August 13, 2019

How to Get a Contractors License (Updated for 2019)

If you’re thinking about starting a general contracting business, you’ll likely need to get a contractors license to do so legally.

Fortunately, this 2019 guide to how to get a contractors license was written in you in mind.

In the following sections, you’ll learn how to get a contractors license in every state in the United States, along with the city, county and municipal contractor licencing laws in states that don’t require a contractors license at the state level.

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Alabama 

In Alabama, contractors need to be licensed to work on commercial and industrial projects with a total project cost of $50,000 or more.

For residential projects and swimming pools, licensing requirement limits are set at $10,000 and $5,000 respectively. It’s important to note that Alabama includes the cost of labor into the total project cost calculation.

Assuming you are planning to bid on projects in excess of the Alabama contractor licensing limits, you’ll need to apply for a “Prime Contractor license to do so.

These licenses are issued by the Alabama State Licensing Board for General Contractors and contractors are required to submit proof of workers compensation coverage and a tax ID in order to be approved to take the licensing exam.

As of June 2019, the application fee for a general contractor is $300 and the fee for a subcontractor is $150. Study guides and licensing exam preparation materials are available here.

Alaska

Alaska requires all contractors to have an Alaska Business License, in addition to carrying applicable workers compensation, a surety bond, and general liability insurance coverage.

Once you have those taken care of, your additional licensing requirements will depend on your contractor classification.

In assessing licensing requirements, Alaska categorizes a contracting business into one of three different categories:

  • General
  • Mechanical
  • Specialty

After submitting an application and defining the type of contracting work planned, the licensing board considers average project value and scope of work to determine if they will require a “residential contractor endorsement”.

Regardless of whether you are required to have a residential contractor endorsement, all residential contractors in Alaska are required to carry one of these three licenses:

General Contractor with Residential Contractor Endorsement

 Required for general contractors that do new home construction or residential work in which 25% of the assessed value of the structure will be altered. To get this endorsement, contractors need to complete a 16-hour cold climate course and pass the residential contractor endorsement exam.

General Contractor without Residential Contractor Endorsement

 Required for general contractors that only do commercial work and residential contractors that do not do new home construction or remodel work in excess of 25% of the assessed value of the structure being altered.

General Contractor Handyman

Required for contractors who only perform commercial work or residential remodel work with a project cost under $10,000.

If the licensing board ends up classifying you as a Specialty or Mechanical contractor, your licensing requirements will be different:

Specialty Contractors

Do not need to carry an additional license but are limited to performing a maximum of three different trades they declare to the board.

Mechanical Contractors

Can perform any mechanical work on a project with an administrator assigned. Performing installation work requires carrying a separate electrical administrators license.

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

Arizona

Arizona requires both residential and commercial contractors to be licensed to bid on jobs of $750 or more. For contractors who perform both residential and commercial work, the Arizona licensing board also offers a dual license covering both.

Getting licensed as a contractor in Arizona involves:

  • Passing a Background Check
  • Showing Proof of a Contractors Bond
  • Submitting Relevant Business Tax Information
  • Passing a PSI and Business Management Exam (70% or higher score)
  • Identifying a Qualifying Party “with the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills” (as defined under A.R.S. § 32-1122(E)).

Contractor licensing fees in Arizona vary depending on the scope of work a contractor plans to perform, typically ranging between $580-$1050.

Aerial view of two construction workers standing in a contruction site for a new underground garage

Arkansas

For those just getting their business started, Arkansas does not require contractors to have a license for projects with a total cost that’s less than $2,000. Arkansas is also a good place for subcontractors to start a business as they do not require a license when working on a project with a licensed general contractor.

Fortunately, even if you fall into the category of contractors needing a license in Arkansas, the licensing process is pretty straightforward.

Arkansas state licensing law defines a contractor as a person or organization that submits a bid to construct or demolish on a project with a total cost in excess of $50,000.

Contractors meeting this threshold are required to carry a contractor’s license to perform work.

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

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. However, if you intend to work on projects in excess of $750,000, you will need an Unrestricted Commercial License.

Once you’ve determined the contractor’s license you need, you’ll need to submit a one-time $100.00 filing fee to the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, along with three written references, a copy of your passing score on the Arkansas Business and Law Exam, an independent CPA report, and a fully-executed Contractor’s Bond in the amount of $10,000.

California

To be eligible for a California contractors license, an applicant must be at least 18 years old and have a minimum of 4 years of qualifying journeyman-level experience within the last 10 years.

This experience needs to be confirmed by a third-party who is considered qualified to do so by the California Contractor Licensing Board.

Some examples of qualified parties include:

  • Another Journeyman Who Has Worked with the Applicant
  • Homeowner of a House the Applicant Helped Build
  • Past or Present Employee
  • Past or Present Employer
  • Union Representative
  • Building Inspector
  • Architect
  • Engineer

The party certifying an applicant’s qualifying experience must have firsthand knowledge of their work; typically in the form of having worked with them in the past.

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

  • Pass a Trade-Related 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

Applicants are also required to show proof of Workers Compensation Insurance or a Certificate of Self-Insurance of Worker’s Compensation from the California Department of Industrial Relations, in addition to showing proof of carrying LLC Liability Insurance (if applicable).

Adding the $330 Exam Application fee to the $200 License Fee, and $49 Live Scan Processing the total cost for getting a Contractor License in California is $579.

Licenses are valid for 2 years, at which point they can be renewed at a cost of $400.

Colorado

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agency 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.

Despite the state’s hands-off approach to regulating contractor licenses, every business (contractors included) is required to hold a business license to operate.

 In order to be licensed to do business in Colorado, an applicant must submit proof of General Liability Insurance and a tax ID to the Secretary of State.

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 contractors’ license in Colorado is with the help of your local Planning and Developing department.

Connecticut

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

Rather than follow the one-size-fits all approach taken by many states, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection assigns contractors into one of several categories to determine licensing requirements.

Depending on the classification assigned to a contracting business, the owner may be required to hold a license, register at the state level, or do both.

As of June 15th, 2019, current classifications include:

  • Major Contractor
  • New Home Construction
  • Specialty Trade Contractor
  • Home Improvement Contracting

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:

Major Contractor

Must carry a license to operate legally. Allowed to perform any type of work on both commercial and residential projects.

New Home Construction Contractor

Need to register with the Department of Consumer Protection. May be required to carry a license if they perform certain trades (i.e. framing).

Home Improvement Construction Contractor

Required to register on a project-basis before beginning work.

Those required to carry a Major Contractor License to operate need to pass a trade-specific PSI Exam as a pre-requisite to applying.

After passing the exam, applicants must submit:

  • Reference Letter from a Financial Institution
  • Reference Letter from Another Contractor or Supplier
  • (3) Reference Letters from Individuals or Businesses Familiar with Services
  • Proof of General Liability Insurance
  • Proof of Passing Exam Score
  • $220 Application Fee
  • Notarized Affidavit

All businesses in CT are required to maintain a Tax ID and Use Tax Permit from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.

Businesses with employees must also carry workers compensation insurance.

Delaware

Contractors licenses in Delaware are handled by the Delaware Department of Revenue.

Interestingly, unlike most other states, the licensing and registration process for contractors is completed using the same form.

In lieu of differentiating between contractors who only need to register and those who need to be licensed, Delaware has chosen to differentiate based on trade and residency.

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” (i.e. electricians, home inspectors, architects, etc.) are not eligible for either general contractor license, 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 Revenue
  • Show proof of Unemployment Insurance and Workers Comp Coverage
  • Report Your Number of Employees and Details About You Payroll (if applicable)

Contractors applying for a nonresident license will also need to carry and show proof of a Surety Bond.

After you’ve taken 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. 

Contractor photographed from an aerial view cutting a large board with a table saw while wearing a yellow safety vest and blue hard hat
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The District of ColUmbia

When it comes to getting a Contractor’s License in The District of Columbia, the process can be a bit more complicated than most.

Unfortunately for General Contractors in DC, working legally often requires carrying a variety of licenses, certificates, and registrations.

On the bright side, The DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) allows Contractors to apply for their license online.

To begin the application process, a candidate must first determine whether they will need a Home Improvement Contractor License or General Contractor/Construction Manager License to operate.

Both licenses require applicants to submit:

  • EIN/Tax ID number
  • Proof of General Liability Insurance (LINK)
  • Clean Hands Certification
  • Home Improvement Salesperson License
  • Corporate Registration with DCRA
  • Certificate of Occupancy (only in certain cases)

After checking all these boxes, DC home improvement contractor license applicants also need to submit:

  • $25,000 Surety Bond
  • Criminal History Report
  • Salesperson Designation Letter
  • Sample of a Home Improvement Contract

General Contractor and Construction Manager License applicants will typically need to submit (3) copies of a minimum of two sample contracts and receipts.

Depending on license class, these applicants may also need to show proof of additional insurance coverage.

To figure out if you need a DC General Contractor License or DC Home Improvement Contractor License, you’ll need to decide if you’re interested in bidding commercial jobs.

If you only plan to work on residential projects, you’ll only need a Home Improvement Contractor License and Basic Business License for the Home Improvement Salesperson.

Those who opt for a General Contractor License will also need to obtain a Basic Business License for the Home Improvement Salesperson.

Holders of this license are permitted to work on both residential and commercial projects, without needing to hold a separate Residential License.

Both licenses are good for a period of (2) years before needing to be renewed.

Florida

Getting licensed in Florida is a unique process.

Unlike many other stares that differentiate between residential and commercial licenses Florida’s licenses are differentiated based on the area a contractor intends to work.

License applicants in Florida can choose whether they want to be licensed at a state level or municipal level.

While both types of contractor licenses in Florida are handled by the same organization (The Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board), the requirements and process for getting each is different.

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 (LINK) Insurance
  • Proof of Workers Compensation Insurance (LINK)
  • 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 an application, along with all applicable application and licensing fees.

As aforementioned, Florida offers contractors both a municipal and statewide licensing option.

A Certified License authorizes a contractor to perform work anywhere in the state of Florida, while a Registered License restricts its holder to only performing work within a specified local jurisdiction.

Georgia

In Georgia, any contractor planning on bidding jobs over $2,500 in cost need to be licensed.

Qualifying for licensing in Georgia requires meeting the state educational requirements taking a class, passing an exam, showing proof of General Liability Insurance (LINK), and a Tax ID.

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

Residential Basic Contractors Licenses

Allowed to work on family homes and two-family residences/town homes.

Residential Light Contractors Licenses

Also allowed to work on multifamily & multi-residential properties.

Limited Tier General Contractors Licenses

Can perform residential and commercial work up to $500,000 in contract cost.

General Contractors Licenses

Can perform any type of work on both residential and commercial projects.

Considering the lengthy process of getting licensed, you should carefully consider the type of work you may want to do with your contracting business before deciding on a license type.

Turning our attention to the educational requirements in Georgia, this state may be the most unique. As crazy as it sounds, Georgia requires applicants to show proof of a 4-year degree in Architecture, Engineering, Building Construction, or Project Management from an accredited university to qualify.

Fortunately for those who are not interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, Georgia also accepts 4 years of construction work experience as a prerequisite for licensing.

This experience must include at least 2 years working for a licensed general contractor and one year in engineering, administration, supervision, project management, accounting, or marketing.

For those with some college experience and some work experience, Georgia also accepts a combination of work and accredited academic experience as a qualification for applying. After you have your proof experience and/or education, you will need to make sure you are carrying the proper amount of insurance for the license you are applying for.

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

General Contractors and Limited Tier Contractors: $500,000 minimum GL Coverage

Residential Light Contractor: $500,000 minimum GL Coverage

Residential Basic: $300,000 minimum GL Coverage

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 4 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 Comp (LINK) 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 large envelope.

Mail the envelope to this address:

Address for the Georgia State Contractors Licensing Board

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.

Orange backhoe sitting on a level dirt pad at a construction site

Hawaii

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

To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years old and meet certain educational, experience, insurance, testing, and other requirements.

Specifically, the requirements for qualifying for a Contractor’s License in Hawaii are:

  • Have a Good Reputation for Honesty, Financial Integrity, and Fair Dealing
  • Show Proof of General Liability (Link) and Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Prove 4 years of relevant supervisory experience in the last 10 years
  • Pass Trade-Specific License Classification Exam
  • At least 18 years of Age

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

“A General Building Contractor is a contractor whose principal contracting business is in connection with any structure built, being built, or to be built.”

These guidelines go on to explain that any project involving two unrelated building trades or crafts requires contractors to be licensed to work legally.

Assuming you meet the standards mentioned above, you’ll need to provide:

  • A Current Financial Statement Compiled, Reviewed or Audited by an Independent Accountant
  • Documentation of your Business Registration Division-Approved Trade Name (If using one)
  • A GL Insurance Certificate from an insurance company authorized to do business in Hawaii

-Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: $100,000 each Person, $300,000 each Occurrence

-Property Damage Liability Coverage: $50,000 each Occurrence

  • Credit Report for Each Officer, Partner, Manager or Member within the last 6 months
  • Proof of Entity Registration with the Hawaii Business Registration Division (BREG)
  • Proof of Hawaii Tax Clearance with an official Department of Taxation Stamp
  • Documentation of an established Place of Business (No P.O. Boxes Allowed)
  • Proof of at Least (4) Years of Relevant Industry Experience

Chronological History of Projects Form

  • Social Security Number

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 1st of an even numbered year and September 30th of an odd-numbered year)
  • $50 application fee per person and a $494 licensing fee (if licensed between October 1st of an odd-numbered year and September 30th 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% or more before being granted license.

Idaho

Fortunately for those wondering how to get licensed in Idaho, the process is relatively simple.

Unlike some states with more complicated licensing processes, Idaho does not require applicants to have any previous experience, formal education or ability to pass an exam to qualify.

In fact, Idaho technically doesn’t require contractors to carry a license at all!

In lieu of a requiring a license, the state of Idaho simply requires contractors to register with the Bureau of Occupational Licenses Contractors Board.

After submitting an application for registration, a contractor will receive registration card that permits them to legally bid on jobs in Idaho.

While the majority of contractors in Idaho will only need a registration card to get to work, the state does require a few types of tradesman to be licensed.

Trades requiring a license to work in Idaho include:

To:

 

Idaho Contractor Licensing Board Address
  • HVAC
  • Plumbing
  • Public Works
  • Construction Management

These licenses are handled by the Idaho Division of Building Safety.

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

1.) Name and DBA (if applicable)

2.) Business Address

3.) Mailing Address

4.) Business Phone Number

5.) Business Email

6.) DOB & SSN of Owner/Principle Party

7.) Whether or not the applicant currently holds a current Public Works or Construction Manager license (If Yes, $35 Registration Fee Waived)

8.) Type of Construction performed:

(001) General Commercial Builder

(002) General Residential Builder

(003) General Remodel Builder

(004) Supplier

8.) Whether 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).

9.) Whether 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.).

10.) Whether 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:

-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 and mail it with:

  • All Applicable Supporting Documentation
  • Proof of Workers Compensation Coverage (businesses with employees only)
  • Proof of General Liability Coverage ($300,000 Single Event Min.)
  • $35.00 registration fee

To:

Idaho Contractor Licensing Board Address

Illinois

Fortunately for new contractors (other than roofers) looking to get to work as soon as possible, Illinois is another state that does not require a state license to operate.

While all businesses in Illinois (Contractors included) are required to register with the Illinois Secretary of State, Workers’ Compensation Commission, and Department of Revenue, the state leaves licensing laws up to each city and municipality.

Before you pack up your contracting business and head to Illinois, it’s important to note most cities and municipalities maintain their own sets of rules and regulations.

For a better understanding of 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 (5) classes, depending on the maximum project value a Contractor intends to bid.

Class A Contractor License

No project value limits.

Class B Contractor License

$10,000,000 project value limit.

Class C Contractor License

$5,000,000 project value limit.

Class D Contractor License

$2,000,000 project value limit.

Class E Contractor License 

$500,000 project value limit.

A large green boom lift owned by a roofing contractor in Texas extended over a residential construction project

Each contractor’s license class in Chicago carries a different licensing fee. The current schedule of fees is as follows:

Class A – $2,000

Class B – $1,000

Class C – $750

Class D – $500

Class E – $300

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

1.) Proof of General Liability Insurance (with City of Chicago Listed as Additional Insured)

2.) Written description of the work and services performed

3.) Documentation of business structure and other company information

4.) Affidavit certifying the applicant is financially stable

5.) License Classification Sought

After gathering all required information, applicants must sign and submit application with all applicable licensing fees to:

Chicago Contractors Licensing Board Mailing Address

Applications are typically reviewed and approved/rejected within 28 business days.

After getting approval, an applicant should expect to receive their license within 10 business days from the approval date.

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 this special type of license include:

  • Security System Technicians
  • 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 on the which license to get for your business, it may be wise to enlist the help of the Chicago Department of Buildings.

INDIANA

Indiana is another state in which contractors are not required to be licensed at the state level.

Like Illinois, the state government in Indiana leaves licensing rules and regulations to the city and municipal governments (except for plumbers).

That said, a General Contractor in Indiana is still required to register their business with the Indiana Secretary of State, as a prerequisite to applying for a license at the city or municipal level.

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.

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 documentation of a Tax ID (EIN) number, Sales and Use Permit (Seller’s Permit) and Unemployment Insurance Tax (along with other documentation in certain circumstances).

2.) Register with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development

This registration involves setting up payment of unemployment insurance taxes (only applicable in some situations).

3.) Show Proof of Workers Compensation Insurance to the Workers Compensation Board

Workers Compensation Insurance can be obtained through Tomins, or through the board.

IOWA

Keeping with the theme of States starting with the letter “I” not requiring a contractor’s license at the state level, Iowa is another location that does not require a state license.

Like Indiana and Illinois, the state of Iowa leaves licensing law up to city and municipal governments, with the exception of “construction contractors” and certain other specialized tradesman. The current state definition of “construction contractor” in Iowa includes contractors who do landscaping installation, painting, electrical work, plumbing and more.

A detailed list of the trades required to carry a construction contractor license and a full set of guidelines can be found on the State of Iowa Government Website.

While the requirements for each license vary based on trade and application, all contractor license applicants in Iowa must meet the following standards to qualify for a license:

 

1.) Have a current SSN

2.) Pass a Certification Exam

3.) 18 Years of Age or Older

4.) Carry Workers Compensation Insurance

5.) Carry General Liability Insurance (min. $500,000)

6.) Show Proof of Current Unemployment Insurance Number

7.) Submit a Copy of Criminal Conviction Records Related to Professional Practice

Applicants must submit everything to the Iowa Division of Labor, along with a $50 Registration fee, $50 License Fee, and $25 Paper Application fee (If mailing application) to:

Address for the Iowa Division of Labor Contractor Registration Dept

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

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

More information is available on the Iowa Workforce Development website.

KAnsas

Kansas represents yet another state that leaves licensing up to the local city, county, or municipal authorities.

At a state-level, contractors are simply required to register with the Kansas Secretary of State to operate legally. However, that’s not to say that getting a license in Kansas is easy.

In fact, depending on the area you plan to start your contracting business, Kansas can one of the more difficult places to do so.

As each city, county and municipality enforces a separate set of regulations governing the licensing process for contractors, 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:

If you need information about a Kansas city or county not mentioned above, Tomins is happy to help.

Give us a call today.

Kentucky

Kentucky is one of the more interesting states from a licensing policy perspective.

Rather than handle all licensing at the state or local level, Kentucky defines licensing procedures based on trade practiced. While Electrical, HVAC, and Plumbing contractors are licensed at a state level, all other trades in Kentucky are licensed by local authorities.

Regardless of trade, all contractors in Kentucky are required to meet certain business and tax requirements to operate.

At minimum, an applicant needs to provide a Tax ID, proof of general liability insurance, and proof of workers compensation coverage (in certain cases) to qualify.

Outside of the basic universal qualifications, Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC contractors will need to work with the Kentucky Department of Housing, Building, and Construction to get their license (all other trades will need to work with their local city, county, or municipal authority).

Some of the more popular places to get licensed in Kentucky include:

Regardless of whether you are required to carry a license at the state or local level, all contractors will still need to have a Kentucky Tax Identification number and registration on file with the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

All contractors in Kentucky are required to carry workers compensation coverage and General Liability Insurance.

Louisiana

Getting licensed in Louisiana requires applying with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors and showing proof of meeting the requirements for qualifying.

To qualify for a license in Louisiana, applicants must:

  • Submit Financial Statements & Other Documents
  • Show proof of General Liability Insurance 
  • Pass an Exam

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

Commercial License

Contractors and Subcontractors in Louisiana working on commercial projects over $50,000, in total project cost need this license to do so legally.

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 to operate:

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.

Mold Remediation License

Rather than require contractors specializing in mold removal to carry a Commercial Contractor’s license, Louisiana established this license class specifically to deal with mold remediation working on projects over $1 in value.

Home Improvement Contractor Registration

Residential contractors working on projects with a cost under $75,000 are not required to have a Residential License in Louisiana.

*Those working on projects in excess of $7,500 in cost, need to register with the State Board.

Interestingly, Louisiana is one of the only states that requires applicants to prove a minimum net worth to qualify for licensing. While this minimum is only set at $10,000, it can be an issue for businesses just getting their start.

All businesses in Louisiana are required to register with the Louisiana Secretary of State, in addition to applying for and maintaining a Louisiana Tax ID number with the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

Maine Contractors License

While there are a few specializations needing a license to operate legally, Maine does not require most general contractors to be licensed or registered on a state level.

Specializations requiring licensing from the state include:

 

If your specialization is not on the list above, you are free to work in Maine without applying for or maintaining a license.

That said, all businesses in Maine need to carry both General Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance, along with a Maine Tax ID to work legally.

Maryland

Of all the states in the country, Maryland ranks among the most complicated when it comes to getting licensed.

Getting a license in Maryland typically requires working with multiple licensing agencies, along with registering with the Maryland Department of Assets and Taxation to get authorization to run a business.

Outside of the requirement to register with the Department of Assets and Taxation, almost all contractor hopefuls in Maryland will need to apply with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR).

Most applicants will also need to apply with the Home Improvement Commission (MHIC) to work legally in Maryland.

In addition to the requirements set by the State of Maryland, many local and municipal governments maintain their own sets of rules on licensing. In most cases, contractors planning to bid on commercial projects need to be licensed at a local or municipal level to do so.

Before applying to the DLLR, a contractor will need to decide on the type of license they want to be granted. Maryland maintains 4 types of Contractors license classifications for GCs, each designed for a specific scope of work:

Home Improvement License

This is the most common contractor’s license carried in Maryland.

Even contractors looking to specialize in commercial projects should look into getting a state-issued home improvement license, as many city and municipal authorities require them as a pre-requisite to qualifying for a commercial license.

Master Electrical Contractors License

Any contractor planning to work on electrical jobs needs to apply for and carry a Maryland Master Electrical Contractors License.

Getting this license requires passing a specialized exam designed to test contractor knowledge on practical knowledge and awareness of current specifications, planning protocols, codes and laws.

Master or Journeyman Plumbing License

Like the Master Electrical Contractor’s License designation, this license is required for contractors working on plumbing projects. Plumbing licensees in Maryland are granted at two levels: Master Plumber and Journeyman.

While a master plumber licensee is permitted to bid on any plumbing job in Maryland, a Journeyman licensee is limited to bidding on jobs with a fully licensed Master plumber in a supervisory role.

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

Master, Master Restricted, Limited, or Journeyman HVACR License

Like the Plumbers Licensing structure, licenses for HVAC technicians in Maryland are split into four levels:

Master HCACR License

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

Master Restricted HVACR License

This license allows the licensee to legally work in (1) 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 (3) specializations before being required to carry a Master License to operate.

Limited HVACR License

Basically a watered-down version of the Master Restricted License, a Limited HVACR License allows a contractor to bid and work on jobs in one chosen specialization.

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 GC.

General contractor operating a large yellow backhoe in a dirt field

Massachusetts

Getting a license in Massachusetts is an involved process.

To qualify for applying, 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 documentation of a Massachusetts Tax ID. Interestingly, Massachusetts only requires a license to bid on jobs less than 35,000 ft3 in size.

In lieu of creating a special licensing class for jobs exceeding 35,000 ft3, Massachusetts instead requires these projects to be supervised by a registered engineer or architect, in addition to complying with any additional licensing requirements established on the city, municipal, or county level.

For projects under 35,000 ft3, Massachusetts maintains (4) classes of licenses, each designed for a specific scope of work:

Unrestricted Construction Supervisor License (CSL)

Holders of this license can legally supervise any project with walls up to 10 feet and a total square footage of less than 35,000 ft3. This license is designed for contractors working on two-family dwellings, agricultural buildings and single-family homes.

Restricted Construction Supervisor License (CSL)

Like the unrestricted construction supervisor license but limited to single and two-family dwellings under 35,000 ft3. Contractors intending to work on agricultural structures or other projects under 35,000 ft3 need to carry an unrestricted license to do so legally in Massachusetts.

Specialty Construction Supervisor License (CSL)

Specialty Construction Supervisor Licensees are treated like Unrestricted CSLs, albeit are only authorized to practice one specialty trade. 

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 (BBRS).

Home Improvement License

This license is intended for businesses specializing in home improvement (i.e. painters, wallpaper installers, and deck installers/repairmen) with no intention to practice new construction.

Those planning to work on new construction projects under 35,000 ft3 in size will also need to carry a CSL to do so legally in Massachusetts.

Additionally, home improvement professionals working in lead abatement, asbestos abatement, plumbing, or electrical trades will also need to carry additional licensing.

Regardless of which license a contractor is planning to carry, all license applicants need to meet the following pre-qualifications for applying:

  • 18 years of Age or Older
  • Massachusetts Tax ID Number
  • Passing Score on Prometrics Contractor Exam
  • Proof of General Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Documentation of at Least (3) Years of Qualifying Construction Work Experience

Licensing fees are determined based on the type of license required by the state.

While the licensing fee for all CSLs are set at $150 across the board, Home Improvement Contractors pay fees based on this sliding scale:

$150 Base Fee +

  • $100 (0-3 Employees)
  • $200 (4-10 Employees)
  • $300 (11-30 Employees)
  • $500 (Over 30 Employees)

The fee for the licensing exam required of all CSL applicants is $100.

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

Michigan

The steps involved with getting a license in Michigan depend on the scope of work and size of projects a contractor intends to focus on.

Contrary to the regulations maintained by many other states, Michigan only regulates non-commercial contractors at a state level, leaving commercial licensing up to local, county, and municipal authorities.

All construction businesses in Michigan are required to register with the Michigan Department of Treasury and get a Tax ID, regardless of the size of projects they intend to work on.

After registering with the Department of Treasury and obtaining a Tax ID, contractors with intentions of working on projects in excess of $600 in total value will need to obtain either a Residential Builders License or Maintenance and Alteration Contractors License to do so legally.

Qualifying for these licenses requires meeting the education and experience standards set by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, in addition to passing a licensing exam and paying relevant fees.

Residential Builders Licensees are authorized to work in demolition, improvement, replacement, alteration or repair work on any residential and certain commercial structures. Its important to note this license does not grant permission to do plumbing, electrical or mechanical work and a residential builder is required to subcontract these trades to stay compliant.

Maintenance and Alteration License holders are viewed similarly to Residential Builders with one important caveat: they are restricted to practicing only (1) trade.

Trades that qualify for a Michigan Maintenance and Alteration License include: 

  • Basement Waterproofing Contractors
  • Tile and Marble Installers
  • Swimming Pool Installers
  • Demolition Specialists
  • Insulation Installers
  • Concrete installers
  • Siding Installers
  • Masonry
  • Painters
  • Roofers

A full list of qualifying trades and licensing requirements is available on the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs website.

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 hopeful meets the prerequisites for qualifying, they will still need to submit a formal application and $195 licensing fee to get a license.

In most cases, this licensing fee can be waived for Military Veterans.

Because commercial licenses in Michigan are left to city, county and municipal authorities, license hopefuls in Michigan should reach out to their local governing authority for more information.

Minnesota

Aside from a select few exceptions, most in Minnesota are required to register with The Department of Labor and Industry as a prerequisite to performing residential or commercial construction work.

Beyond state registration requirements, most specialized trades outside of roofers do not need a license to perform work in Minnesota.

However, both roofing contractors and GCs performing multiple specialized trades are required to carry a license to operate legally.

Any individual or business in Minnesota working in two or more of the trades on this list needs to be licensed:

  • Exterior Finishing
  • Interior Finishing
  • Excavation
  • Carpentry
  • Masonry
  • Drywall

As aforementioned, all roofers must be licensed to operate in Minnesota. Other specialized trades required to carry a license in Minnesota include:

  • Plumbers Working in Cities w/ Populations Over 5,000
  • Asbestos and Lead Abatement Contractors
  • Electricians

Getting licensed in Minnesota involves passing a licensing exam, showing proof of a Contractor License Bond, General Liability insurance, and a Certificate of Compliance from the MDLI Workers’ Compensation Division

After getting these documents in order, applicants are required to submit an application, along with a $128 application fee, $120 licensing fee, $50 exam fee, and $8 board fee to:

Address for Minnesota contractors licensing board

Beyond the requirements specific to roofers and other specialists, Minnesota also maintains a set of rules that every business owner needs to follow.

All businesses in Minnesota also need to Register with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and apply for a state-issued Tax ID with The Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Mississippi

The licensing process in Mississippi depends on the type of construction and trade the applicant plans to focus on.

To clarify, the State of Mississippi maintains a separate licensing process for Commercial and Residential-focused 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

Required to work on any job with a total project value exceeding $50,000 (including labor).

Also required for any construction, reconstruction, and repair/maintenance of fire protection system on public projects with a total project value exceeding $5,000 or private projects with value exceeding $10,000.

Residential Contractor

Any Mississippi Contractor working on a residential project with a total project value in excess of $50,000 needs to carry a State Residential Contractors License to do so.

Residential Remodeling License

Required for residential contractors working on remodel jobs in excess of $10,000 in value.

Residential Roofing License

Required for Residential roofers working on roofing jobs in excess of $10,000 in value.

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

 

Much like the other states mentioned in this guide, Mississippi maintains a list of prerequisites for qualifying:

  • Watch an Instructional Video on the Application Process
  • Show Proof of Relevant Past Experience in Trade of Specialization (3 job min.)
  • Show Proof of Workers Compensation Insurance (if you hire 5 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 Tax ID number
  • Obtain and Submit a financial statement audited or reviewed a CPA within the last 12 months.
  • Show Proof of General Liability Insurance (Minimum $300,000/incident, $600,000 aggregate)

Before we move on to the next state, it’s important to note that the Mississippi State Board of Contractors maintains a reciprocity agreement with a handful of other states.

Those licensed to operate in Mississippi for three or more consecutive years are not required to pass the trade exam to obtain:

  • Alabama GC
  • Alabama GC
  • Alabama HVAC 
  • Arkansas GC
  • Georgia Residential Contractor
  • Georgia Commercial Contractor
  • Louisiana GC
  • North Carolina Electrical Contractor
  • South Carolina GC
  • Tennessee GC

All applicants are still required to take and pass the applicable law and business exams specified by each state (when applicable).

Ruins of an old concrete building being demolished by a demolition contractor with a special jackhammer crane

Missouri

Missouri is another state that leaves licensing to the local, county, and municipal authorities.

While all businesses in Missouri are required to register with the Secretary of State and maintain a Tax ID to operate legally, the rest of the process fully depends on where you live.

Using Kansas City as an example, applicants in KC must:

  • 21 Years Old or Older
  • Have a High School Diploma or GED
  • Show Proof of General Liability Insurance
  • Show Proof of Workers Compensation Insurance
  • Show Proof Relevant Experience in Trade of Specialization
  • 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 KC 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 GC or perform multiple specializations in KC are best off applying for a Residential Building Contractor License.

While some of the specialized licenses limit their holder to performing one trade, a Kansas City Residential Building License authorizes it’s holder to construct, alter, or enlarge any one- or two-family dwelling without trade-specific limitation.

In the interest of keeping this guide concise, we decided against listing the procedure for each city in Missouri.

At the end of the day, 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 of the more popular places to work in construction in Missouri, along with a link to information on how to get licensed:

As always, if you have any questions not answered in this guide or need help getting the General Liability or workers compensation coverage required to qualify, Tomins has you covered.

Montana

Compared to some of the other states in this guide, Montana is a pretty difficult place to work in construction.

After registering and applying through the Montana Department of Labor and Industry, license applicants must also:

As if that wasn’t enough, electricians and plumbers in Montana are required to carry a separate trade-specific license to operate legally.

Applicants in Montana also need to:

Those planning on working as an Independent Contractor or IC without employees, will also need to file an Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate to avoid being required to comply with Montana Workers Compensation regulations for GCs.

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

Address for Montana Contractors licensing board

The application fee for a GC is $70, and $125 for an IC. 

Nebraska

Working legally in the construction industry of Nebraska is an interesting process.

On one hand, it’s more simple than in most states as everything is processed through the Nebraska Department of Labor’s Online Contractor Registration Portal.

On the other hand, getting a license in Nebraska is an involved process with quite a bit of room for confusion. Rather than issue different licenses based on trade, project value, or scope of work, Nebraska classifies contractors based on the way they plan on handling their taxes–more on that later.

To start the licensing process 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
    • -Phone Number of Insurance Agent
    • -Name of Insurance Agent
  • Legally Registered Business Name (DBA)
  • Number of Employees Business Employs
  • Full Legal Name of License Applicant
  • Unemployment Insurance Number
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth

Applicants in Nebraska also need to list the full name and job title of each officer, member or subcontractor working with the business or as part of planned operations.

Now for the confusing part. All applicants in Nebraska are given the choice of how they want to be taxed:

1.) Collect and Remit Sales Tax from Customers on Building Materials

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

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.

2.) 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 it has not yet been collected by the seller).

While this is the simplest way to handle taxes in Nebraska, it carries the disadvantage of a slightly higher upfront material cost.

3.) Remit Tax as Materials are Used

Those opting for this way of being taxed are also able to 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. However, as soon as they are used on a job or “withdrawn from inventory to be annexed or used”, the business owner is required to remit the applicable tax to the Department of Revenue.

To be compliant on this option, you’ll 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 completion of projects.

As if working in Nebraska wasn’t complicated enough, the state also requires all contractors to apply for construction permits at the city and county level before starting a project.

While applications for these permits are available on the same online portal used for the rest of the process, it adds an extra layer of complexity to working as a contractor in Nebraska.

To apply for a building permit, you need to provide the following information:

  • Whether or Not Subs will be Involved in the Project
  • Address Where the Work Will be Completed
  • Total dollar Amount of the Awarded Bid
  • County in Which the Project is Located
  • Anticipated Project Start and End Date

After a building permit is approved, it is automatically posted to the business’s dashboard in the portal for easy access.

Nevada

The state of Nevada ranks among the more straightforward places to get authorized to work in the construction industry.

Nevada Contractor Licenses are issued at the state-level with (3) license classes established based on an applicant’s intended scope of work and trade(s) of specialization:

General Engineering License (Class A )

This is a specialized license designed specifically for engineer. Qualifying for a Class A General Engineering License in Nevada requires “special engineering knowledge and skill”.

General Building License (Class B)

This is the most common license in the State of Nevada. 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.

Specialty Contractors License (Class C)

This license class was created to regulate artisan contractors and specialty tradesman. Rather than grant permission for the wide scope of work defined in the Class B license permissions, a Class C Specialty License grants its holder permission to practice their trade of specialization throughout the state of Nevada.

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

  • Show proof of financial responsibility
  • Submit fingerprints for a background check
  • Acquire and show proof of a contractor bond
  • Take and pass a CMS and trade-specific exam
  • Register business with Nevada Secretary of State
  • Contribute Money to a Nevada Residential Recovery Fund (Residential Contractors Only)
  • Provide (4) reference certificates verifying min. (4) years of relevant work experience

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 to get their license.

All businesses in Nevada are required to maintain Workers Compensation Insurance.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is another state that does not require GCs to carry a state license to operate.

Instead of regulating the industry statewide, New Hampshire leaves the process up to the city, county, and municipal authorities.

That said, depending on the nature of your business, you may be required to maintain a state business license to operate legally.

It’s also important to note that a few specialized trades are required to carry licenses to work in this state:

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

Each of these specialty trades is licensed through their own respective state board. More information is available here.

Exposed wooden roof rafters on a residential construction site

New Jersey

New Jersey is one of the easiest states to start a construction business. In getting a license to work as a contractor in New Jersey, 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:

  • Submit signed disclosure statement listing all convictions of owners, officers, directors, partners, or principals that meet any of these qualifications:

-1st Degree Felony

-2nd or 3rd-Degree Felony in violation of Chapter 20 or 21 of Title 2C

-Any other crime in violation of J.S.A. Contractor Regulations

  • 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 non-refundable $110 application fee

Just because the process is very straight forward, doesn’t mean it’s not taken seriously. Unlike some other states, New Jersey requires every type of contractor to carry a license, regardless of size, trade, or scope of work.

According to the Contractors Registration Act, all contractors must register with the Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Jersey defines those who fall under this regulation as any individual or business organization that engages in one or more of the following practices:

  • Modernizing
  • Construction
  • Demolishing
  • Remodeling
  • Renovating
  • Installation
  • Restoring
  • Repairing
  • Painting
  • Altering
  • Moving

All business owners not covered by a Federal program in New Jersey are required to carry Workers Compensation Insurance.

Those who perform work without a license in New Jersey can be subject to civil and criminal policies

New Mexico

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

In fact, there are so many classifications available in New Mexico that the Regulation and Licensing Department doesn’t even maintain an active list. Rather, 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, along with anyone engaging in “construction-related contracting” in New Mexico are required by State Law to carry the appropriate license classification to do so legally.

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 take and pass a certification exam within 6 months.

After getting a Qualifying Party Certificate and passing the exam, an applicant also needs to submit a CID 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 & LLPs only)

All license holders in New Mexico are required by law to carry workers compensation insurance coverage, regardless of business size.

New York

The only industry professionals required to carry a license by the state of New York are crane operators and those working in asbestos abatement.

All other refulation is left to the city and county authorities.

While the requirements for getting a contractor’s license vary between cities and counties, the majority of construction businesses in New York end up carrying what’s known as a “home improvement license”. This license is essentially the same as the GC license issued by many other states, granting its holder permission to work on projects ranging from new construction to remodels, repairs and demolition.

Because the licensing procedure and regulations are different in each city and state, 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:

Regardless of the city or county in which a New York contractor intends to work in, state law 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 insurance coverage.

North Carolina

In North Carolina,licenses are issued at a state level by the NC Licensing Board

Interestingly, unlike some states which choose one or the other, all contractors in North Carolina are also required to register with and obtain a business license from the NC Secretary of State.

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

  • Named Qualifier
  • Passing Licensing Exam Score
  • Documentation of a Surety Bond
  • 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

-Allowed to work on projects up to $500,000 in total project value

-Required to maintain minimum working capital of $17,000, net worth of $80,000, or a $350,000 surety bond.

 

Intermediate License

-Allowed to work on projects up to $1,000,000 in total project value

-Required to maintain minimum working capital of $75,000 or a $1,000,000 surety bond.

 

Unlimited License

No project value limit

-Required to maintain minimum working capital of $150,000 or a $2,000,000 surety bond.

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

If your business is required to pay unemployment insurance taxes, you also need to register with the NC Industrial Commission.

North Dakota

Getting a contractor’s license in North Dakota is an easy process.

Not only does North Dakota not require an exam, they also maintain a very straightforward licensing process.

The state of North Dakota does not require a license to perform jobs under $4,000 in value. Assuming you plan on bidding on jobs in excess of $4,000 in value, the state maintains (4) available licenses classes for you to choose between:

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 in value. This license carries an initial fee of $300 and a renewal fee of $60.

Class C License

Holders of a Class C license in North Carolina are permitted to work on jobs up to $300,000 in value. Licensing fees are $225, with a $45 renewal cost.

Class D License

This license allows for work on projects up to $100,000 in value. The initial licensing fee for a Class D license is $100, with renewals priced at $30.

Plumbers, Electricians, Transient Merchants, and Asbestos Abatement Business Owners are required to carry separate licenses issued by their respective regulatory board.

While North Dakota repealed surety bond requirements in 1997, the state still requires contractors to carry General Liability 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 certain trades are required to maintain a state-issued license.

Trades required to carry a license in Ohio include:

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

All other licenses (including GCs) are regulated at the city, municipal, and county level.

Like other states that leave regulation to the local authorities, authorized to work in the Ohio construction industry involves a different process for each locale.

Here’s a list of some of the more 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.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma is another state in which GCs are not required to carry a license from the state to work.

Much like other states that leave contractor licensing to the city and local authorities, there are a few exceptions to the rule for certain trades.

Plumbers, mechanical contractors and electrical contractors are required to obtain a trade-specific state license and meet the standards of the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board to operate legally.

Unlike most states, Oklahoma also requires out of state contractors to register with multiple agencies, showing proof of insurance and tax registration before legally being allowed to perform work in the state.

Group of 3 contractors guiding a large piece of concrete to the ground at a commercial jobsite

If you work as a plumber, mechanical contractor or electrician in Oklahoma, you’ll need to work with the Construction Industry Board to get licensed. To qualify for licensing, applicants are required to show proof of relevant trade-specific experience, pass an exam, and provide documentation or Workers Compensation InsuranceGeneral Liability Coverage, and a Surety Bond.

Nonresident contractors are required to complete a Oklahoma Business Registration Packet for Nonresident Contractors, obtain an EIN, and post an Oklahoma nonresident contractor bond.

Like most states that choose to leave regulation to the local authorities, Oklahoma requires all businesses to register with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

All businesses in Oklahoma are required to carry workers compensation and general liability insurance.

Oregon

To work legally in Oregon, business owners must first meet certain educational requirements set out by the state.

Depending on trade practiced and endorsement desired, these requirements typically include:

In addition to the educational requirements outlined by the state, contractors in Oregon also need to have enough trade-specific experience to qualify for licensing.

Experience requirements depend on the endorsement class desired:

Residential Endorsements

Residential General Contractor (RGC)

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)

Can perform work involving one or two unrelated building trades for residential or small commercial projects.*

Residential Limited Contractor (RLC)

Designed for part-time contractors, hobby builders, or “maintenance” contractors.*

Residential Developer (RD)

For residential developers arranging for the construction of a structures or development of a property, for the purpose of selling it after completion.*

Home Services Contractor (HSC)

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

Residential Locksmith Services Contractor (RLSC)

An RLSC 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)

Designed businesses that measure and issue 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.*

*No previous experience required to qualify

Commercial Endorsements

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 8 years of construction experience to qualify for licensing)

**CGC2 contractor needs 4 years of construction experience to qualify for licensing)

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

These contractors perform work involving one or two unrelated building trades for small or large commercial projects. A Level 1 contractor must have 8 years of construction experience, while a Level 2 contractor must have 4.

*CSC1 contractor needs 8 years of construction experience to qualify for licensing

**CSC2 contractor needs 4 years of construction experience to qualify for licensing

Commercial Developer License

This classification is for commercial developers who arrange for the construction of structures, or the development of property, that they intend to sell.

*No previous experience required to qualify

Two large pieces of construction machinery moving dirt at a project site

Regardless of license classification, most construction industry professionals in Oregon are also required to complete at least 16 hours of law and business practice training, pass an exam, and register with the Oregon Secretary of State.

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

These include:

  • Gutter Cleaners
  • 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

All construction businesses in Oregon are required to obtain a surety bond between $10,000 and $75,000 (depending on classification) and show proof of General Liability Insurance to complete the licensing process.

Businesses with employees are also required to carry Workers Comp coverage.

All businesses in Oregon are also required to register with the Oregon Department of Revenue and the IRS.

Pennsylvania

Getting a PA contractor license is an interesting process.

While most of the process is left to the city, county, and municipal authorities, almost all GCs in Pennsylvania are also required to register with the PA Attorney GeneralAs regulations and requirements vary from place to place in PA, 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 Revenue, in addition to obtaining/maintaining a Sales and Use Tax Permit.

Rhode Island

Depending on intended trade of practice and scope of work, some GCs are not required to carry a license to operate.

According to the RI Contractors Board, most industry professionals in Rhode Island simply need to register in order to work legally.

That said, there are a few trades that the state does regulate.

Known as Underground Utility Contractors, anyone who “installs, repairs, alters, or replaces underground utilities, sewer lines, storm drainage lines, or water lines” is required to carry a state license to do so legally in RI.

Rhode Island Underground Utility Contractors are required to take and pass a competency exam before they can apply for a license.

Renewals are treated similarly with each instance requiring (5) hours of continued education as a prerequisite to applying.

Other trades that must carry a state license include: plumbers, electricians, and asbestos abatement businesses.

Most other tradesman are simply required to register with the state. While registering in Rhode Island does not involve formal licensing, registrants are required to complete (5) hours of pre-education courses to qualify. 

All businesses in Rhode Island are required to maintain a state-issued tax identification number and pay unemployment insurance tax.

Businesses with employees are required to show proof of Workers Compensation Insurance.

South Carolina

Getting the green light to work in the construction industry in South Carolina is a reasonably involved process that requires passing both a business law exam and a trade exam to qualify.

The State of SC defines a contractor as anyone who takes part in “the installation, replacement, or repair of a building, structure, highway, sewer, grading, asphalt, concrete paving, or other improvement to any type of real property.”

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

General & Mechanical Contractor

This license is required for those bidding on commercial, general, or mechanical work over $5000 in value.

Residential Home Builder

Required for those working on the construction, or supervision of construction, repair, improvement of one, two, or multi-family residences.

Manufactured Housing Contractor

Similar to the Residential Home Builder classification, albeit designed for those working on the installation and repair of manufactured homes.

Residential Specialty Contractor

This license authorizes independent work performing specialty trades such as plumbing, electrician, and HVAC.

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

Outside of the business law and trade exam requirements discussed above, applicants in South Carolina also need to register with the  Secretary of State and Department of Revenue.

All businesses in SC are also required to carry Workers Compensation Insurance.

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

South Dakota

South Dakota leaves construction industry regulation to the county, local, and municipal authorities.

Because each location maintains a different set of requirements for contractors, the best way to know what it will take to work legally in SD 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 Governor’s Office of Economic Development and maintain an Excise Tax Number from the South Dakota Department of Revenue.

Every business with employees in South Dakota is required to carry Workers Compensation Insurance.

Tennessee

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

For those looking to work in Tennessee, the state maintains a few different license classifications, each with their own application process.

Depending on the total project value a business owner hopes to bid on and the trade(s) they intend to practice, current Tennessee options include:

Home Improvement Contractor

This license authorizes its holder to perform repairs, additions, and improvements on residential projects between $3,000 and $24,999 in total value (with the exception of plumbing, HVAC or electrical work).

It’s important to note that some cities and counties require an additional local home improvement license to work legally as a residential contractor.

Some examples include:

  • Rutherford County
  • Robertson County
  • Haywood County
  • Davidson County
  • Hamilton County
  • Bradley County
  • Marion County
  • Shelby County
  • Murfreesboro
  • Chattanooga
  • Knox County
  • Brownsville
  • Springfield
  • Cleveland
  • Memphis
  • Knoxville
  • Nashville
  • Jasper

Depending on the total project value a contractor hopes to bid on and the trade(s) they intend to practice, the current Tennessee  options include:

Limited Licensed Electrical (LLE)

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

Prime (General) Contractor

This license is required for “project managers” or other parties who bid/contracting directly with the “owner” of a project in excess of $25,000 in total value.

Subcontractor

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

Consequentially, this license authorizes its holder to work on commercial projects in excess of $25,000, as long as the project is led/supervised by a licensed prime contractor.

Unlike the trade-specific limited licenses listed above, a subcontractor license allows the licensee to practice electrical, HVAC, and plumbing work without restriction.

Construction Management

A construction management license is required to work on projects with a total value of $25,000 or more. Unlike the Prime Contractor specification, this license is trade-specific, with applicants needing to specify their trade of focus to qualify.

Available Construction Management license categories include:.

  • Environmental
  • Mechanical
  • Specialties
  • Highways
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Masonry
  • Building
  • Roofing
  • HVAC
Closeup of a teal grinding tool sitting on a work bench at a construction site with a general contractor wearing an orange vest and white hardhat in the background

As if the Tennessee classification system wasn’t already complicated enough, the state also requires applicants to define the type of buildings they intend to work on and work they intend to do as part of the licensing process.

Available classifications include:

1.) BC

This classification authorizes a license holder to work 34 Tennessee building categories without restriction. From electrical and HVAC to drywall and roofing, a Tennessee BC classification opens the door to bidding on any project.

2.) Residential (BC-A) 

BC-A classification authorizes a license holder to perform work building, remodeling, repairing or improving any residential property in Tennessee. Interestingly, rather than classify buildings by actual intended use, the state defines any building under 3 stories tall as residential.

3.) Limited Residential (BC-A/r)

Like the BC-A Residential classification, the BC-A/r license allows a contractor to perform work building, remodeling, repairing or improving any residential property in Tennessee (on projects up to $125,000 in value).  

4.) Commercial (BC-B)

This classification is designed for contractors who build, alter, repair, or demolish buildings used by the general public. Like the BC classification, a BC-B classification has no restriction on trade(s) practiced or project cost.

5.) 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 $750,000.

6.) 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

All Tennessee contractors are required to take and pass the Tennessee Business and Law Exam as part of the qualification process.

After passing the exam and getting approved for licensing, business owners will need to register for a Tennessee Tax ID and show proof of Workers Compensation Insurance coverage before being authorized to work legally.

Texas

Texas is another state with a relatively straight forward regulatory system for construction industry professionals.

Outside of plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians, most Texas businesses can get authorized to work directly through their local authorities.

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

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

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 construction industry in Utah is regulated by the Utah Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

Those interested in getting a contractor’s license in Utah will need to pass a certification exam, register with the Commerce Division of Corporations and Commercial Code, and show proof of Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance coverage to qualify.

The State of Utah defines a “general building contractor” as 

“Qualified by education, training, experience, and knowledge to perform or superintend construction of structures for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or movable property of any kind…”*

*General building contractors do not include individuals who perform plumbing, electrical work, mechanical work, manufactured housing installation or any work related to the operating integrity of an elevator (unless the work is being performed on a single or multi-family residence up to (4) unites in size).

As of July 22nd, 2019, Utah maintains 25 classifications.

Depending on trade practiced, the scope of work performed, and a few other factors the licensing process can vary significantly from business to business.

Regardless of trade or scope of work, all business owners need to meet the following requirements to qualify for licensing in Utah: 

*As of May 14th, the state no longer requires a trade exam for General Building Contractors (B100), Residential Building Contractors (R100) or General Engineering Contractors (E100).

All applicants in Utah are still required to take the Utah Contractor Business and Law Exam.

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 – $70.00

Registration for Additional Owners (less than 8% ownership) – $20 Each

Businesses that hire employees in Utah are also required to show proof of Workers Compensation Insurance coverage, along with registering with and carrying unemployment insurance through the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Vermont

Vermont issues contractor’s licenses on the state level based on trade or specialty.

Most applicants will need to take multiple exams and meet some other requirements before qualifying for a license.  Because Vermont issues licenses based on trade, there is no GC License available from the state.

Consequentially, GCs in Vermont will need to get both a state-issued, trade specific license and local license or certification to operate legally.

Licenses for trades like plumbers and electricians are offered in (3) classes, each requiring a different level of qualifying experience:

Electrician Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is the best way to get qualifying experience as a new electrical contractor in Vermont.

After registering with the Vermont Department of Labor, new contractor hopefuls can work under a licensed master of their trade to earn a certificate and qualify for their own license.

Specialist Electrician

Focusing on one specific specialization in electrical contracting (i.e. appliance and motor repairs, this VT electrician license is the easiest to obtain for outside of an apprenticeship.

To qualify, an applicant needs to have a minimum of 2,000 hours of training from an accredited school within a year or 4,000 hours of experience within a two-year period. specialist electrician license can be obtained after you have had 2,000 hours of training in a year at an accredited school program or 4000 hours of experience in two years.

The cost for a VT Specialist Electrician License is $115 for a 3-year license, with a $10 certificate fee.

 

Journeyman Electrician

This 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 3-year VT Journeyman Electrician license costs $115, with an exam fee of $65 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 certification.

This license requires a signed affidavit from a previous employer verifying a minimum of 12,000 of electrical work to qualify.

The cost of a Master Electrician license in Vermont is $150 for a 3-year license, with a $10 certification fee.

 

Plumbing Apprenticeship

Like the Electrician Apprenticeship, a Plumbing Apprenticeship is the best way for a new plumber in VT to accrue enough qualifying experience for another license.

To enroll in the VT Plumbing Apprenticeship program, a license hopeful needs to register with the Vermont Department of Labor and work under a licensed master plumber. .to earn a certificate and qualify for their own license.

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 2-years at a cost of $90 with a $10 certification fee and a $64 exam fee.

 

Master Plumber

Applicants for this VT plumbers license need a minimum of 14,000 master plumber‘s license you will need to have a year of journeyman experience, or 14,000 hours of work experience.

Master Plumber license hopefuls are also required to take a certification exam (open book).

A 2-year Master Plumber license costs $120, with a $10 certification fee and $65 exam fee.

 

Specialist Plumber

Much like the specialist plumber certification listed above, 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.

To qualify for a specialist license, 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. Applicants hoping to work in water treatment also need to complete the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Watercourse Treatment program and pass and additional exam to qualify for licensing.

Most plumbing specialist licenses cost $50 for 2-years, with the exception of the Water Heater and Heating System Specialist certification ($130) and Water Treatment Specialist certification ($65).

A large yellow backhoe digging in a large dirt mound at a construction site in Utah

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, most cities, counties and municipalities in Vermont also require plumbers, electricians and elevator technicians to carry a local license.

Fortunately for electrical contractors who already have a license in Maine or New Hampshire and asbestos abatement contractors licensed in another state, Vermont has a reciprocity program in place that can exempt an applicant from needing to reapply.

While the licensing process for most trades follows a similar format, certain types of work like asbestos abatement, require additional certification. More information on this additional certification can be found here.

All Vermont businesses are required to pay unemployment insurance tax, along with maintaining a Tax ID number and a sales and use tax permit.

Businesses with employees are also required to maintain workers compensation insurance.

Virginia

The contracting industry in Virginia is regulated by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation.

All contractors and tradesman performing work on projects with a total value of $1,000 must be licensed by the DPOR to do so legally.

Virginia maintains (3) different contractor license classes, each designed for a different scope of work:

Class A 

This license authorizes its holder to perform work on projects between $120,000 and $750,000 in total value over a 12-month period.

Class A applicants need to have a minimum of 5 years of industry experience to qualify.

Class B

Designed for those who work on projects between $10,000 and $120,000 in total value (or less than $750,000 over a 12-month period), the Class B license is common among residential contractors.

To qualify for this license, an applicant must have at least 3 years of qualifying experience.

Class C

Intended for handyman and specialized tradesman working primarily on repairs and renovations, a Class C license authorizes its holder to perform work on projects valued between $1,000 and $10,000 in total value (or no more than $150,000 over a 12-month period).

*Specialty trades like plumbing, HVAC and electrical contracting require additional licensing.

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

1.) Business Entity Formation (licenses are not granted to individuals–LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, etc.)

2.) Legal Business Name (DBA) and Proof of Registration with the Virginia State Corporation Commission

3.) Business Mailing Address (P.O. Box allowed)

4.) Business Street Address (PO Box Not Allowed)

5.) Business Phone Number

6.) Business Email Address

7.) 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

8.) Name(s) of Qualified Individual(s) (at least (1) legitimate full-time employee or member of responsible management who meets the professional experience requirements for licensing)

9.) Name(s) of Designated Employee(s) & proof of passing score on trade exam (Class A & Class B only)

-Full name

-Date of birth

-SSN # or VA DMV Control #

-Exam pass date

10.) Documentation of completion of state-certified pre-license education course by designated employee

-Legal Name

-DOB

-SSN or VA DMV Control Number

-Exam pass date

-Name of course provider

-Copy of government-issued photo ID

11.) Applicable License Fee & Business Registration Fee

-Class A – $385.00

-Class B – $370.00

-Class C – $235.00

-Annual Business Registration – $50.00

12.) Disclosure statement if 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, taxes (also must disclose any defaults on bonds and pending/past bankruptcies).

13.) Acknowledgement that all Responsible Management members understand local licensing requirements (in all counties, cities, and towns in Virginia where work will be performed)

14.) Proof of Meeting Net Worth Requirements

-Class A – $45,000

-Class B – $15,000

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

Washington State

Getting licensed in Washington State requires deciding between the two available classifications (General or Specialty ) and registering with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

While the state technically does not require most industry professionals to carry a license (with the exception of a few specialized trades), the registration process in Washington is similar to the licensing processes of many other states.

As you may have guessed, first step in the registration process in Washington State is deciding on the type of work you intend to perform.

After deciding on a trade, businesses hoping to perform work in Washington also need to determine a business structure, register with the Washington Secretary of State, obtain a Federal Tax ID and secure bond insurance.

Turning our attention to classifications, the state of Washington maintains (2) options for registration:

General Contractor

For those hoping to supervise building projects with multiple contractors involved or those looking to practice multiple trades.

Specialty Contractor

This designation is intended for those who plan on practicing a single specialized trade (i.e. masonry)

It’s important to note that some specialty trades will need to register with the state (ex: electricians, plumbers, etc.)

Specialty trades required to carry a state license are also required to take and pass a certification exam.

Regardless of 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.

All businesses with employees in Washington State are required to carry workers compensation.

WEST Virginia

Getting authorized to work legally in West Virginia is no easy task.

Contractors looking to get licensed in this state will need to work with multiple agencies, take multiple exams, and pay multiple fees to qualify.

The West Virginia Department of Labor defines a General Building Contractor as:

It’s important to note that some specialty trades will need to register with the state (ex: electricians, plumbers, etc.)

Specialty trades required to carry a state license are also required to take and pass a certification exam.

Regardless of 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.

All businesses with employees in Washington State are required to carry workers compensation.

“A person whose principle business is in connection with any structures built, being build, or to be built for the support, shelter, and enclosure of persons, animals, chattels, or moveable property of any kind, requiring in the construction the use of more than two contractor classifications, or a person who supervises the whole or any part of the construction.”

In layman’s terms, anyone who practices multiple trades on a project or supervises/manages contractors practicing more than one specific trade on a project is considered a General Building Contractor in the eyes of West Virginia.

If this sounds like your business, you will need to get a contractor’s license to legally perform work in West Virginia.

To become a licensed General Building Contractor in WV, you’ll need to take the following steps:

1.) Notify the West Virginia Division of Labor of your intended scope of work and all specialty trades you intend to practice or supervise

2.) Pass the state-mandated certification exams for those trades (not all trades require passing an exam)

3.) Take and pass the state-mandated Business & Law Exam

4.) Register your business with the West Virginia Tax Department and obtain a WV Tax #

5.) Obtain and show proof of Workers Compensation Insurance and Unemployment Insurance (if you have employees or hire subcontractors)

6.) Complete and sign this application and affidavit.

7.) Submit application, proof of insurance, exam results, and all other requested documents with the applicable licensing and registration fees (application fee for general building contractors is $90)

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

Contractor operating large yellow backhoe, digging in a dirt mound with a large overpass in the distant background

Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin is a tough place to get authorized to work in the construction industry.

Not only do Wisconsin hopefuls need to get a license from the Department of Safety and Professional Services, they also need to get a Wisconsin Dwelling Contractor Qualification if they plan on working on residential projects.

The Wisconsin State Legislature defines a contractor as:

Any person who performs, furnishes, or procures any work, labor, service, materials, plans, or specifications, used or consumed for the improvement of land, and who complies with s. 779.02, shall have a lien therefor on all interests in the land belonging to its owners. The lien extends to all contiguous land of the owner, but if the improvement is located wholly on one or more platted lots belonging to the owner, the lien applies only to the lots on which the improvement is located.”

Interestingly, Wisconsin does not offer a universal GC license like many other states.

Instead, the state maintains a different licensing process for different trades and requires additional special certifications/credentials for the following specialty trades:

  • Asbestos and Lead Abatement
  • Well Drilling
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC

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.

Wisconsin Qualifiers are administered and Dwelling Contractor Licenses are both issued by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS).

To qualify for a Dwelling License, an applicant must:

  • Take a state-approved 12-hour initial qualifier course
  • Apply for and obtain a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification
  • Prove ownership, board seat or partner status in a contracting business
  • Show proof of Workers Compensation and Unemployment Compensation Insurance
  • Show proof of registration with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue
  • Show proof of Financial Responsibility (minimum $25,000 surety bond)
  • Show proof of General Liability Insurance coverage

The Dwelling Qualifier application fee is $15 for a 2-year license, with a $30 credential fee. Dwelling Contractor Licenses carry an application cost of $15 for 1-year, with a credential fee of $25

WYOMING

The State of Wyoming does not regulate its construction industry at a state level to operate legally (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 Insurance.

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