How to get a contractor’s license?

This article will take you through how to get a contractor’s license.

Click on the abbreviation for any state here to see information about getting licensed in that state. Holding a license in one state usually doesn’t grant the right to do construction work in another state. Exceptions are noted in the list of license requirements for each state.

The penalty for accepting any significant work without a license is usually a fine. An unlicensed contractor may not have the right to sue to collect what’s due under a construction contract.

Most states require license applicants to take a written examination on construction law, business organization and the skills of their occupation. Applicants may have to prove financial ability to operate a contracting business. Letters of reference from previous employers, customers, bankers, architects or engineers may be required. Many states also require proof of on-the-job experience.

This Web site is designed to provide everything you need to know to apply for a contractor’s license or construction tradesman’s license anywhere in the U.S. – including who to contact, Web addresses, phone and fax numbers, application fees, examination content and reference manuals recommended for the license examination.

Nearly all states have basic requirements for applicants. We don’t list these basic requirements under state names because they’re the same or very similar in all states:

  • At least 18 years old with a high school diploma or the equivalent.
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency.
  • Documentation on any other occupational license you hold in the state.
  • Two passport-size photos.
  • Explanation of citations, violations or liens resulting from construction work.
  • Corporations doing business in any state must be registered with the Secretary of State.
  • Bidding for work on state projects usually requires prequalification.

Other issues to consider before beginning work in any community:

  • Many counties and cities require a business or occupation license.
  • The tax authority in each state has the right to set conditions for doing business in that state.
  • Many states require that licensed contractors post a “state license bond.” That bond offers no protection from liability if there’s an accident or fire on the job. Construction contractors need liability and workers’ compensation coverage in each state where they do business.