How To Get A Contractors License - Simple First Steps
How to Get a Contractor License
Getting a contractor license involves the completion of several steps that will allow you to legally accept and complete contracting work in your state. The application process for a contractor license includes examinations and supporting paperwork regarding legal residency, criminal background, and experience in the area of work for which you are applying for a license. You must also formally incorporate your contracting company, and purchase any required insurance or bonds in order to practice your trade.
Meeting Basic Requirements
Decide on your license class.In many areas, you must apply for a contractor’s license of a certain class. Usually, the class is determined by the monetary value of projects contractors will undertake. For example, Class C contractors might be limited to working on projects of ,000 or less, Class B contractors on projects up to 0,000, and Class A contractors may be able to work on projects of any value.
- Fees and insurance requirements may vary by contracting class.
- Working on projects outside of the limits of a contracting class is a violation of regulations. Disciplinary or legal action can result.
- Seek the contracting class that suits the types of project you want to do, as well as your company's financial and physical abilities.
Choose a specialty, if desired.In many locations, you may be classified either as a “general contractor” or a “specialty contractor."General contractors, as the name implies, oversee many aspects of a project, while specialty contractors focus on a specific area. Common specialties include:
- Awnings, coverings, and screens
- Boiler, steam, and process piping
- Cabinetry and finish carpentry
- Fire protection
- Glass and glazing
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R)
Name and register your company.If you want to practice as a contractor, you will need to officially register a company with your state and/or local authorities. Your contractor’s license will then certify that this company can operate. You must first determine that your intended company name is not already taken.Many states will have a name availability form you can fill out, or an online database you can check to see if a company name is not yet taken.
- You also need to decide on your contracting business’ structure (sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation, etc.).
- If you plan on hiring employees other than yourself, you should also request an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.
- Make sure to pay any fees that are required to register your business and/or its name.
- In some states, you must also designate people to serve as your contracting business’ management and qualified individuals (those with the appropriate training/experience in the contracting field).These may or may not be the same people, depending on how your business is structured.
Pass the contractor’s examination.Each state will have a required examination or set of examinations that contractors must pass in order to legally practice. These exams might be composed of multiple topics, some dealing with business aspects and others with technical and trade practices.
- Contact the International Code Council (ICC) for information about contracting examinations that are applicable in your area.
Purchase insurance and a bond, if required.In many locales, you must purchase special insurance in order to practice as a contractor. Since contracting work is often dangerous and involves large amounts of money, this insurance protects you against liabilities and covers any losses. In addition to or instead of insurance, you may be required to purchase a surety bond. This is essentially protection against loss in case you are unable to finish a project or complete it satisfactorily.
- The amount of insurance or bond that you must purchase will vary depending on your location and the type of projects you will do. However, expect it to be substantial.
- You will need to show proof that you have purchased the insurance or bond in order to receive your contractor’s license.
Pass a background check.In many states, you must pass a criminal background check before you can receive your contractor’s license.Complete the background check according to the instructions provided by your state. Make sure to keep a copy of the certificate showing you have passed the background check—you will need this later when submitting your license application.
Submitting Your Application
Fill out the application and gather required documents.Once you have all of the preliminary steps taken care of, you will need to complete the formal application for your contractor’s license. The exact application form and instructions will vary depending on your location. Contact your local planning and development board, registrar of contractors, or other relevant agency about where to find the application form and instructions. Common information and documents included with contracting license applications include:
- Your company’s name, EIN, and address
- Your contracting class and specialty, if applicable
- Copies of your company’s incorporation papers
- A summary of your education, training, and experience
- Proof of your insurance and/or bond
- Certification from the ICC or other approved agency that you have passed any required contracting examinations
- Copies of personal identification
- A statement of citizenship
- Information about any prior contracting licenses you have had (including in another state)
- Proof that you have passed a background check
Submit the application and pay any required fees.When your application is filled out and you have included all documents, you are ready to submit it to the relevant agency. Deliver the application (by mail, online, in person, by fax, etc.) according to the instructions provided on the application form or by the relevant agency.
- Make sure to include any required fees with your application.
- Make sure to get your application notarized, if required, before submitting it.
Wait for your application to be approved.Most likely, there will be a small waiting period before your application is approved or rejected. Ask the relevant agency if there is a confirmation number or letter you should expect to receive once you submit your application, and how you will receive notice that your application has been approved or rejected.
Get a license for each state you want to operate in.Each state has its own regulations for contracting. You must be approved for each state you want to work in, even if you already have a contracting license that is valid in another state. In some cases, you may be able to get a special temporary license (which may have a lower fee or streamlined application process) if you do already have a license that is valid in another state.
- Note that contractors must follow any local or municipal contracting regulations in addition to ones enforced by the state.
QuestionCan a felon get a contractor license?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerEvery state has different regulations regarding felons. In most states, you have to disclose prior convictions. It would be hard for recent violent offenders or burglary to get approved for a contractors license. Check your states contractors board for more clarification.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the minimum amount of work experience required to meet these requirements?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on the State. Many states, like Texas, do not require general contractors to be licensed. California requires years of experience and passing a written test . Look up requirements in the state you want to do business.Thanks!
QuestionCan I work under someone else's GC License? If so, how would this be done?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf I remember correctly you can use a contractor's license say if you're sub contracted and pay a percentage of what you make.Thanks!
QuestionIf I'm going to build a small house and then sell it, do I need a contractors license in the state of Tennessee?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerMost likely, but you will have to do some research on your state's specific requirements.Thanks!
QuestionI am an immigrant and have stayed here in California for almost 4 years. Since I am not yet a US citizen, can I apply and be approved as a "class C" contractor?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI believe you don't have to be a citizen, but you must be here legally. Employment authorization is the best way of getting your SSN and then a driver's license and then with all 3 of them you will be all set. Remember, this country gives opportunities to who file taxes here, regardless of birth country. Make money here, pay taxes here. But contact your local planning and development board for specific requirements.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need a contractor's license to perform work on my own property in Woodward Oklahoma?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you don't. Since you are liable for your own work. However, your might need a permit for any home improvements that will increase how houses value.Thanks!
I would like to get a general contractors license in lake county Indiana what do I need to do
I live in Vancouver, Canada. Is it similar in here as well?
How do I get a contractor license and will I be able to work in one state under the license of another?
I want to get my general contractor's license in Arkansas. Are there classes in the state that I can take?
Do you have any link for websites as to how to begin registration or application process for Houston, TX?
- Typically, contracting licenses must be periodically renewed, although the renewal application process may be easier. Check with the agency that approves contractors in your area for information about renewing your license.
Video: How To Get Your CA Contractors License for 2018
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