Alabama Contractor Licenses

Contractor license requirements are a complicated landscape to navigate, and those of Alabama are no exception. Different states have different requirements, and this article seeks to clarify the need for contractors to have licenses in that specific state, hoping to aid both aspiring contractors and homeowners doing home improvement.

Did you know that the construction industry, particularly commercial construction, plays a very important role in the state of Alabama’s economy? Behind the steady hum of the earth moving machines that you see is an eye-popping figure – $12 billion to be more specific. That’s the impact that the industry has on the state’s economy.

Here are some more numbers:

  • The commercial construction industry employed more than 155,000 full-time workers as of 2015. That’s more or less 57% of the available jobs in Alabama.
  • It also generates around $444 million in sales and taxes that go to the Education Trust Fund of the state.
  • There are close to 3,000 job openings each year in the industry.
  • Workers in the commercial construction industry are paid 33% more on average than the average American worker.
  • You don’t need to be a 4-year degree holder to succeed in this industry, saving you from the headache of student loans that can take more than 10 years to pay.
  • Thousands of older tradesmen are retiring each year, with not enough younger workers to replace them.

With these numbers, it’s really quite a shame that the state is having problems filling the need of skilled workers in the industry. These numbers should be enough to convince potential workers, including you, to take advantage of Alabama contractor licenses that could pave the way for you to have a successful and fulfilling life.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll help you – a potential tradesman – to know how to get an Alabama contractor license. We’ll discuss why you should get one. We’ll also walk you through the step by step process.

Even potential project owners can benefit from this guide as well. You’ll know the importance of hiring a licensed contractor for your project. You’ll also know how to find and verify a contractor’s license.

Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License

As a project owner, you might be tempted or lured into hiring an unlicensed contractor. A lot of them market their services aggressively, to the point that they go door to door with offers that seem too good to be true.

There are a lot of good contractors that don’t have a license for valid reasons. However, you have to keep these benefits in mind that will encourage you to hire a licensed one if the situation calls for it:

  • Your project will be done professionally and systematically.

If you’ve worked with unprofessional tradesmen before, working with a professional one will be a breath of fresh air. The difference is night and day. It will be a very pleasant experience with little to no headaches. If there are problems, a professional and licensed contractor will know what to do.

There will also be a system in place. This is thanks to their years of experience working in the industry. A systematic approach will ensure efficiency in the work. This means less delay, fewer mistakes, and an overall pleasant experience.

  • You will be protected.

A contractor with licensing is also insured and bonded because those are requirements to get licensing. This will protect you as a project owner. If you hire an unlicensed worker and you don’t have insurance, you’d be hoping that he doesn’t get into an accident. If he does, then you will be held liable.

A licensed contractor will also ensure that he’ll see the project throughout completion. With a system in place, this is attainable. This is also a must because of the bond.

  • You will hire an experience and competent contractor.

Experience is an important requirement to get licensing. An applicant should have the right amount of experience. In addition, he’d have to pass trade exams, and he can’t do that if he’s not competent.

By hiring a licensed contractor, you’re hiring someone that has good experience and is knowledgeable in the trade. He wouldn’t get licensing if not. This is a good way to weed out inexperienced and incompetent contractors.

  • The necessary requirements will be fulfilled.

There are requirements by the government. There are permits that need to be pulled. Inspections will be done regularly. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, these might be missed, putting you and your project in trouble.

The last thing that you’d want to happen is to have the government come knocking asking to see the necessary paperwork and you don’t have anything to show. A licensed contractor, as part of his system, will pull the permits for you. He’ll also make sure that the project will be ready for the regular inspections.

As a project owner, wouldn’t you want to experience these benefits? As a contractor, wouldn’t you want to cater to these project owners who want to experience these benefits?

How to Get a Contractor’s License and Advantages of Getting One

If in case you’re looking for more specific benefits of getting licensing, here are the advantages of getting one:

  • You can market your services as a licensed contractor.

Every lead matters in this industry. This is why you have to step up your marketing efforts. In this industry where every competitor is marketing his service, you need to stand out, and being able to use the word “Licensed” in your marketing can really help a lot.

A marketing headline with the words “Licensed Contractor” can capture attention better than one with just “Contractor” in it. It’s safe to say that most project owners, when looking at advertisements, will skim past advertisements that don’t have the word “Licensed” in them. Don’t lose out on the opportunity to get clients through your marketing efforts.

  • You’ll be seen as someone who’s credible.

Credibility also matters in this industry. This is why all licensed contractors, in an effort to protect their name and credibility, will make sure that their credibility will always be high. Nowadays when it’s very easy to file a complaint, you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one.

Project owners know this. They know how important your name is to you and that you’ll do everything you can to ensure satisfaction so that your credibility will be protected. This is why you’ll get an instant boost of credibility simply because they’ll know that you’ll do everything to protect your name.

  • You will be seen as a competent professional.

People know that it’s not easy to get licensing. You’ll be seen as among the best service providers in the state, and that’s huge. At the very least, they’ll see you as a competent professional. After all, competency is needed in order to pass the strict licensing procedure.

You’ll also be seen as someone who has a significant amount of experience. If you’re the project owner, would you go for an experienced or inexperienced one?

  • You have the potential to earn more money.

The advantages listed above will lead to more customers. More customers equal more projects. More projects equal more money.

More importantly, you’ll be able to bid on bigger projects. These are the projects that present higher earning potentials. These projects require a license for you to be able to bid. If you’re not licensed, you wouldn’t even get inside the door.

Imagine the confidence that you’ll have when bidding knowing that you belong there and that you qualify to work on that project.

  • You can avoid problems with the government.

As mentioned, certain projects require licensing. If you work on these projects and you’re unlicensed, then you will get in trouble with the government. You’ll be penalized, fined, or even jailed.

You will also have complete paperwork. That’s important so that you’ll be on the good side of the government. The state of Alabama is very friendly to contractors since it recognizes their importance. The least you can do is to comply with its rules and guidelines. It’s for your own good anyway.

  • You can grow your business.

While some contractors are happy with staying small, wouldn’t you rather grow your business if you can? Growing your business allows you to grow your earning potential. You’ll also employ more people and help the state’s economy more.

With the advantages listed above, you can easily grow your business. You’re not going to be just a handyman. You will be a business – a growing one at that.

These advantages will most likely lead you to get licensed immediately. Yes, you should get licensed, but is now the perfect time for you? Here are some considerations:

  • Can you pass the exams?

Will you be able to pass the trade exams? If you’re not that skilled yet, you might find it hard to pass the exams. Start with being a handyman first and work on small jobs. Build your skillset as you go along until you’re confident enough to apply and pass the exams.

  • Do you have enough experience?

Experience is required for licensing. If you don’t have the required number of years of experience, you won’t be granted licensing.

In addition, how experienced are you with the bidding process? Can you confidently bid knowing that you’ve submitted a bid that’s just right? It’s low enough to be attractive but high enough for you to earn money.

Again, start small. Bid on smaller projects and bid on slightly bigger projects as you go along.

  • Do you know what service/s you want to specialize in?

In some cases, a license can limit the service/s that you can offer. This is why you have to determine first what service/s you’d want to specialize in so you can get licensing for them. You wouldn’t want to be licensed for a service that you don’t really want to offer.

If you feel that you’re ready, there are 2 general Alabama contractor licenses:

  • Prime contractor

As a prime contractor, you need to apply for licensing for commercial projects that cost $50,000 and above. You need to do the same for residential projects that cost $10,000 and above.

  • Subcontractor

If you’re working for a licensed general contractor on a project that costs more than $50,000, you need to get a subcontractor license.

Of course, there are many special licenses that you need to apply for depending on your specific case. More details will be discussed on them later on in the article.

So how do you apply for an Alabama contractor license? Here’s how to apply as a prime contractor:

  • Download the application form here. Fill it out completely and send it together with the $300 application fee. Make sure to send them at least 30 days before a scheduled meeting by the board. You can click here for the board meeting dates and deadlines.
  • When you send in the application, make sure to include proof that you have current liability insurance. The insured’s name must be the same as the applicant’s. The holder of the certificated should be named as “Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors, 2525 Fairlane Dr., Montgomery, AL 36116”.
  • You must be registered to do business in the state. Do a search of your entity on this page. Take a print screen of your details. Make sure that the print screen is of the same year that you’re applying for.
  • Submit a current financial statement. It should be prepared by a board-approved CPA or licensed public accountant.
  • Attach a total of 3 work reference forms. It can be from any combination from:
    • Registered architect
    • Registered professional engineer
    • Licensed general contractor
    • Board-qualified individual
  • Submit an organizational chart.

Here’s how to apply as a subcontractor:

  • Download the application form here. Fill it out completely and send it together with the $150 application fee.
  • Attach a total of 3 work reference forms. It can be from any combination from:
    • Registered architect
    • Registered professional engineer
    • Licensed general contractor
    • Board-qualified individual
  • You must be registered to do business in the state. Do a search of your entity on this page. Take a print screen of your details. Make sure that the print screen is of the same year that you’re applying.
  • If you have them, attach Alabama certification cards.

Alabama State Licensing Board for Contractors

The Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors is composed of 5 governor-appointed board members. The board is responsible for receiving and processing license applications. They are also responsible for ultimately upholding the integrity of the construction industry by investigating unlicensed contractors that prey on consumers and legit contractors.

The board is chaired by Alex Whaley, with Chip Grizzle serving as the vice chairman. Marc Dempsey serves the board as its secretary and treasurer. Keith Andrews and Mike Tew round up the board as members.

The board licenses up to 10,000 contractors each year. They hold regular meetings every quarter during the months of January, April, July and October.

They hold office at this address:

Office of the Board
2525 Fairlane Drive
Montgomery, AL 36116

You can get in touch with them via the following information:

Alabama Online Contractor License Search & Lookup

As a project owner, it’s a good idea to verify the license first of the contractor that you’re considering to hire. Fortunately, you can take advantage of this Alabama online contractor license lookup tool.

The easiest way to use this tool is to enter the license number. If you don’t have the license number, you can try searching using the name, city, state, specialty and/or phone number.

There’s also a database on that page of the licensed contractors. You can browse through the details there and just click on the license number for more details.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for or if you want the most updated and verified information, you can contact the board for assistance.

Contractor License Classifications in the State of Alabama

Here are the classifications of contractor licenses in AL:

Alabama Residential Contractor License

This classification is handled by the State of AL Home Builders Licensure Board. You need licensing if the total project costs more than $10,000. There are 2 types. Here they are together with the procedure:

  • Unlimited
  • Download the application form here. Make sure to fill it out completely and accurately. Have it notarized before submitting it to the board.
  • Enclosed in that application form package is an order form for a credit report for your business. The credit reporting agency, using this form, will submit it directly to the board.
  • Pay the yearly license fee of $250 and new license processing fee of $100. Pay via check or money order payable to the Home Builders Licensure Board. The processing fee is non-refundable. The yearly license fee will be refunded in case of rejection.
  • Make sure to attach the following:
    • If applying as a corporation, LLC or limited partnership, attach a Certificate of Good Standing issued by the AL Department of Revenue.
    • If applying as an out of state corporation, LLC or limited partnership, attach a Certificate of Existence issued by the AL Secretary of State.
    • If applying as a corporation, LLC or limited partnership, attach your Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization or Partnership Agreement that have been filed with the probate judge. Also if applying as a corporation, make sure to attach any document that shows the current crop of officers.
  • Take the written examination. Click here for details on the exam.
  • Limited
    • Download the application form here. Make sure to fill it out completely and accurately. Have it notarized before submitting it to the board.
    • Enclosed in that application form package is an order form for a credit report for your business. The credit reporting agency, using this form, will submit it directly to the board.
    • Pay the yearly license fee of $250 and new license processing fee of $100. Pay via check or money order payable to the Home Builders Licensure Board. The processing fee is non-refundable. The yearly license fee will be refunded in case of rejection.
    • Make sure to attach the following:
      • Details about your experience in the industry.
      • If applying as a corporation, LLC or limited partnership, attach a Certificate of Good Standing issued by the AL Department of Revenue.
      • If applying as an out of state corporation, LLC or limited partnership, attach a Certificate of Existence issued by the AL Secretary of State.
      • If applying as a corporation, LLC or limited partnership, attach your Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization or Partnership Agreement that have been filed with the probate judge. Also if applying as a corporation, make sure to attach any document that shows the current crop of officers.

If you need to get in touch with them, you can contact them via this page. You can also visit their office located at this address:

Home Builders Licensure Board
445 Herron Street
Montgomery, AL 36104

Here’s their mailing address:

Home Builders Licensure Board
P. O. Box 303605
Montgomery, AL 36130-3605

You can also contact them directly via the following:

  • 800-304-0853 (Toll-free)
  • 334-242-2230 (Phone)
  • 334-263-1397 (Fax)

Electrical Contractor

You can apply as an electrical contractor either by examination or reciprocity. Here is the process if you’re applying by examination:

  • Download and fill out the form found here. Make sure to fill it out completely and accurately. You also need to attach a 2 by 2 passport photo.
  • For work experience, you should submit proof that you have at least 8,000 hours of work experience as an electrical supervisor. If you have one year of qualified education, it can substitute the half a year of experience as an electrical supervisor for 2,000 hours at most of the required 8,000 hours. You must submit proof of the qualified education.
  • If approved, you will be notified within 10 days. Once you’ve received correspondence that you’ve been approved, you need to settle the examination fee of $165 either by cashier’s check or money order.
  • Once paid, you will receive through mail an authorization letter with details on how you can get scheduled for the exam that you have to pass.
  • If you pass, you will receive your score in the mail. If you don’t, you will receive a form that will allow you to reschedule the exam.

If you’re applying by reciprocity, you must also meet the requirements for experience highlighted above. You should have also taken and passed the standardized exam issued by the following states that have a reciprocity agreement with Alabama:

In addition to the filling out this form (make sure that you indicate that you’re applying by reciprocity), you should also submit the following requirements:

  • A copy of the state license from the issuing state’s board that shows you have a valid electrical contractor license. It should match the category that you’re applying for.
  • Proof (in the form of an original letter from the issuing state’s board) that you have an unlimited and unrestricted valid license and that you are a passer of the required exam in your state.
  • Pay the reciprocity fee of $315.

If applying for a journeyman license, you can do so by examination. Here’s how to do it:

  • Download and fill out this form completely and accurately.
  • You should show proof that you have at least 8,000 hours of work experience that shows your qualifications and technical know-how in working with electrical apparatus, wiring, equipment, lights, power or heat. A significant part of your work experience should be in working with residential, industrial and commercial projects.
  • If you have a year of related education or as an apprentice, you can substitute that for 1,000 hours of the required 8,000 hours of work experience. You can substitute up to 2,000 hours if you have 2 years of related education or apprenticeship.
  • Wait up to 10 days after you submit the application form for notification that you have to submit a $115 examination fee. Pay via cashier’s check or money order payable to AL Electrical Contractors Board.

For questions and more details, you can contact the Alabama Electrical Contractors Board using this form. You can also contact them at the following numbers:

  • 334-420-7232 (Phone)
  • 334-263-6115 (Fax)

You can also visit them at this address:

2777 Zelda Road
Montgomery, AL 36106

Their hours of operation are 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor License

Licensure is handled by the Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors. Here’s the process to apply by examination:

  • Ensure that you qualify. You should:
    • Have at least 2 years of experience as an apprentice and is registered as such by the board.
    • Have completed at least 3,000 hours of experience or related coursework.
    • Be a graduate of a board-approved curriculum.
  • Download and fill out this form completely and accurately.
  • Attach the following with your application:
    • Signed and notarized sworn affidavits from your employers that you have worked in the industry for at least 2 years within the past 5 years. Include the necessary W-2 Forms. Alternatively, you can also submit copies of your certificates that show attendance to at least 3,000 hours of related and approved educational training.
    • Proof of graduation at a related and approved curriculum.
  • Pay the $150 examination fee.

Here’s how to apply by reciprocity:

  • You must hold a valid and up-to-date license at any of the following states:
  • Complete the following forms and have them signed and notarized:
  • Pay the processing fee of $165 per year (if active) or $82.50 per year (if inactive).
  • You should have a performance bond of $15,000 that’s in the same name of business as the obligee.

Make sure that you submit the complete requirements 10 full working days before the board meets. Cutoff time is 4:30 PM. You can contact them 334-241-0840 or [email protected] for any questions.

Plumbing and Gas Fitting Contractor License

There’s a State of Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board that ensures the safety of the public by ensuring that only competent plumbers and gas fitters get a license. The board holds office at this address:

216 Aquarius Drive, Suite 319
Homewood, AL 35209

They hold office from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM except from 12 PM to 1 PM when they have their lunch break.

You can contact them at the following:

Here are the requirements to take the exam:

  • Apprentice

Click here to register as an apprentice. Make sure that you include proof that you’re a citizen or complete the Lawful Presence of Non-Citizen Form if you’re not a citizen. Fee is $25 initially. This includes registration.

  • Journeyman plumber or gas fitter

You need to be registered as an apprentice for at least 2 years. Alternatively, you could replace that with completion of a training program for apprentices that has been approved by the board. The exam fee is $110.

  • Master plumber

You need to be certified as a journeyman plumber for at least 1 year. The exam fee is $160.

  • Master gas fitter

You need to be certified as a journeyman gas fitter for at least 1 year. The exam fee is $160.

  • Medical gas

You should have an up-to-date certification issued by the National Institute of Testing and Certification. You need to pay $25 to renew.

Click here to download and fill out the exam packet.

If you want to become a gas fitter, you need to pass either the journeyman or master exam. In addition, you need to be certified as an apprentice. Click here to register as an apprentice.

AL Department of Transportation Projects

If you’re licensed, you can bid on AL DOT projects. However, you also need to be prequalified first. Get in touch with them for prequalification requirements and processes. Here’s their mailing address:

P.O. Box 303050
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-3050

Their physical address is in this location:

1409 Coliseum Boulevard
Montgomery, Alabama 36110

You can also contact them via phone at 334-353-6554 or email at [email protected].

Alabama Contractor License Reciprocity

The state of AL has reciprocity agreements with the following states:

As long as you have an up-to-date contractor license in any of these states and you’re considered to be of good standing, you can apply for licensing via reciprocity for as long as the licensing that you hold is considered to be comparable to what you’re applying for. You need to have written certification from the issuing state’s board.

You still need to comply with the other requirements, including taking and passing the business exam.