project value, and they are required to maintain minimum working capital of $75,000 or a $500,000 surety bond.

There is a $100 application fee.

Unlimited License

There is no project value limit for an unlimited license. Contractors must maintain a minimum working capital of $150,000 or a $1,000,000 surety bond for this license.

There is a $125 application fee.

If your business employs three or more employees, you need to have workers’ compensation insurance and register with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Businesses with employees in North Carolina are often required to pay unemployment insurance taxes as well.

North Dakota

North Dakota’s licensing process is very straightforward, and they do not require an exam. Contractors must have a license to work on jobs over $4,000.

North Dakota maintains four available licenses classes:

Class “A” License

This license class carries no limitation on the total project value its holder can take on. The licensing fee is $450, with renewals costing $90.

Class “B” License

Class “B” licenses allow holders to perform work on jobs up to $500,000. This license carries an initial fee of $300 and a renewal fee of $60.

Class “C” License

A Class “C” license in North Dakota permits contractors to work on jobs up to $300,000. Licensing fees are $225 with a $45 renewal cost.

Class “D” License

This license allows contractors to work on projects up to $100,000. The initial licensing fee for a Class “D” license is $100 with a $30 renewal fee.

Plumbers, electricians, transient merchants and asbestos abatement business owners must carry separate licenses issued by their respective regulatory board.

The state requires contractors to carry unemployment insurance and workers compensation coverage to operate legally.

All businesses in North Dakota are required to register their business and maintain Sales and Use Tax Permit.

Ohio

In Ohio, only specific trades are required to maintain a state-issued license.

All other licenses, including general contractors, are regulated at the city, municipal and county levels.

Trades required to carry a state license in Ohio include:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • HVAC Contractors
  • Hydronic Technicians
  • Refrigeration Technicians

Here is a list of some of the popular cities and counties to work in Ohio, along with links to more information on applying:

While some municipalities do not require contractors to carry a license to operate, most require workers compensation insurance and a Tax ID.

Woman working on electrical lighting equipment

Oklahoma

Oklahoma does not require general contractors to obtain a state license. City and local authorities administer most contractor licenses in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Construction Industries Board issues trade-specific licenses at the state level:

  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Mechanical contractors
  • Roofers

To qualify for licensing, applicants are required to:

  • Show proof of relevant trade-specific experience
  • Pass a trade exam
  • Pass a business and law exam
  • Provide $5,000 bond (except roofers)
  • Workers’ compensation
  • General liability insurance

Nonresident contractors must complete a non-resident contractor registration, obtain an EIN, post an Oklahoma nonresident contractor bond and register with multiple agencies.

Like most states that choose to leave regulation to the local authorities, Oklahoma requires all businesses to register with the Oklahoma Tax Commission and Secretary of State.

Oklahoma requires all businesses to have workers compensation insurance as well.

Oregon

Oregon generally requires all contractors to obtain a license.

Contractor licenses are issued based on commercial or residential endorsements:

Residential Endorsements

No previous experience is required to qualify for residential endorsements.

Residential General Contractor (RGC)

A residential general contractor can supervise, arrange or perform an unlimited number of unrelated building trades involving any residential or small commercial structure or project.

Residential Specialty Contractor (RSC)

A residential specialty contractor allows contractors to work on one or two unrelated building trades for residential or small commercial projects.

If the project’s total cost is less than $2,500, RSCs can work on a single project involving three or more unrelated building trades.

Residential Limited Contractor (RLC)

The residential limited contractor endorsement is designed for part-time contractors, hobby builders or maintenance contractors.

Residential Developer (RD)

A residential developer endorsement is designed for residential developers arranging the construction of structures or development of property that will be sold after completion.

Home Services Contractor (HSC)

Contractors with this endorsement are authorized to perform repair or replacement services under a home services agreement.

Residential Locksmith Services Contractor (RLSC)

A residential locksmith services contractor endorsement is required for businesses offering locksmith services.

Home Inspector Services Contractor (HISC)

This license endorsement is required for owners of home inspection businesses.

Home Energy Performance Score Contractor (HEPSC)

A HEPSC endorsement is designed for businesses measuring and issuing home energy performance scores.

Residential Restoration Contractor (RRC)

Contractors with an RRC endorsement are authorized to perform restoration services for residential and small commercial structures.

Commercial Endorsements

Most commercial endorsements require trade-specific experience.

Commercial General Contractor Level 1 & 2 (CGC1, CGC2)

CGC1 and CGC2 contractors are licensed to arrange, supervise and perform (partly or completely) an unlimited number of unrelated building trades on any small or large commercial project.

CGC1 contractor needs eight years of construction experience to qualify for licensing.

CGC2 contractor needs four years of construction experience to qualify for licensing.

Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 1 & 2 (CSC1, CSC2)

CSC1 and CSC2 contractors perform work involving one or two unrelated building trades for small or large commercial projects.

CSC1 contractor needs eight years of construction experience to qualify for licensing.

CSC2 contractor needs four years of construction experience to qualify for licensing.

Commercial Developer License

This classification is for commercial developers who arrange to construct structures or develop property they intend to sell.

There is a $325 application fee for a two-year license. Applicants can apply for a dual, residential and commercial, license.

To apply for a license, all contractors must:

It’s important to note that a few trades do not need to be licensed to practice in Oregon. These include:

  • Gutter cleaner
  • Power and pressure washers (non-commercial only)
  • Residential debris and/or construction site cleaners
  • Real estate property managers managing a building under a property management agreement

Pennsylvania

City, county and municipal authorities regulate most contractors in Pennsylvania. Any home improvement contractor or subcontractor who works on projects over $5,000 is required to register with the state’s attorney general.

Manufactured housing installers, crane operators and asbestos and lead removal contractors must also be certified or licensed at the state level. As regulations and requirements vary from place to place in Pennsylvania, the best way to know what it will take to obtain yours is with the help of your local authorities.

Some of the more popular places to work in Pennsylvania include:

Almost all cities in PA require business owners to carry general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

All Pennsylvania businesses are required to register with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Department of Revenue, in addition to obtaining/maintaining a Sales and Use Tax Permit.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island requires all commercial and residential contractors to register with the state.

Contractor Registration

According to the Rhode Island Contractors Board, residential contractors require five hours of pre-education courses for registration, while commercial contractors do not.

A $500,000 certificate of general liability insurance is required as well as a $150 registration fee.

Specialty Licenses

Certain specialties are required to be licensed by the state and have unique qualification requirements.

To receive a license, most specialty trades must:

  • Pass a trade examination
  • Have a valid state business license
  • Have a liability insurance policy
  • Have workers’ compensation insurance
  • Pay $200 application fee

License renewals require various hours of continued education as a prerequisite to applying.

Underground Utility Contractors

Anyone who installs, repairs, alters or replaces underground utilities, sewer lines, storm drainage lines or water lines requires an underground utility contractor license.

Other specialty trades that require individual licenses include:

  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Asbestos and Abatement contractors
  • Roofers

All businesses in Rhode Island must maintain a state-issued tax identification number, pay unemployment insurance tax, register with the Rhode Island Secretary of State and obtain workers’ compensation insurance.

South Carolina

South Carolina requires most contractors to carry a license.

While this definition may seem all-encompassing, the state does maintain a few different license class options to choose between:

General and Mechanical Contractor

The state defines a general contractor as anyone who installs, replaces or repairs a building, structure, highway, sewer, grading, asphalt, concrete paving or other improvements to any real property.

Mechanical contractors include HVAC, plumbing, electrical, refrigeration, lighting protection system, piping and packaged equipment contractors.

A general or mechanical contractor’s license is required for those bidding on commercial, general or mechanical work over $5000 in value. This license allows contractors to work on commercial, industrial and residential projects.

Application and license fees range from $175 to $350.

Specialty Trades

Some specialty trades do not require a license but require a general or mechanical contractor’s license. See the list at the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Residential Builder

A residential builder license is required for those working on a residential building or structure under three stories high, less than 16 units and over $5,000.

Plumbers, electricians and HVAC technicians each have a designated residential license.

There is a $100 application fee and a $160 license fee.

Residential Specialty Contractor Registration

A residential specialty contractor registration authorizes independent, unlicensed contractors to perform specialty trades where the total construction cost exceeds $200.

Residential specialty contractors must be contracted with licensed residential builders, general contractors or property owners.

Application and licensing fees range from $90 to $260.

Manufactured Housing Contractor

Anyone who installs manufactured housing must have a manufactured housing contractor license.

There is a $50 license application fee.

All licenses require the following to qualify:

  • PSI PASS exam report
  • Financial statement or surety bond
  • License fee
  • South Carolina Secretary of State registration certificate
  • Documentation of previous work experience
  • Department of Revenue registration
  • Workers’ compensation insurance

Some cities, counties and municipalities in South Carolina also require separate authorization at the local level.

South Dakota

South Dakota leaves industry regulation to the county, local and municipal authorities, except for asbestos contractors who are licensed at the state level. Because each location maintains a different set of requirements for contractors, the best way to know which license you will need is with the help of your local licensing authority.

Some of the more popular places to work in South Dakota include:

All businesses in South Dakota need to register with the appropriate department, and contractors must maintain a contractor’s tax license from the South Dakota Department of Revenue.

Every business with employees in South Dakota is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Tennessee

Tennessee regulates contractors at a state level through the Department of Commerce and Insurance Board for Licensing Contractors.

The state maintains a few different license classifications for those looking to work in Tennessee, each with its own application process.

A contractor’s license is required for general contractors, subcontractors and construction managers that meet the following criteria:

Prime (General) Contractor

Tennessee requires project managers or other parties who bid/contract directly with the owner of a project over $25,000 to have a prime contractor license.

Subcontractor

Tennessee defines a subcontractor as a party working directly with or under the supervision of a prime or general contractor.

Subcontractors must have a contractor’s license when working on projects over $25,000 for electrical, mechanical, plumbing, HVAC, roofing and masonry* work.

*Masonry subcontractors have to be licensed as a contractor when the project exceeds $100,000.

Construction Management

A construction manager must have a license when projects are $25,000 or more and do not work directly with the owner.

For projects less than $25,000:

Home Improvement License

A home improvement license authorizes its holder to perform repairs, additions, and improvements on residential projects between $3,000 and $24,999 in total value. It does not authorize plumbing, HVAC or electrical work. Please check with your local jurisdiction for licensing requirements regarding that work valued under $25,000.

A home improvement license is required in the following counties:

  • Bradley
  • Davidson
  • Haywood
  • Hamilton
  • Knox
  • Marion
  • Robertson
  • Rutherford
  • Shelby

Limited Licensed Electrical (LLE)

This license authorizes a Tennessee contractor to perform electrical work on projects under $25,000 in counties without mandatory electrical inspections.

Limited Licensed Plumber (LLP)

This license authorizes a Tennessee contractor to perform plumbing work on projects under $25,000 in counties without mandatory plumbing inspections.

License Classifications

Contractors are also assigned one or more of the following classifications along with their contractor’s license:

  • Residential, Commercial and/or Industrial Building
  • Electrical
  • Mechanical (Plumbing and/or HVAC)
  • Heavy Construction
  • Highway, Railroad and Airport
  • Masonry
  • Municipal Utility
  • Environmental
  • Specialties

Building Construction (BC)

This classification authorizes a license holder to work in 34 building categories without restriction.

Residential (BC-A)

BC-A classification authorizes a license holder to perform work building, remodeling, repairing or improving one to four-unit residential properties under three stories tall.

Limited Residential (BC-A/R)

The BC-A/r license allows a contractor to perform work building, remodeling, repairing or improving a single-family dwelling in Tennessee on projects up to $125,000.

Commercial (BC-B)

This classification is designed for contractors who build, alter, repair or demolish buildings used by the general public, including residential projects with more than four units or more than three stories.

Like the BC classification, a BC-B classification has no restriction on trades practiced or project cost.

Small Commercial (BC-B(sm)

BC-b (sm) classification grants a license holder all of the same privileges as a Commercial BC-B classification, albeit with a project value limit of $1.5 million.

Industrial (BC-C)

The BC-C License classification grants the same privileges as a BC-B classification for industrial buildings like wastewater treatment plants or factories. This classification does not have a project value limit.

Other Classifications

Other classifications for licensed contractors include:

  • Masonry
  • Specialty
  • Heavy construction
  • Highway, railroad and airport construction
  • Municipal and utility construction
  • Mechanical contracting
  • Electrical contraction
  • Environmental
  • Medical gas piping

See a full, detailed list with exam requirements here.

All Tennessee contractors must pass the Tennessee Business and Law Exam and any required trade exams as part of the qualification process.

Other requirements for a license include:

  • Review or audited financial statement
  • Reference letters
  • General liability insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Register with the Secretary of State
  • Contractor’s affidavit
  • $250 fee

Texas

If you work as a plumber, electrician or HVAC technician, you need to carry a state-issued license to operate legally in Texas.

Local authorities regulate all other contractors.

While each city, county and municipality maintains a different set of rules and regulations, this list will help point you in the right direction:

All Texas businesses are required to register with the Texas Secretary of State and Texas Comptroller, in addition to showing proof of workers’ compensation insurance.

Most businesses in Texas are also required to carry general liability insurance to work on commercial projects.

Utah

The Utah Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing regulates the construction industry in Utah.

In Utah, you can apply for either a general or specialty contractor license.

General Contractor

General building contractors are defined as being “qualified by education, training, experience and knowledge to perform or superintend the construction of structures for the support, shelter and enclosure of persons, animals, chattel, or movable property of any kind.”

General building contractor work does not include plumbing, electrical work, mechanical work, manufactured housing installation or any work related to the operational integrity of an elevator unless the work is on a single or multi-family residence up to four units in size.

General contractor classifications include:

  • General Building Contractor (B100)
  • Residential/Small Commercial Contractor (R100)
  • General Engineering Contractor (E100)
  • General Plumbing Contractor (P200)
  • Residential Plumbing Contractor (P201)
  • General Electrical Contractor (E200)
  • Residential Electrical Contractor (E201)

A general contractor license requires two years of work experience in the construction industry or supplemental education and passing the Utah Business & Law exam.

Specialty Contractors

Specialty contractors are defined as a person who can perform construction trades and crafts that require specialized skills.

Utah maintains 25 classifications. Specialty contractors can only apply for three specialty classifications at a time.

Al contractors need to meet the following requirements to qualify for licensing in Utah:

  • Take a state-certified 25-hour pre-license course (Utah Home Builders (UHB) or Associated General Contractors of Utah (AGC))
  • Show proof of general liability insurance (minimum required coverage $100,000 each incident and $300,000 total coverage with DOPL listed as certificate holder)
  • Register business entity with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code (if a corporation, LLC, LLP or partnership)
  • Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Meet experience requirements (varies based on general or specialty license)
  • Show proof of workers compensation insurance (if you have employees or have owner-workers holding less than eight percent ownership)

Utah application fees are as follows:

  • New applicant (one classification + one qualifier) – $225.00
    • Each additional classification – $175.00
    • Each new or additional qualifier – $50.00
  • Business registration fee – $22.00 to $52.00
  • Registration for additional owners (less than eight percent ownership) – $20 each
  • Surcharge fee – $1

Vermont

Vermont’s Department of Fire Safety regulates the licensing of electrical, plumbing and elevator contractors. All other contractors are licensed at the local level.

Most applicants will need to take multiple exams and meet some other requirements before qualifying for a license. Vermont offers apprenticeship programs for plumbing and electrical trades.

To enroll in the Vermont plumbing or electrical apprenticeship program, applicants need to register with the Vermont Department of Labor and work under a licensed master plumber or electrician before earning a certificate and qualifying for their own license.

Licenses for plumbers and electricians are offered in three classes, each requiring a different level of qualifying experience:

Specialist Electrician

This electrician license is for anyone focusing on one specific specialization in electrical contracting, such as appliances or motor repairs. To qualify, an applicant needs to have completed a recognized training program from an accredited school plus one year (2,000 hours) of experience.

Specialist electrician license can also be obtained after having two years (4,000 hours) of experience. The cost for a specialist electrician license is $115 for a three-year license, with a $10 certificate fee and $65 for the standard exam ($100 for a computer exam).

Journeyman Electrician

A journeyman license is the first license available to a contractor who has completed their apprenticeship and earned an apprentice certificate.

Applicants must complete the apprenticeship program and apply in no more than two years after completion, in addition to passing a certification exam.

Electricians who opt to work outside of the apprenticeship program need 12,000 hours of trade experience to qualify for a journeyman license.

A three-year journeyman electrician license costs $115, with an exam fee of $65 ($100 for computer-based version) and a certification fee of $10.

Master Electrician

After two years working as a journeyman electrician, a contractor becomes eligible to apply for a master electrician license.

If you have not been a journeyman for two years, this license requires a signed affidavit from a previous employer verifying a minimum of 16,000 of electrical work to qualify.

A certification exam is required that costs $65 for the standard version and $100 for the computer version.

The cost of a master electrician license in Vermont is $150 for a three-year license, with a $10 certification fee.

Limited Licensure Specialist Plumber

This license class is designed for plumbers who only practice a single specialized trade (i.e., servicing water heaters). Each additional plumbing specialization sought requires a separate license, exam and fee.

An applicant must demonstrate either a minimum of 2,000 hours of apprenticeship experience certified by the Vermont Department of Labor or 4,000 hours of experience working under another plumbing specialist or master plumber.

Specialist plumber applicants are also required to take 144 hours of accredited education and pass an open book exam. Most plumbing specialist licenses cost $50 per specialty and are valid for two years.

Journeyman Plumber

A plumber looking to get a journeyman license needs either a certificate of apprenticeship or 12,000 hours of qualifying experience working under a master plumber to be eligible to apply. These licenses are issued for two-years for $90 with a $10 certification fee and another exam fee.

Master Plumber

Applicants for a master plumber license need a minimum of 14,000 hours of instruction, training and experience or be a licensed Vermont journeyman plumber for one year.

Master plumber license applicants are also required to take an open book certification exam. A two-year master plumber license costs $120, with a $10 certification fee and another exam fee.

Vermont has a reciprocity agreement with Maine and New Hampshire for electrical contractors. Reciprocity for other trades is based on similar education, experience or military service.

All Vermont businesses must register with the Vermont Secretary of State and register for a business tax account.

Businesses with employees are also required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance and register with the Department of Labor.

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation regulates all contractors and tradespeople who work on projects over $1,000.

Virginia issues contractor’s licenses based on monetary value and specialty, which expire after two years. Virginia maintains three different contractor license classes, each designed for a different scope of work:

Class “A” 

This license authorizes its holder to work on a single project over $120,000 or multiple projects over $750,000 during 12 months.

Class “A” applicants need to have a minimum of five years of industry experience to qualify, along with a minimum net worth of $45,000.

Class “B”

Class “B” licenses are designed for those who work on projects between $10,000 and $120,000 in total value or work on multiple projects less than $750,000 during 12 months.

The Class “B” license is common among residential contractors.

To qualify for this license, an applicant must have at least three years of qualifying experience along with a minimum $15,000 net worth.

Class “C”

A Class “C” license authorizes its holder to work on projects valued between $1,000 and $10,000 or multiple projects less than $150,000 during 12 months.

Applicants must have at least two years of experience.

Specialty Contractors

The following specialties require additional certifications or licenses:

  • Asbestos
  • Accessibility Services
  • Blast/Explosive
  • Electrical*
  • Elevator/Escalator
  • Fire Sprinkler
  • Gas Fitting
  • HVAC*
  • Lead Abatement
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas
  • Manufactured Home Contracting
  • Natural Gas Fitting Provider
  • Plumbing*
  • Radon Mitigation
  • Sewage Disposal System
  • Water/Well Pump

*These specialty trades require a tradesman license and exam. Information can be found here.

Application Information

After deciding on a classification, you’ll need to submit the following information to apply:

  • Business entity formation (licenses are not granted to individuals – LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, etc.)
  • Legal business name (DBA)
  • Proof of registration with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (State Corporation Commission (SCC) Number)
  • Business mailing address (P.O. Box allowed)
  • Business street address (P.O. Box not allowed)
  • Business phone number and email address
  • Name(s) of Responsible Managing Party/Parties (Officers, Owners, Members, Partners, etc.)
    • Legal Name
    • Job Title
    • Home Address
    • SSN or VA DMV Control Number
    • DOB
    • Copy of government-issued photo ID
  • Name(s) of Qualified Individual(s) (at least one legitimate full-time employee or member of responsible management who meets the professional experience requirements for licensing)
  • Name(s) of Designated Employee(s) and proof of passing score on trade and business exams (Class “A” and Class “B” only)
    • Full name
    • Date of birth
    • SSN or VA DMV Control #
    • Exam pass date
  • Documentation of completion of state-certified pre-license education course by a designated employee
  • Applicable license fee & business registration fee
    • Class “A” – $385.00
    • Class “B” – $370.00
    • Class “C” – $235.00
    • Annual Business Registration – $50.00
  • Disclosure statement if a business, qualified individual, responsible management or designated employee has ever:
    • Been convicted or found guilty of ANY felony or misdemeanor
    • Received a disciplinary action from a local, state or national regulatory body in Virginia
    • Been delinquent on past-due debts (including child support), legal judgments, settlements, liens and/or taxes (also must disclose any defaults on bonds and pending/past bankruptcies)
  • Acknowledgment that all responsible management members understand local licensing requirements (in all counties, cities and towns in Virginia where work will be performed)
  • Proof of Meeting Net Worth Requirements and Surety Bond
    • Class “A” – $45,000
    • Class “B” – $15,000
    • Class “C” – none

All businesses with employees in Virginia are required to carry workers’ compensation.

Washington State

Washington requires all contractors to be registered with the Department of Labor and Industries. Contractors can register as either general or specialty contractors.

General Contractor

General contractors can perform most construction work and can have multiple specialty trades.

General contractors can also hire subcontracts.

Specialty Contractor

A specialty contractor classification is for those who plan to practice a single specialized trade. Specialty contractors cannot hire subcontractors.

The specialty trades required to carry a state license and pass a certification exam are:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • Mobile Home Installation
  • Boilers
  • Asbestos

Registration

To register as a contractor, one must:

  • Register with the Department of Revenue
  • Get a surety bond ($12,000 for general contractors, $6,000 for specialty contractors)
  • Have general liability insurance
  • Application fee of $117.90

All businesses with employees who work in “hazardous jobs” in Washington must also carry workers’ compensation.

Regardless of the classification sought, all contractors in Washington should reach out to their local governing authority to learn about the local laws governing contractors in their city, county or municipality for registration and licensing.

West Virginia

All contractors in West Virginia must possess a license if the total cost of a job is $5,000 or more for residential work and $25,000 or more for commercial work.

West Virginia offers state contractor licenses for the following trades:

  • Concrete
  • Electrical
  • Excavation
  • General Building
  • General Engineering
  • HVAC
  • Manufactured Home Installation (HUD Certified Homes Only)
  • Masonry
  • Multi-Family
  • Piping
  • Plumbing
  • Remodeling & Repair
  • Residential
  • Sprinkler and Fire Protection
  • Structural Steel Erection
  • Utilities

Please note that specialty licenses can only be issued if the job does not meet the definition of any of the following listed trades. Definitions can be found in §30-42-3 of the State Code.

To become a licensed contractor in West Virginia, applicants will need to take the following steps:

  • Notify the West Virginia Contractor Licensing Board of your intended scope of work and all specialty trades you intend to practice or supervise
  • Pass the state-mandated certification exams for those trades (not all trades require passing an exam)
  • Take and pass the state-mandated Business & Law Exam
  • Register your business with the West Virginia Tax Department and obtain a Business Registration Tax Number
  • Obtain and show proof of workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment compensation (if you have employees or hire subcontractors)
  • Show proof of general liability insurance
  • Complete and sign an application and affidavit
  • Submit the application, proof of insurance, exam results, and all other requested documents with the applicable licensing and registration fees (application fee for contractors is $90)

More information on the exam, along with study materials and testing locations, can be found here.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin requires residential contractors and specific specialty trades to be licensed at the state level by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Commercial general contractors do not require a license at the state level.

Wisconsin applicants need to get a license from the Department of Safety and Professional Services. They also need to get a Wisconsin Dwelling Contractor Qualification to work on one and two-family dwelling units.

For residential contractors, the dwelling contractor license is issued at three different levels.

Dwelling Contractor Certification

The dwelling contractor certification allows owners of contracting businesses, partner businesses, board chairpersons or CEOs to build one and two-family dwelling units.

This license requires the following:

  • A $40 fee
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Proof of financial responsibility (either a $25,000 bond or liability insurance)

Dwelling Contractor Restricted Certification

Business owners, partners, CEOs and board members can apply for a restricted dwelling contractor certification.

Dwelling contractors with a restricted certification can obtain a bond of less than $25,000 as long as the estimated cost of work is less than the bond amount.

This license requires the following:

  • A $40 fee
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Bond between $5,000 and $25,000

Dwelling Contractor Qualifier

The dwelling contractor qualifier is required for individuals who work on one and two-family homes and/or do work requiring pulling building permits.

Applicants must complete at least 12 hours in the approved initial dwelling contractor course and submit a $45 fee.

Specialty Trades

Wisconsin maintains a different licensing process for different trades and requires additional special certifications or credentials including, but not limited to, the following trades:

  • Automatic Fire Sprinkler
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • HVAC
  • Manufactured Homes Installer
  • Utility

Professionals practicing one of these specialty trades are required to take a specialized course and pass a trade-specific exam, in addition to the dwelling contractor qualifier for residential projects.

For commercial contracting requirements, please contact your local licensing authority.

Wyoming

Wyoming does not regulate its construction industry at a state level, except for electricians. However, many cities, counties and municipalities maintain their own sets of rules governing this work.

Here is a list of some of the more popular places to work in Wyoming, along with some links to more information:

All businesses in Wyoming are required to register with the Secretary of State and maintain tax credentials.

Businesses with employees are required to carry workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

The construction insurance specialists at Higginbotham are standing by to help answer your questions. We will work with you to understand the unique needs of your contracting or other construction business and help you get everything you need to protect your business, from insurance to bonds to risk management services.

Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

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