General Contractor License Requirements By State

General Contractor License

Working as a general contractor can be a rewarding career for those looking to be their own boss, but it also comes with several risks, which is why many states require you to meet certain criteria before working. This might include obtaining licenses and/or registering with the appropriate authorities as well as taking steps to protect your business with the right contractor insurance.

In many cases, Workers’ Compensation coverage is required if you have employees, or, if you have subcontractors who your state would classify as employees. In some cases, even if you employ independent contractors you could still be required to carry Workers’ Comp coverage. Many states also require General Liability Insurance and/or a Surety Bond to protect both contractors and consumers.




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The distinction between licensing and registration requirements can be confusing — but it’s a lot like the license and registration requirements you need to have for your car or your work truck.

The licensing process usually requires passing a test to ensure a minimum level of competency while the registration process is simply a listing in a state registry. Keep in mind, it’s also common for states to require proof of relevant work experience or financial records.

It should go without saying that making sure you comply with your state’s standards is critical to the future success of your business. Not doing so could land you in hot water with the authorities. Keep in mind, if you work in multiple states you may need to meet different work requirements.

Keep reading to learn more about the state-by-state requirements to obtain a general contractor license.

General Contractor License requirements by state

Alabama

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

It is a requirement for General Contractors in Alabama to obtain a state license for maintenance, repair, demolition, construction, or alteration projects that exceed $50,000 for commercial projects. For residential projects, you need a license if the costs exceed $10,000. In addition:

  • Licensing candidates must pass business, trade, and law exams.
  • Proof of industry experience and net worth upon application.
  • Proof of General Liability insurance.

Alaska

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

There are three kinds of licenses awarded by the state of Alaska:

  • General Contractor with Residential Contractor Endorsement: The contractor manages new home construction or undertakes residential projects higher than 25% of the value of the structure.
  • General Contractor without Residential Contractor Endorsement: The general contractor may undertake work worth less than 25% of what the structure is valued at both for commercial or residential work. No exam needed to be passed for this license.
  • General Contractor Handyman: The contractor should be qualified to perform residential or commercial work that is assessed at less than $10,000.

Furthermore, license applicants need to take a 16-hour cold climate course, pass an exam, and must obtain General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance.

Arizona

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

All general contractors must have a general contractor license.Arizona awards several classifications of licenses, such as:

  • General Commercial Contractors
  • General Residential Contractors
  • General Dual License Contracting: A combination of residential and commercial contracting

To get any of the licenses mentioned above, you need to pass trade, business, and management exams, provide proof of at least four years of professional experience, and be covered with a Surety Bond.

Arkansas

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors working in the state of Arkansas are required to have a contractor license issued by the state if the project exceeds $2,000. There are several classifications issued by the Contractors Licensing Board:

  • Commercial License: Projects which are worth more than $50,000
  • Restricted Commercial License: Commercial projects up to $750,000
  • Residential Builders License: Single-family residences worth more than $2,500
  • Residential Remodeler Limited License: Home improvement work worth less than $50,000 per project
  • Residential Remodeler Unlimited License: No restrictions on size or cost

Furthermore, proof of relevant work experience is needed:

  • Commercial contractors: 5 years minimum
  • Residential builders: 4 years minimum
  • Residential remodelers: 2 years minimum

Additionally, licensing applicants must provide financial statements, pass trade, business and law exams, and provide proof of Workers Compensation coverage and proof of Surety Bond.

California

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors in the state of California are required to obtain a license for projects worth more than $500 from the California Contractors State License Board. You’ll need:

Colorado

State license: No ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General contractors are not required to obtain a license to work in Colorado, but there may be local registration or licensing requirements.

Connecticut

State license: No ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General Contractors do not need a license to work in the state. However, if you work on home improvement projects, you are considered as a home improvement contractor (HIC) and will need to register with the state’s Department of Consumer Protection.

Delaware

State license: No ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General contractors do not need a license to work in the state; however, you might need to register your business at a local level.

Florida

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

There are several classifications of licenses within Florida, including:

  • General Contractor: At least 1 year of experience in construction work on buildings less than 4 stories high
  • Building Contractor: Limited to the construction, remodeling, repair, or improvement of residential or commercial buildings that do not exceed 3 stories in height.
  • Residential Contractor: Limited to work on residences that do not exceed 2 stories in height.

To obtain any of these licenses, applicants also need:

  • To pass trade, business, and law exams.
  • At least 4 years of proof of relevant work experience. If the applicant does not have enough experience, it is possible to show a combination of experience and education.
  • To provide a financial statement as well as proof of General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance.

Georgia

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

To obtain a license in the state of Georgia:

  • Must be at least 21 years old
  • Have a 4-year degree in a relevant field, or, a combination of relevant work experience and education.
  • Must show financial statements and proof of insurance
  • Pass trade, business, and law exams.

Hawaii

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

If you plan on doing residential, commercial, or public works projects amounting to $1,000 or more, or projects that require a building permit you need to obtain a license. Here are some requirements you need to:

  • Show proof of insurance, including Workers Comp if you have employees
  • Pass business, law, and trade exams.

Idaho

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

There is no state licensing requirement in Idaho, but if you plan on doing work worth more than $2,000, you must be registered in the state via the Idaho Contractors Board.

Illinois

State license: No ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

A general contractor can work in Illinois without the need for a state license. However, there may be licensing requirements present in the local or county level, so be sure to check your local government before you start accepting contracts.

Indiana

State license: Check with City and County Government ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

You’re not required to carry a state license, however, there may be license and registration requirements at the local level.

Iowa

State license: No ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General Contractors can work in Iowa without a license, however, any general contractor who earns at least $2,000 annually is required to register with the state’s Division of Labor.

Kansas

State license: Check with City and County Government ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

A state license is not required for general contractors, but local municipalities may have licensing requirements. Make sure you check with authorities in your local jurisdiction before you start work.

Kentucky

State license: Check with City and County Government ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

While no state license is required, you should check with the appropriate authorities at the local level.

Louisiana

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors are required to have a license to work in Louisiana. The state awards two different types to consider:

Residential License:

This license is meant for general contractors in construction and home remodeling projects that are worth more than $75,000. In order to obtain this license you’ll need to:

Commercial License:

This license covers commercial projects costing more than $50,000. In order to obtain this license you need to:

  • Submit financial statements
  • Pass trade, business and law exams

Maine

State license: Check with City and County Government ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General Contractors don't need to have a license to work in the state of Maine, but if you accept home improvement or home construction projects worth more than $3,000, you need a written contract. There may be licensing requirements at the city or county level so make sure to check before you start working.

Maryland

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

In Maryland, license applications are approved by the Home Improvement Commission. You’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Proof of at least 2 years of experience in construction, home improvement, or related industry
  • Financial statements
  • Present proof of insurance, including General Liability and Workers Compensation
  • Pass trade, business, and law exams.

Massachusetts

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

You’ll need a license from the state if you plan to work as a contractor in Massachusetts. Some requirements you need to meet include:

  • Proof of Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) registration to perform basic general contractor tasks on existing properties.
  • For bigger projects on pending properties, you need to hold a Construction Supervisor License.
  • Show at least three years of experience in construction and design
  • Pass an exam.

Contractors who work exclusively on new homes or on commercial buildings are exempt from getting a license.

Michigan

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General contractors in Michigan need to obtain a Residential Builders License or a Maintenance & Alterations Contractors License in order to work on projects that include repair, construction, alterations, or upgrades residential buildings or mixed-use buildings.

You need to meet the following requirements:

  • Take a 60-hour licensure course, and pass an exam.

Commercial contractors, on the other hand, should contact local county construction offices for licenses and permits.

Minnesota

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General contractors in the state of Minnesota need to be licensed and registered with the state. Residential contractors or remodelers, however, need to obtain a license but don’t need to be registered at a state level.

In order to obtain a license you are required to:






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Mississippi

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Whether you are a residential or commercial contractor, if your projects exceed $50,000 you are required by the state to hold a license. You also need to:

Missouri

State license: Check with City and County Government ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General Contractors aren’t required to hold a license, but there may be a requirement at the city or county level. Check with local authorities before accepting contracts.

Montana

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Licensing is not required in Montana, but if you have employees, you are required to register at the Department of Labor and Industry and provide proof of Workers Compensation insurance.

Nebraska

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors don’t need a state license to work in the state of Nebraska, however, if you do any construction, alteration, renovations, installations, additions, or repairs, you are required to register with the state’s Department of Labor.

Nevada

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Any business or individual who constructs or alters any building, road, highway, parking facility, railroad, or any other structure is required to maintain a state license.

In order to obtain a license you are required to:

  • Show proof of insurance
  • Show proof of a Surety Bond
  • Provide financial statements
  • Show proof of 4 years of work experience within the last 10 years in a related field.
  • Pass trade, business, and law exams

New Hampshire

State license: No ; Registration: No

There are no licensing requirements for general contractors in the state. Check your local jurisdiction for any additional requirements.

New Jersey

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

You are not required to obtain a license by the state, but, if you work on building, improving, or repairing homes you need to register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

New Mexico

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General contractors are required by the state to get a license. There are several classifications of licenses awarded by the New Mexico Department of Regulation and Licensing. Make sure to apply for the one that best suits your occupation. In most cases, in order to obtain your license you will be required to:

  • Present proof of at least 4 years of experience. You can substitute 2 years of education for work experience
  • Pass law, trade, and business exams
  • Show proof of insurance

New York

State license: Check with City and County Government ; Registration: Check with City and County Government

General Contractors aren't required to hold a state license in the state of New York, but there may be local governments with their own licensing requirements. Be sure of what they are before you start working.

North Carolina

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors are required to have a state license to work if the projects exceed $30,000 in worth. There are many classifications of licenses such as:

  • Building contractors
  • Residential contractors
  • Highway contractors
  • Public utility contractors
  • Special contractors

These classifications are further divided into limited and unlimited sections and these depend on the scope of the work that you plan to do:

  • Limited: projects worth less than $500,000
  • Intermediate: projects worth less than $1,000,000
  • Unlimited

Keep in mind, no matter what license you apply for you will need to pass trade, license, and board exams.

North Dakota

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

All contractors are required to obtain a state license if the project exceeds $4,000. There are four classes of licenses depending on the value of the project:

  • Class A: project exceeds $500,000
  • Class B: project is less than $500,000
  • Class C: project is less than $300,000
  • Class D: project is less than $100,000

In addition, no matter what license you apply for, you need to show proof of insurance.

Ohio

State license: Check with city and county government ; Registration: Check with city and county government

In Ohio, licensing and registration is done at the local level, so make sure you check with the city or county where you are planning to work as a contractor.

Oklahoma

State license: Check with city and county government ; Registration: Check with city and county government

General Contractors do not need to be licensed or registered at a state level to work in Oklahoma. However, you should check your local government’s licensing and registration requirements before you start any project.

Oregon

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

The state of Oregon defines contractors as people who are paid to do construction work that involves the improvement of real property.

You can apply for a commercial license, residential license, or a commercial and residential (dual) license. In order to apply in any of these categories you will be required to:

  • Show proof of insurance
  • Take a pre-license training class and pass the test.
  • If the project exceeds $100,000, you will have to file for a Public Works Bond of $30,000 with the Construction Contractors Board (CCB). The bond needs to be filed before work starts.

Pennsylvania

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors do not need to be licensed at a state level, but if the value of your annual home improvement projects exceeds $5,000 you'll need to register with the state’s Attorney General's Office.

The requirements depend on the city you operate in. Check the requirements of your local government before you start working.

Rhode Island

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Getting a license in Rhode Island is not required, but you do need to go through a registration process. Every contractor and subcontractor involved in commercial construction, home construction, remodeling, or repairs must register with the Registration and Licensing Board. In order to complete your registration, you will need to:

South Carolina

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

A state license is required if you are working on projects worth more than $5,000. The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation issues 2 main types of licenses depending on the type of work you want to perform:

  • General Contractors License.
  • Mechanical Contractors License.

In order to apply for your license you are required to:

  • Present an audited financial statement, or you can also submit a Surety Bond instead.
  • Show proof of at least 2 years of experience in a related field within the last 5 years.
  • Pass trade, business, and law exams.

South Dakota

State license: Check with city and county government ; Registration: Check with city and county government

You don’t need to be licensed at the state level, but local governments may have licensing requirements.

Tennessee

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

You are required to hold a license before negotiating or bidding for projects amounting to more than $25,000. This applies to any contractor who performs installation, construction, or repair of buildings, highways, land, public utilities, etc.

  • Show proof of at least 3 years of relevant work experience
  • Audited financial statements
  • Pass business, trade, and law exams

Texas

State license: Check with city and county government ; Registration: Check with city and county government

Texas does not require general contractors to obtain a license. However, there may be licensing requirements at the local level, so do check with your city or county before you start accepting contracts. Keep in mind, if you contracting work involves plumbing, electrical, or HVAC work you’ll need a state license.

Utah

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

A license is required if you do any general contracting work exceeding $3,000. The General Building Contractor License (B-100 license) is issued by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. You’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • Show proof of insurance
  • Provide financial statements
  • At least 2 years relevant work experience within the last 10 years
  • Pass business, trade, and law exams

Vermont

State license: Check with city and county government ; Registration: Check with city and county government

While you don’t need a state license you should always check with local authorities to make sure you’re meeting their requirements.

Virginia

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors are required to obtain a license awarded by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulations. There are 3 classes of license you can choose from depending on the scope of work you plan to do:

  • Class A: Individual projects ranging from $10,000 to $150,000 annually. A minimum of 2 years of experience is required.
  • Class B: Individual projects ranging from $120,000 to $750,000 a year. A minimum of 3 years of experience is required.
  • Class C/Unlimited: A minimum of 5 years of experience is required, and you'll need to complete a pre-license education class approved by the Board of Contractors and pass the exams.

Washington

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

While there aren’t any state licensing requirements in Washington, you’ll need to enroll with the Washington State Department of Labor. To register you’ll need:

  • Show proof of a Surety Bond of at least $12,000
  • Show proof of insurance
  • Pass board, trade, and business exams

West Virginia

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

All general contractors are required to obtain a state license if the project exceeds $2,500. There are several license classifications you can apply for depending on the work you do.

You'll be required to:

  • Submit proof of insurance or proof of a wage bond
  • Pass business and law exams

Wisconsin

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

General Contractors are required to have a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license if the project exceeds $1,000. This can be for construction, home alteration, home improvements, commercial projects, and public projects. Some requirements you’ll need to meet include:

  • Completing a 12-hour class approved by the board and pass the exam
  • Show proof of insurance

Wyoming

State license: Check with city and county government ; Registration: Check with city and county government

General Contractors are not required to have a state license to work, however, licensing may be done at a city or county level, so make sure you check the requirements of your local jurisdiction before accepting projects.




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