Nevada Contractor Licenses


Nevada’s contractor policies can be described as strict, comprehensive, but necessary. On one hand, the numerous classifications of classifications allow professionals to choose the most suitable license that applies to their craft.

On the other hand, requirements can be lax in some categories but extremely rigorous for the others. This article aims to help you understand the intricacies of getting a contractors license in Nevada.

Getting Your Contractor’s License in Nevada

In Nevada, most providers of construction and renovation services must obtain a license before they can participate in such activities. The only notable exceptions are when you’re a residential property owner conducting minor home improvement measures without any intention of leasing or selling your property, or if you’re a contractor conducting a repair amounting to a value of less than $1,000. If you’re keen on expanding your business to major construction and renovation projects, then getting a contractor’s license is the only rational course of action. Nevada licensing requirements are quite complicated, but fret not because we’re here to walk you through every step of the process!

Why is getting a license important?

There are many benefits a contractor can gain from getting licensed. Aside from the personal sense of fulfillment of being able to have a document that attests to your character and excellence, here are some of the more practical advantages that will surely motivate you to get that license!

1. Licenses open up a world of opportunities for you!

Having no license ‘ limits the kind of work you can do as a contractor. Make no mistake, if you intend to have a profitable business, getting yourself a license is one of the few ways to achieve this is no time at all. Remember, the project spending cap of $1,000 applies not only to materials, but also labor! With a general contractors license, you’re free to work on all sorts of projects; from a roofing contract in the suburbs to a big time deal managing a hotel’s plumbing needs! You can never go wrong with a license on your hands.

2. Build rapport with your clients and get more deals and projects!

One advantage of having a license with you is that it allows you to get a countless number of projects with clients and build a good professional relationship with them. Say you’re a contractor and this couple was really satisfied with the work you did on their electrical circuit, and they want you to handle another one of their wiring needs as well but the project costs more than $1,000. With a contractor’s license, you don’t have to worry about it! Just keep on doing great work and you can have a set of loyal customers willing to refer you to their friends and family on your hands. Cultivating these potential long-standing relationships will definitely help you get the connections to keep on building your contractors’ business. Not bad, right?

3. People simply pay more for licensed contractors

In the end, a lot of consumers simply prefer paying more for a contractor with a license. With a licensed contractor, they’re sure that they are paying for somebody who has received lots of training, and who had to pass a number of standardized exams gauging their mastery on skills and tools in their respective trades. They’re simply willing to pay an additional fee for their peace of mind and confidence that they won’t have to call a whole lot of more money to finish a project started by an unreliable contractor. Your license is a proof of your excellence in your field. All of your would-be customers definitely won’t have it any other way!

What kind of license should I get?

There are three (3) different kinds of licenses sanctioned by the Nevada State Contractors Board, namely:

  1. a. General Engineering license
  2. b. General Building license
  3. c. General Building and Engineering License
  4. d. Specialty license/s.

Each license is designed specifically for what kind of work you’re willing to do as a contractor. The first three licenses are recommended for contractors who want to offer a wide array of services for their customers.

The General Engineering license is geared towards practitioners who possess advanced technical skills needed to accomplish more complicated projects. It generally allows the holder of the license to take on projects related to the construction of public works such as highways or bridges, as well as excavation, swimming pool construction, irrigation, among others. For a full list of all allowed activities for the general engineering license contractor, click here. On the other hand, the General Building license is geared towards typical construction contractors engaged with pre-manufactured housing or remodeling of commercial spaces. If you’re generally dealing with the common aspects of renovation, refurbishment, and construction, then this license is probably the best for you. The specialty license is preferable is you would like to concentrate on a specific aspect of contracting like electricity or plumbing. More details on these licenses will be discussed later in this article.

Importance of hiring a contractor with a license

If you’re a homeowner, remember that hiring a contractor with a license always has incentives. Paying more for a licensed contractor means that you’ll also be paying for more convenience and comfortability for you and your family. Of course ultimately your experience will also depend on the contractor you hired. But here are some of the general benefits of having a licensed contractor working on your home projects:

1. Hate dealing with complicated regulations? Your licensed contractor got it!

Government regulations, whether federal, state, or local, can often be complicated. You have to fill out so many forms even for similar projects, and you have to submit it by taking a day or two off from work just to go to different offices scattered all across your town. With a licensed contractor, you don’t have to worry about all of that. Think of all the time and effort that’s going to save you!

2. Always worry about accidents? Your licensed contractor’s going to deal with it!

Like most other states, Nevada requires all contractors who want to receive a license to procure their own general liability insurance which would cover all their projects. If an unfortunate accident happens to the laborers working on your kitchen remodel, you won’t have to worry about all the emergency costs that entails. Your contractors’ insurance will make sure of that. Moreover, all residents of Nevada who acquire services from licensed contractors for their home construction or refurbishment are also given access to the Residential Recovery Fund (RRF). The RRF is a fund managed by the State Contractors Board which provides financial assistance up to $35,000 in the event of damage to your residential property. Sometimes, accidents do happen even with all caution exerted, and especially since a lot of contractor services such as electricity and construction are quite dangerous. Your contactors’ insurance could come in handy in the most unexpected situations.

3. Want an expert? Your licensed contractor is one of them!

Getting certified wasn’t an easy feat. More important than all the paperwork that they filed to meet regulations, they have also had to accumulate training, experience, and knowledge just to meet Nevada’s standards. Considering the difficulty of getting a contractors license in Nevada, you can be sure that you’re only hiring some of the best contractors in your state. You don’t have to worry about any ignorance with their knowledge of regulations nor their skills and familiarity with the latest innovations in their specialty fields. Some licenses even require continuing education to maintain their license! All of this makes for an extremely qualified, well-trained contractor ready to provide only the best service for your needs.

Before settling on your contractor, it would be useful to look at the “10 Point Contractor Code of Ethics”. These standards for ethical practice in the field of contracting can be a good barometer of a contractor’s honesty, efficiency and knowledge. If they get a check on all criteria, you can rest easy without any doubts knowing that you’re really having one of the best contractors working on your home renovation or construction projects.

State-Level vs City-Level Regulations

There may be certain specialty classifications not regulated by the Nevada State Contractors Board. Conversely, there might also be additional requirements for general contractors in your local jurisdiction. So, don’t forget to check with your county of city governments about any other regulations that may apply within local limits. Don’t worry though, if you’re living in one of the largest cities in Nevada, their policies will be discussed later in this article.

Nevada contractor license search and lookup

After you’ve finally chosen a contractor, what’s next? Well, don’t forget to verify the validity of their license with the State Contractors Board. Click here for access to the State’s licensed contractors database. In order to use the platform, make sure you have any of the following information:

  1. License Number
  2. Business Name
  3. Proprietor’s Name

Haven’t got a chance to look up a contractor for your home renovation or construction? The State Contractor Board also has a platform which provides comprehensive listing of all licensed contractors near you. Simply enter your county and all the necessary details like addresses, contact numbers and spending caps of contractors will appear. You can also narrow down the search to contractors which provide specialty services like plumbing, wiring, electrical services, among others.

Lastly, you can also search the database to determine if a contractor has been previously sanctioned for criminal or prohibited activity. This is a good way of finding out more about the history of your contractor.

Contractor license classifications

Nevada offers a wide array of licenses, ranging from specialty services to general contractor services. Thus, contractors can easily get licensed their respective areas of mastery. This section is a summary of the licensing classification framework utilized by the State of Nevada. For a comprehensive listing and explanation of the classifications, visit the website of the Nevada State Contractors board here.

1. General Engineering License – for projects requiring knowledge and mastery of specialized engineering processes.

  1. Dams and Reservoirs
  2. Oil and Gas Drilling
  3. Excavation and Grading
  4. Structure Demolition
  5. Pool Construction and Maintenance
  6. Industrial Piping
  7. Agricultural Irrigation Lines
  8. Telecommunications Towers

2. General Building License – for projects requiring knowledge and mastery of constructing structures such as, but not limited to, houses, cages, and movable properties.

  1. Vehicle Service Stations
  2. Prefabricated Housing
  3. Prefabricated Steel Configurations
  4. Commercial Remodeling
  5. Residential and Commercial Properties not more than three (3) stories

3. General Building and Engineering License – for projects requiring knowledge and mastery in both construction and specialty engineering classifications. An applicant for this license must demonstrate his ability to handle contracting projects, in terms of both his understanding of all sub-classifications and financial capability.

Nevada State Contractors Board

As the primary contractors’ regulatory agency in Nevada, the State Contractors Board aims to ensure the general welfare of the public by ensuring that only the most reliable and capable individuals are given contractor licenses. This involves a rigorous selection of contractors through a combination of written examinations and an extensive character evaluation investigation, which includes all aspects of the applicant’s history – from criminal convictions, employment accounts, credit records, to character references. The main purpose of this exercise is to gauge the ability of aspiring contractors to provide the best contracting services for the citizens of Nevada. Additionally, the Nevada State Contractors Board is also the body in charge of investigating possible violations committed by licensed and unlicensed contractors alike.

For more information regarding the other services they provide, the Nevada State Contractors Board has two offices you may visit, depending on which branch is more convenient for you:

If you’re in the Las Vegas area, you can set an appointment by calling (702) 486-1100, or go directly to their office at 2310 Corporate Circle, Ste 200 Henderson, Nevada 89074.

Serving the Northern Nevada area, the Reno office of the State Contractors Board is located at 5390 Kietzke Lane, Ste 102, Reno, Nevada 89511. You can contact them for urgent matters over the phone: (775) 688-114.

The Nevada State Contractors Board takes their job very seriously, and can hand out disciplinary actions ranging from reprimand notices to penalties of up to $10,000, and if the charge merits it, even the permanent cancellation of your contractors license! So always comply with their requirements before conducting any activity. You can learn the details about the various licenses in Nevada by reading the next sections.

Electrical License

Electrical licenses in Nevada are regulated at the state-level. In order to be considered for the license, the applicant must have at least four (4) years of experience as a journeyman electrician within the past ten (10) years. If the applicant has any tertiary training, it may be considered as an equivalent experience as well. Additionally, the applicant must be able to produce letters of reference from four (4) professionals who have evaluated or supervised the applicant during his training.

If these requirements are met, the applicant can then proceed to the licensing test. The licensing test is composed of two (2) complementary divisions: first is the General Business and Law Examination which is designed to gauge the applicants’ knowledge of management practices in the contracting field, while the second is the specialty classification examination which is designed to evaluate the applicants’ capacity to apply his knowledge to practical and specific scenarios.

The General Business and Law Examination is composed of three (3) non-scored items and sixty (60) scored items. To pass the examination, the applicant must be able to obtain forty-five (45) correct answers on the following topics:

  • Financial Management: 12 items
  • Licensing: 10 items
  • Estimating and Bidding: 7 items
  • Tax Laws: 5 items
  • Labor Laws: 5 items
  • Lien Law: 3 items
  • Project Management: 3 items
  • Risk Management: 4 items
  • Environmental Safety: 5 items
  • Contract Knowledge: 6 items

Calculators are allowed, and the applicant can bring a copy of Construction Business and Law Manual for Nevada, published by PSI, during the exam. Remove any attachments from the reference as this is not permitted. For the specialty classification examination, the applicant must be able to correctly answer fifty-six (56) out of eighty (80) items within four (4) hours. The composition of exam questions are as follows:

  • Safety Knowledge: 8 items
  • Conductors and Cables: 8 items
  • Service, Feeders, and Branch Circuits: 7 items
  • Grounding and Bonding: 7 items
  • Raceways and Boxes: 7 items
  • General Electrical Knowledge: 6 items
  • Electrical Power: 6 items
  • Motors: 6 items
  • Special Occupancies and Equipment: 5 items
  • Transmission Lines: 5 items
  • Lighting: 5 items
  • Overcurrent Protection: 4 items
  • Fire Detection and Alarm Systems: 2 items
  • Illuminated Signs: 2 items
  • Low Voltage: 2 items

The combined cost of these examinations is $130. An application of $300 must also be paid at the beginning of the application. Afterwards, a license fee of $600 must be paid biennially. Additionally, there are also financial capacity requirements that must be met before the applicant can be given a license. If the applicant applies for a financial limit of more than $250,000, he must submit a commercial statement which in turn will be evaluated and audited by a CPA.

Plumbing License

Obtaining a plumbing license in Nevada under Classification C-1 allows the contractor to work on projects related to all the sub-classifications under it. This includes installation of fire sprinkler systems, installation of pipes and boilers, fittings for chimneys, and insulation, among others. The applicant must possess at least four (4) years of experience as a journeyman contractor, and attendance in university may be considered as an equivalent experience upon proper evaluation by the State Board. Professional references from four (4) individuals who have personally supervised the applicants’ work are required and subject to verification. Upon meeting these requirements, the applicant is eligible to take the General Business and Law Examination and the trade examination. The composition of the General Business and Law Examination is as follows:

  • Financial Management: 12 items
  • Licensing: 10 items
  • Estimating and Bidding: 7 items
  • Tax Laws: 5 items
  • Labor Laws: 5 items
  • Lien Law: 3 items
  • Project Management: 3 items
  • Risk Management: 4 items
  • Environmental Safety: 5 items
  • Contract Knowledge: 6 items

General rules apply to the aforementioned examination. A calculator may be brought in the premises for the examination, and the applicant may bring a copy of the Construction Business and Law Manual for Nevada. Supplements to the book like post-it notes must be detached for the duration of the exam. For the trade examination, the applicant must be able to answer eighty (84) out of 120 items correctly within 5 hours to pass it. The exam will be composed of the following topics:

  • Drain, Vents, and Waste: 10 items
  • Traps and Interceptors: 8 items
  • Water Supply: 8 items
  • Isometric Examination/Plumbing Mathematics: 8 items
  • Gas Systems: 8 items
  • Hangers and Support: 5 items
  • Boilers: 4 items
  • Cleanouts: 4 items
  • Fixtures and Apparatus: 4 items
  • Hydronics: 3 items
  • Venting and Heating for Water: 6 items
  • Piping, Valves, and Controls: 3 items
  • Sheet Metal: 3 items
  • Backflow: 4 items
  • Safety Information: 5 items
  • Joints and Connections: 4 items
  • Knowledge on Solar Technology: 4 items
  • General Plumbing Necessities: 7 items
  • Fire Sprinklers: 5 items
  • Storm Drainage:3 items
  • Industrial Piping: 3 items
  • Breathing Systems for Firefighters: 3 items
  • Chilled Water Piping: 6 items

PSI Exams allows applicants to bring and use some reference materials for the examination. Like with the General Business and Law Examination, attachments to the materials such as post-it notes must be removed for the duration of the examination. The following materials are allowed into the testing centers:

An application fee of $300 must be paid, in addition to the $130 examination fee for the two (2) tests. For renewal, the licensed contractor must pay $600 biennially. Additionally, residential contractor must also pay $200 $1000 for the Residential Recovery Fund.

Roofing Licenses

Under Classification C-15, roofing licenses are regulated by the State Board of Contractors in Nevada. This license allows the contractor to pursue projects related to the fitting, repair, and modification of roofing and all its materials such as tar, felt, aluminum, tile, or photovoltaic roofs. He can also waterproof such material and add siding and insulation for buildings. The trade examination is composed of sixty (60) questions; to pass entails getting forty-five (45) correct answers within two (2) hours. The questions will be on the following general topics:

  • Steep or Vertical Roofing: 16 items
  • Siding: 8 items
  • Roofing Substrates: 8 items
  • Safety: 5 items
  • Roofing Maintenance and Repair: 4 items
  • Elastomeric Roofing: 7 items
  • Built-up Bituminous Roofing: 7 items
  • Sheet Metal and Flashing: 3 items
  • Photovoltaic Systems: 2 items

Applicants may bring the following references (without attachments) with them while they are taking the exam. Remember, these materials will not be provided by the testing center so make sure to procure your own copy.

As with the other licensing categories, the applicant must also be able to pass the Business Management and Law Examination, which is composed of the following questions:

  • Financial Management: 12 items
  • Licensing: 10 items
  • Estimating and Bidding: 7 items
  • Tax Laws: 5 items
  • Labor Laws: 5 items
  • Lien Law: 3 items
  • Project Management: 3 items
  • Risk Management: 4 items
  • Environmental Safety: 5 items
  • Contract Knowledge: 6 items

General Contractors License in Nevada

Requirements for General Contractors are more or less the same with the other specialty licenses. Before being considered, an applicant must be able to meet the following requirements:

  • Payment of $300 for application processing, and an additional $600 to be paid biennially if the application is accepted.
  • Four (4) certifications from present/former employers attesting to the knowledge and experience of the applicant.
  • Payment to be transmitted to the Residential Recovery Fund (amount will depend on the Board’s Assessment.
  • Proof that the applicant enjoys Industrial Insurance and has met the bond requirement.
  • Submission of Financial Statement (click here for details)

For Classification A, otherwise known as the General Engineering license, the applicant must pass the trade exam composed of 100 question. The applicant must obtain at least 70% correct answers within three (3) hours. The composition of the exam is as follows:

  1. Familiarity with Concrete: 14 items
  2. Liquid Fuel and Gas Piping: 12 items
  3. Excavation, Compaction, and Grading: 12 items
  4. Sewerage: 4 items
  5. Water and Piping: 11 items
  6. Familiarity with Paving: 12 items
  7. Safety Knowledge: 7 items
  8. Steel Knowledge: 6 items
  9. Piles: 4 items
  10. Traffic Control: 3 items
  11. Welding: 6 items
  12. NV One-Call: 3 items
  13. Electrical Transmission Lines: 6 items

The following materials may be brought into the premises of the testing area, but must not include any attachments like post-it notes and other papers.

For Classification B, also known as the General Building license, the trade exam is composed of 80 questions. To pass, the applicant must attain at least 56 correct answers within 3 hours. The following topics are included in the exam:

  1. Plan Reading and Estimating: 12 items
  2. Familiarity with Concrete: 12 items
  3. Sitework: 6 items
  4. Metals: 12 items
  5. Thermal and Humidity Protection: 9 items
  6. Masonry: 6 items
  7. Carpentry: 7 items
  8. Windows and Doors: 4 items
  9. Drywall and Textures: 4 items
  10. Safety Knowledge: 5 items
  11. Nevada One Call: 3 items

Again, there are materials which are approved by the PSI that can be brought into the testing area by the applicant. However, do not attach post-it notes or other materials as they are prohibited. Calculators that are non-programmable are also allowed in the testing area.

In addition to their respective trade or specialty examinations, applicants for the general contractors license must also pass the General Business and Law Examination.

Biggest cities in Nevada

Clark County

Clark County is home to Las Vegas and is also the largest urban agglomeration in Nevada in terms of population. To obtain an electrical license here, an applicant must satisfactorily complete the Pearson VUE computer-based examination. The examination costs $100, and is composed questions and problems on the following topics:

  1. Motors and Generator Equipment: 6 items
  2. Service Apparatus: 11 items
  3. General Understanding of Electrical Concepts: 6 items
  4. Feeders: 4 items
  5. Special Occupancies, Paraphernalia, and Conditions: 11 items
  6. Branch Circuits and Conductors: 19 items
  7. Equipment and Devices: 13 items
  8. Control Devices: 4 items
  9. Wiring Methods and Materials: 26 items

The National Electrical Code (2011) and any edition of Ugly’s Electrical Reference can be consulted during the exam. If the applicant passes the exam, he is required to obtain one to three continuing education units of for a period of three years, depending on the type of electrical license he holds.

City of Reno

Based on the guidelines released in 2016, the City Council of Reno has mandated the requirement of obtaining a plumbing or electrician’s certification from the city government before being able to work on projects related to the aforementioned professions.

The following are the requirements that applicants must meet to obtain their license (applies to both plumbing and electrical license)

  • Completion of any city-authorized apprenticeship program under the direct command of a professional licensed under the laws of the State of Nevada.
  • Obtain passing marks in the trade exam to be conducted by the National Inspection Testing Certification (for plumbers) and the ICC/Pearson Vue (for electricians)
  • Payment of $10 as application fee.

Typically, homeowners working on minor renovations and out-of-state professionals who have yet to obtain the local license but have already informed the city government of their intent to obtain one, are exempt from these guidelines.

Nevada Contractors License Reciprocity

License reciprocity refers to bilateral arrangements that states have that recognize the licensing qualifications of each other. For example, a reciprocity agreement for general contractors between Nevada and California means that certain requirements are waived, allowing a contractor from Nevada to obtain projects in California, and vice-versa. Usually, the waived requirement is the trade or specialty examination. Generally, Nevada has reciprocity agreements with states whose method and rigor of obtaining a license is similar or at par with its own policies. In addition, the applicant must prove that he has been licensed for the last four (4) years, and has passed his specialty exam in his home state.

The following is the list of active reciprocity agreements Nevada has for 2018:

  1. Alabama – General Building, Residential and Small Commercial
  2. Arizona – General Engineering, General Building, Residential and Small Commercial, Plumbing and Heating, Electrical, Masonry, Floors, Elevators, Carpentry Maintenance and Minor Repairs, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Steel and Aluminum Erection, Installation of Pumps and Well Drilling, Fire Protection
  3. CaliforniaGeneral Engineering, General Building, Residential and Small Commercial, Plumbing and Heating, Painting, Sign Contractor, Concrete, Carpentry, Glass and Glazing, Floors, Masonry, Steel Reinforcing and Erection, Landscape Contracting, Tiling, Fencing Contracting, Well Drilling, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Fire Protection
  4. ConnecticutElectrical, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Fire Protection, Elevators
  5. Florida – General Building, Electrical, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Plumbing and Heating, Residential and Small Commercial
  6. Hawaii – General Engineering, General Building, Carpentry, Concrete, Sign Erection, Painting, Elevators, Residential and Small Commercial, Landscape Contracting, Floors, Plastering and Lathing, Masonry, Well Drilling, Tiling
  7. Louisiana – General Building, Landscape Contracting, Electrical, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, Tiling, Steel Reinforcement and Erection, Plastering and Lathing, Masonry, Roofing and Siding
  8. New Mexico – General Building, General Engineering, Plastering and Lathing, Masonry, Concrete
  9. North CarolinaGeneral Building, Electrical, Steel Reinforcement and Erection, Masonry
  10. South Carolina – General Building, Masonry, Glass and Glazing
  11. Tennessee – General Building, Electrical, Plumbing and Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
  12. UtahGeneral Engineering, General Building, Electrical, Sign Erection, Landscape Contracting, Electrical, Residential and Small Commercial, Plumbing and Heating,
  13. West Virginia – General Engineering, General Building, Masonry, Landscape Contracting, Electrical