Painter License and Registration Requirements

Painter License and Registration Requirements by State

Painter license and requirements per state

Starting your own professional painting business can be lucrative and rewarding, but it's anything but easy. For painters, there are a lot of risks involved in working in the industry. For example, you could spill hazardous materials, a client could slip and fall on your property, your company vehicle could be involved in a traffic accident, or you could damage a customer’s property.

It’s important to make sure you have everything in order so you can get your business off the ground as smoothly as possible, including making sure you have the correct licenses.

A painting license, which is required in over 20 states, can include passing state exams, proving your work experience, or providing a financial statement that demonstrates your fiscal stability.

Registration, on the other hand, can be less rigorous and may only involve providing some basic information for a state database. Keep in mind you’ll likely have to pay a fee to register your painting business.

Because you face a lot of liability, it’s important to make sure you’re covered with the right insurance for painters. Depending on the state you operate in, there may be as many as three types of insurance products required, such as:

  • Surety Bonds: Some states require this for jobs that exceed a certain dollar value.

  • General Liability insurance: This policy protects your painting business against claims of third-party bodily injury and property damage.

  • Workers Compensation: As a general rule, this is required in most states if you have employees or use 1099 workers who your state might classify as employees.

Below is a state by state breakdown of the requirements you need to start your painting business.

Alabama

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Alabama painting contractors are required to obtain a license only if the project exceeds $50,000. Below are more of the requirements for painters to get a license:

  • License applicants are required by the state to pass law and business exams
  • You are required to have at least three years of experience.

Alaska

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

The State of Alaska requires painting contractors to obtain a license. The state has three types of contractor licenses:

  • Specialty Contractors - those who work on commercial and residential structures but with limits.
  • General Contractors - those who work on commercial buildings not including residential buildings.
  • General Contractor with residential endorsement - those who work on unlimited commercial and residential buildings.

Note that only residential endorsements have a prerequisite in order to obtain a license, which is usually holding General Liability Insurance and/or Workers’ Compensation.

To take on projects in Alaska you’re also required to have a Surety Bond with a minimum bond amount. The requirements are as follows:

  • General Contractor - $25,000
  • General Contractor with Residential Endorsement performing exclusively residential work - $20,000
  • Handyman with a cap of $10,000 per project - $5,000
  • Specialty or mechanical contractor - $10,000

Arizona

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Any painting contractor working on a project worth more than $5,000 will be required to get a license. The Arizona Registrar of Contractors issues 2 different types of licenses for painters:

  • Residential painting license
  • Commercial painting license

In order to apply for the license, you will be required to:

  • Present proof of a Surety Bond
  • Pass business and trade exams
  • Show proof of experience working under a state licensed contractor:
    • 1 year of experience for a residential license
    • 2 years of experience for a commercial license

Arkansas

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Any contractor project that exceeds $2,000 will require a license by the state. Requirements include:

Subcontractors working with a licensed contractor do not need to own a license. However, if the contractor is not licensed, then subcontractors are required to own a license.

California

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

A painting contractor who works on a project that costs more than $500 has to be licensed by the state. However, in order to qualify for the license, you will be required to:

Show proof of at least 4 years of experience within the last 10 years as a journeyman, supervisor, foreman, or contractor in the location you are applying for

Colorado

State license: No ; Registration: Check at city, county or local level

No painter’s license is necessary if you want to work as a painter contractor in Colorado. However, there are licensing requirements at the city or county level. Proof of General Liability insurance is generally mandated when local municipalities require licenses.

Connecticut

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

As soon as you accept contracts worth more than $200 per project (or totaling $1,000 per year), you’ll be required to register with the Department of Consumer Protection. You’ll have to register as either a minor or a major contractor. A minor contractor is licensed to work on private homes and small family units, while a major contractor is licensed to work in institutional residences like hotels, care homes, or other large sites.

Delaware

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Any contractor working on a project for the purpose of revenue has to get a license from the Delaware Division of Revenue. Before applying for your license, you will be required to pass an exam.

In addition, a Surety Bond with a bond of 6% of the contract's value is needed if the total value of your projects per year is higher than $20,000. If you have employees, you’ll also need to have Workers’ Compensation as well.

Florida

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

The state of Florida has two types of licenses: registered and certified. A registered contractor is licensed to work at a local level. A certified contractor can work anywhere in the state. A painting contractor should have at least 4 years of working experience and must have passed the state certification exam.

Painters in Florida have to apply for a general contractor license issued by the Construction Licensing Board. In order to obtain that license you may be required to:

  • Show proof of at least 4 years of experience
  • Pass a state certification exam
  • Show proof of Workers Compensation (if you have employees)

Note that in some counties additional licenses may be required for painters, so make sure you look into this before accepting any painting project.

Georgia

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters are exempt from getting a state license in Georgia. However, some cities and counties might have their own specialty license requirements. Make sure to check with your local government office before you start working.

Hawaii

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painting contractors in Hawaii need to obtain a license form the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs if they want to work on a project worth more than $2,500. In order to obtain your license, you will be required to:

Idaho

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

The state of Idaho does not require a license for painting contractors, however, you do need to register with the state if you want to work on projects that exceed $2,000.

You will also need to provide proof of Workers Compensation if you have employees, as well as General Liability insurance coverage of at least $300,000 per occurrence.

Illinois

State license: No ; Registration: No

There are no registration or licensing requirements as a painting contractor in the state of Illinois, but make sure to check with local municipalities regarding any specific working requirements they have.

Indiana

State license: No ; Registration: No

Painters are not required to get a license or register with the state in Indiana. However, some cities or counties have their own licensing and registration requirements, so be sure to check local requirements before you start working.

Iowa

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

You do not have to acquire a state license in Iowa in order to work as a painter. However, if the total value of your projects in a year exceeds $2,000 you’ll be required to register with the Iowa Division of Labor.

Keep in mind that you might need a license at a local level, so make sure you check with your city or county’s requirements before you start working.



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Kansas

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Only painters dealing with lead paint will need a license from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment. Otherwise, you might be required to register and get a license at a local level, so make sure to check with your city or county’s requirements before you start working.

Kentucky

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters do not need a license or registration at the state level, however, you might be required to register and get a license at a local level, so make sure to check with your city or county’s requirements before you start working.

Louisiana

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters in the state of Louisiana fall under the “Building Construction” classification. They will need to apply for the corresponding license with the State Licensing Board for Contractors. The board issues 4 different types of licenses:

  • Commercial license
  • Residential License
  • Mold Remediation License
  • Home Improvement Registration

In order to apply for any type of license, painters will need to:

  • Provide information about your work experience
  • Provide a financial statement for the last 12 months signed by a certified public accountant
  • Pass a business and law exam
  • Provide proof of General Liability insurance
  • Provide proof of Workers Compensation insurance (if you have employees)

Maine

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters only need to be certified by the state when dealing with lead-based paint. Otherwise, licensing is done at the city or county level, so make sure to check local requirements before starting work. Generally, Workers Compensation insurance is also required if you have employees.

Maryland

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Any contractor accepting home improvement projects, including painting, requires a state license. In order to apply for the license, you will be required to:

  • Pass the MHIC exam
  • Show proof of at least 2 years of work experience
  • Show proof of financial information like the scope of the business, assets, liabilities, net worth, and a full credit report. If you cannot provide this, you will be required to purchase a Surety Bond
  • Show proof of General Liability insurance covering at least $50,000
  • Show proof of Workers Compensation insurance if you have employees

Massachusetts

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

If you are going to work solely on painting projects, you are not required to be licensed in the state of Massachusetts. You are, however, required to be registered by the Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation. You can start your registration by creating a Home Improvement Contractor Account.

If you want to expand your business by also doing construction work, you will need to apply for a license. In order to apply for a license you will be required to:

  • Pass the Construction Supervisor Licensing (CSL) Exam
  • Show proof of 3 years of experience

Michigan

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters in Michigan need to apply for a Maintenance and Alterations license. The license is issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. In order to apply for the license, you will be required to:

  • Take a 60 hours pre-licensing course (note that you will need to take the course specific to your branch: Painting and Decorating)
  • Pass the exam following the course

Minnesota

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

When you are accepting contracts directly from a homeowner or getting a business contract with more than one skill area, then you will need to obtain a license. Each field related to painting such as interior painting, exterior painting, and drywall painting falls into different skill areas. To get a license. you’ll need to pass the exam and provide proof of General Liability insurance. Here are some other requirements:

  • Painting contractors can be exempt if you show the gross annual receipts amounting to less than $15,000.
  • License applicants must pass business, law, and Residential Building Contractor exams.
  • Workers Compensation insurance is needed if you have employees.

Mississippi

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters in Mississippi need to be licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. The state has a pre-approval stage which requires that you take an exam. But, if you do industrial paintwork you don’t need to take an exam.

License applicants are required to submit a financial statement. You will need to submit proof of your Workers Compensation and General Liability insurance. In addition:

  • Contractors performing new residential construction costing more than $50,000 will need a residential building license
  • A contractor doing residential remodeling greater than $10,000 will require a residential remodeling license
  • An applicant must pass business, law and trade exams.

Missouri

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

The state does not require painters to obtain a license. However, there may be requirements at a city or county level, so check your local government before you start accepting contracts.

Montana

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

There are no license requirements in Montana, however, you’ll have to register with the state if you have employees.

Nebraska

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

If you are doing business in the state and the county has a population of more than 100,000, you need to obtain a license. Painting contractors must also register with the Nebraska Department of Labor. In addition:

Nevada

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Nevada requires painting contractors to have a license regardless of the contract. Applicants must submit an application to the state licensing board for pre-approval before they are allowed to take the exam.

  • License applicants are required to pass the trade and the Management Survey exam to obtain a license
  • Applicants must submit documents demonstrating a minimum of four years of working experience within the past 10 years to be qualified for a license
  • Applicants must submit their current financial statements to the state licensing board. The monetary limits are based on the financial standing. If you are seeking a monthly limit of $1,000,000 or more, a financial statement must be reviewed by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • A surety bond is required to get a license. Workers’ Compensation is also needed if you have employees

New Hampshire

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painting contractors do not need to be licensed in the state. However, there may be licensing requirements at city or county level, so check your local government before accepting painting contracts.

New Jersey

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters in the state fall under the umbrella contractors category. This means that you will need to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs and must renew registration every year. When registered, painters must show their proof of registration via a registration badge and display their registration number in the shop, on documents, and on advertisements.

  • The Contractor's Registration Act requires painters to register with the N.J Division of Consumer Affairs
  • A permit license from any of the following is needed when painters use lead paint:
    • Department of Environmental Protection Compliance & Enforcement
    • Department of Law and Public Safety
    • Division of Consumer Affairs

New Mexico

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

As of April 1st 2016, painters no longer need to be licensed by the state. However, there may be licensing requirements at city or county level so check with your local government before accepting painting contracts.

New York

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

The state of New York does not require painters to obtain a license. However, there will be certain requirements at county or city level. You will need to pass an exam and show proof of insurance to the local government to get licensed.

North Carolina

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters in North Carolina will need to hold a license if the jobs exceed $30,000. If the jobs are under $30,000 then a license is not necessary. When you hire employees, you are required to hold a general contractor license. Licensing applicants will need to pass exams provided by the North Carolina Licensing board. When you deal with lead-based paint, you will have to take a series of classes provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and receive certification.

North Dakota

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

If your projects amount to more than $4,000, you need to obtain a license. You also need to be registered with the Secretary of State. There are no exam requirements, but you will need to show proof of insurance.

There are various classifications and the class you will choose depends on the scope of the work that you carry out:

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

General Liability insurance is required before you can obtain a license. Workers’ Compensation will be needed if you have employees.

Ohio

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters do not need to hold a license at the state level. However, you will need to be licensed and registered at the local level with the requirements depending on the city you are in.

You are required to notify the state’s EPA that you generate hazardous waste, and you will need to submit other report requirements. Do note that complying with some of these requirements will take time, so it's best if you do these early.



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Oklahoma

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters in Oklahoma are considered general contractors and are not required to obtain a license. However, check with the city or county your business is in as the local government may require you to obtain a license.

Oregon

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

The state of Oregon will require contractors, particularly those who work in property improvement including painters, to get a license. To obtain a license, you must complete training and pass the business, trade, and law exams. You must provide proof of General Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance when you apply. The license will be valid for two years.

  • At least one painter of the contractor's business must complete sixteen hours of Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) training. The training must be carried out by an accredited provider.
  • When you use lead-based paint, you are required to obtain a special license from the Oregon Health Authority.

Pennsylvania

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doe not require construction contractors to hold a license. Under the Home Improvement Consumer Protection act, you are required to register your business and hold insurance (General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance). If a painter works with lead removal, they must be licensed by the state, namely by the PA Department of Labor and Industry.

Rhode Island

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

If you build, repair, or remodel up to four residential buildings in the state, you will need to be registered by the Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board.

If you work in a pre-1978 home, you will need to have a license awarded by the Lead Hazard Control Firm. Before the Lead-Safe Remodeler license can be awarded, contractors must complete 8 hours of training.

South Carolina

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters in the state of South Carolina will require a license, particularly the work to be carried out is a commercial construction project costing more than $5,000. Licensing applicants will need to demonstrate at least two years of work experience in the past five years. Painters must pass the business, technical and law exams. Painters who work on residential buildings, on the other hand, need to be registered but do not need to take the exam.

South Dakota

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

You aren’t required to hold a painter’s license awarded by the state. However, painters are considered general construction contractors, therefore you will need to be licensed by the local government.

Tennessee

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters need a Home Improvement License if you are doing any remodeling on residential homes and if the projects cost from $3,000 up to $25,000. If the jobs cost more than $25,000, then a contractor’s license is required. In order to be licensed, the following documentation are required:

To obtain contractor’s license, you will also need to pass the trade exam.

Texas

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

There are no licensing requirements at the state level, but you may need to obtain a local license before you can start a painting business by your local government depending on the city you operate your business in.

Utah

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters in the state will need a construction contractor license issued by the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. Licensing applicants must provide proof of insurance:

Vermont

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

As painters, you are considered as general and home improvement contractors in the state and therefore don’t need to get a state license. However, there may be licensing requirements needed by the local government, so check your city or county for any licensing requirements before you start accepting contracts.

Virginia

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

Painters in the state will need to acquire a license issued by the Department of Professional Occupational Regulation. There are three types of classes for the contractors in the state. Your classification will depend on the project amount and your years worth of experience. Before getting approved, you will need to pass a trade exam first.

Classes are identified according to the following:

  • Class A
    • Individual projects worth $10,000 up to a maximum of $150,000 per year.
    • Must have 2 years of experience.
  • Class B
    • Individual projects worth $120,000 with a maximum of $750,000 per year.
    • Must have at least three years of experience.
  • Class C
    • There is no limit to individual projects.
    • Must have a minimum of five years of experience.

You also need a special license if you are dealing with lead or asbestos.

Washington

State license: No ; Registration: Yes

Painters need to be licensed at state level. You need to register with the Washington Secretary of State. There are no tests to be taken in order to get a license. On registration, you will need to show proof of insurance:

  • A surety bond of $6,000 for specialty contractors
  • You will require proof of General Liability insurance from your insurance agent

West Virginia

State license: Yes ; Registration: Yes

You need to be licensed in the state if your projects amount to more than $1,000. The license is awarded by the West Virginia Division of Labor. Below are additional requirements to obtain a license.

Wisconsin

State license: No ; Registration: No

The state of Wisconsin does not require a license for painters. However, there may be licensing requirements at the city or county level so check with your local government before you start working.

Wyoming

State license: No ; Registration: No

Painters do not need to be licensed by the state. There may be licensing requirements locally, so check with your local government before you start accepting contracts.

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