Ohio Contractor Licenses

This comprehensive guide provides the requirements and procedures needed to obtain a contractor’s license in the state of Ohio.

It also contains a detailed guide on different local city requirements as documented in each locality’s website. We took all the necessary steps to ensure that all the information documented here is complete and accurate.

The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB) is strict in enforcing and carrying out its licensure duties and responsibilities, as defined in the Division of Industrial Compliance guidelines.

The Advantages of Getting a Contractor’s License

The most obvious advantage of holding a contractor’s license, of course, is that it offers opportunities to earn more money. With that amount of financial freedom, you can live comfortably and secure your family’s future. Getting a contractor’s license in Ohio takes time and hard work, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Being a licensed contractor comes with many advantages, including:

  • Being able to own your own professional construction firm
  • Have other contractors work for you
  • Have more flexible working hours
  • Work independently
  • Opportunities to bid on more profitable projects
  • Become a respected professional in your community

Considering the fact that the construction industry is the largest market in the United States (about $15 GMP), being a contractor is not a bad career choice to make.

Ohio is a bustling business hub for the construction industry

There’s a long list of Fortune 500 construction companies that are continually pumping money into the state’s economy. As such, there’s a wide range of employment opportunities for contractors who want to carve a career path in the booming construction business.

Below are the biggest companies that provide construction workers with employment opportunities:

  • American Electric Company, Columbus
  • FirstEnergy Corp, Akron
  • Gilbane Building Co.
  • Drake Construction Co.

Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License

If you’re a homeowner who needs the services of a contractor, it can be tempting to go the DIY route or to hire contractors who offer their services at a cheaper rate.

But beware. Your efforts to save you money may cost you more in the long run. Hiring an unlicensed contractor has many attendant risks that you must avoid at all costs

Homeowners are likely to get the short end of the stick when entering into a business transaction with an unlicensed contractor because they’re not usually aware of the risks involved.  As such, they don’t bother to do background checks after hiring someone who claims to be licensed. More often than not, they end up regretting it.

Why?

First off, unlicensed contractors are not required to pay licensing fees and bond fees. It is for this reason why they can afford to charge lower rates in the first place. But there are risks and costs involved. Without bond coverage, a homeowner won’t be protected from financial loss if the contractor fails to meet the requirements of the contract. If you hire an unlicensed person and he injures himself while doing work at your home, guess who pays for their injuries? The answer, of course, is you. An unlicensed contractor also has the tendency to deviate from building codes, which can put your home or business at risk when calamities hit.

Hiring a licensed contractor, on the other hand, protects you from such damages or losses.

There are no two ways about it. If you want to protect yourself from any untoward incidents or financial setbacks, you must hire a licensed contractor, even for the simple fact that they’re qualified for the job.

Ohio Contractor License Search and Lookup

To ensure that you’re hiring contractors with a valid license, you can verify their credentials by doing a search via OCILB’s eLicense Center page.

Just specify the License Type, the credential number, the business name, and other information. If the name of the person you hired shows up, you may proceed with the transaction. But if it doesn’t, then you’re better off seeking help from someone else.

The database covers all the different licenses that are issued at state-level, including electrical, HVAC, hydronics, plumbing and refrigeration.

How to Obtain a Contractor’s License in Ohio

Commercial contractors who are looking to acquire a state license for specialized trades such as electrical, hydronics, plumbing, and refrigeration must meet the following requirements before applying.

  • Be 18 years old and above
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a legal alien (you must provide documents proving legal alien status)
  • Has performed work in the relevant trade for a minimum of five years prior to the date of the application OR be a registered engineer in the state for a minimum of three years in the trade for which you are applying a license for. (attach W-2’s and at least one permit for each five-year period and the license number of the contractor you worked for).
  • Has never been convicted of a disqualifying offense as defined in S.B. 337.
  • Take and pass the trade exams
  • Carry the minimum $500,000 contractor liability insurance coverage.
  • Settle all applicable fees

Note that your application must be notarized.

Your contractor license application will be reviewed by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

The OCILB reviews applications during the first week of February, April, June, August, October, and December. As such, your application must be received before the 20th of the month.

Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Industrial Compliance
Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB)
6606 Tussing Road
P.O. Box 4009
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-9009
Phone (614) 644-3493

After the board approves your application, you will be required to undergo a State and Federal Background Check before being allowed to take the trade exam. Your data will be transferred to The Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to determine if you have a criminal record. BCI will then send the background report to OCILB.

To determine the WebCheck location in your locale, please visit this link.

Steps for Completing the Test Application Packet

The Board will review your application to determine your eligibility to take the exam. The results of the review will be sent to you by mail. Once approved, you will be required to undergo a BCI and an FBI background check before being allowed to sit for the exam.

The Bulletin contains detailed information on how to get an appointment for the exam. Exams are conducted at sites throughout Ohio.

Mail the completed and notarized test application packet along with supporting documents plus $25 check payable to the OCILB.

You need to submit the following requirements to receive a state license

  • Copy of exam results
  • $25 check payable to “Treasurer, State of Ohio”
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance (liability insurance and license must be assigned to a “contracting company” as defined in Ohio Revised Code 4740.01 Section C)
  • Completed and notarized test application packet

Warning: You must remove and redact ALL Social Security Numbers.

Submit to:

Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Industrial Compliance
Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB)
6606 Tussing Road
P.O. Box 4009
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-9009

Phone (614) 644-3493

Warning: Incomplete applications may experience some delay. Include your email address to ensure that the board can contact you should there be issues with your application.

Plumbing Contractors

Plumbing is a trade that requires extensive skills. You need to have amazing dexterity, good problem-solving skills, high mechanical aptitude, and an ability to endure working in cramped spaces, among many others.

To apply for a plumbing contractor’s license, you need to meet the general requirements set by the OCILB, as mentioned in the third section of this article (How to Obtain a Contractor’s License).

Applicants for a plumbing contractor license must take and pass the Business & Law exam and the trade exam.

Plumbing License Exams

The plumbing license exam has 100 questions covering the following topics:

  • General Knowledge – 8
  • General Regulations – 20
  • Plumbing Fixtures – 6
  • Water Supply Systems – 10
  • Drainage, Waste and Sanitary Vents – 24
  • Indirect Waste – 4
  • Roof Drain Piping – 3
  • Specialty Plumbing – 5
  • Isometric Analysis – 20

The exam has a duration of 4 hours. While the exam is open-book, you’re not allowed to highlight or make notes of any sort in your books. You must pay an exam fee of $69.

License Renewal:  Licenses must be renewed annually.  You must complete 10 hours of approved continuing education to renew your plumber contractor license.

Plumbing Contractor License Lookup

Plumbing contractor licenses can be also be looked up through OCILB.

Electrical Contractors

An electrical contractor’s scope of work includes the repair, maintenance, and installation of electrical wiring and equipment. To be a successful electrician, you need to have the skills required to use power tools, have a keen attention to detail, the ability to focus for long periods of time, and an aptitude for mechanical work, among other skills.

Do you want to be a licensed electrical contractor? If so, you need to meet the general requirements set by the OCILB (see Section 3).

Electrical License Exam

You need to take and pass the Master Electrician Exam and the Business & Law exam to obtain an electrical contractor license. The open-book exam comprises 100 questions and has a duration of 4 hours. You need to get a minimum score of 70% to pass the exam. The exam fee is $69.

The exam will cover the following topic areas:

  • General Electrical Knowledge 10
  • Transformers and Equipment 12
  • Service Feeders and Branch Circuits 16
  • Raceways, Boxes, and Panelboards 10
  • Conductors and Cables 12
  • Control Devices 8 Motors and Generators 12
  • Utilization Equipment 8
  • Special Occupancies and Equipment 12

To view the Candidate Information Bulletin, go to this link.

Electrical Contractor License Lookup

Electrical licenses can be also be looked up through OCILB.

HVAC License

The exam to obtain an HVAC license in Ohio consists of 100 questions, is open book with a minimum requirement of 70% to pass. You have 240 minutes in total. These are the different aspects of the exam:

  • Air conditioning
  • Air ducts systems
  • Connectors
  • General knowledge
  • Heating systems
  • inspections
  • Operation procedures, maintenance and repairs
  • Piping systems
  • Refrigeration
  • Special equipment and appliances
  • Testing
  • Ventilation and exhaust systems
  • Warm air and heating distribution

HVAC License Lookup

You can lookup HVAC licenses through OCILB.

Hydronics Contractors

While the term ‘Hydronics’ is unfamiliar to most people, the technology is considered a fixture in our daily lives. Hydronics, to put it simply, is a branch of technology that relies on the liquid heat-transfer medium in processing heating and cooling systems.

The duties of a Hydronics contractor include the operation, construction, installation, repair, and maintenance of any steam and hot-water heating or chilled-water refrigeration system.

Those who wish to obtain a Hydronics contractor license must go through the qualification process documented in the third section of this article.

Hydronics License Exam

You must take and pass the Business & Law exam and the trade exam to obtain a Hydronics license. The PSI-administered and open book exam comprises of 50 questions and has a 2.5-hour limit. You must acquire a minimum score of 70% to pass the exam. The exam fee is $69.

The exam will cover the following topics:

  • General Knowledge 16
  • Heating Equipment 10
  • Piping, Pumps, and Valves 10
  • Fuel Gas and Oil 1
  • Venting 5
  • Controls 5
  • Tests and Inspections 3
  • Pretest Items 2

You can obtain more information about the Hydronics License exam by going through the Candidate Information Bulletin.

Refrigeration Contractors

A refrigeration contractor is responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing refrigeration systems.

Applicants who wish to become a licensed refrigeration contractor in Ohio have to meet the general requirements set by the OCILB. For the complete requirements and procedures, please refer to the third section of this article.

Refrigeration Contractor Exam

You must pass the Business & Law exam and the Refrigeration Contractor Exam to become a licensed refrigeration contractor in Ohio. The exam consists of 60 questions and has a time duration of 3 hours. You need to obtain a score of at least 70% to pass. You have to pay an exam fee of $69.

The Ohio refrigeration contractor exam will cover the following topics:

  • General Knowledge & Requirements 18
  • Refrigeration Piping 12
  • Refrigerants 6
  • Refrigeration Systems & Controls 15
  • Testing & Inspection 90
  • Pretest Items 10

For more information about the Ohio refrigeration contractor exam, please visit the Candidate Information Bulletin.

General Contractor License Ohio

The general contractors do not have a state-regulated license, so the specific requirements are determined by each city. In the city of Columbus, the requirements for obtaining a general contractor license includes that you’re at least 18, that you’re legally allowed to work in the US and that you have no less than three years of experience in the construction of one to three-family dwellings with an unrestricted license. The alternative is at least one year of experience with a limited license.

Biggest Cities

Each city in Ohio has its own licensure requirements for hiring contractors for general contracting work. This section details the requirements and procedures for obtaining the relevant contractor license in each locality.

City of Columbus

Columbus

Pursuant to the Columbus City Code, the Department of Building and Zoning Services issues licenses and registrations to contractors who wish to perform their trade in the city. As such, all contractors who wish to render their services within the city limits are required to obtain the relevant license and registration to get a permit.

The City of Columbus issues licenses to two types of building contractors: General contractor and home improvement contractor.

General Contractor

Registered and licensed general contractors in the City of Columbus have the following scope of work:

  • Construction of new structures or buildings
  • Structural changes and repairs to commercial or multi-tenant dwellings and accessory structures or buildings
  • Coordination, modification, or repair of existing 1, 2, and 3 family dwellings.

Basic Requirements for a General Contractor License

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Be a U.S. citizen or a national, lawful permanent resident or an alien with an authorization to work in the U.S.
  3. Should have:
  • At least three full years of relevant work experience in the construction trade for 1, 2, or 3 family dwellings for an unrestricted license, OR
  • At least one full year of relevant experience for a limited license

To secure a general contractor registration, applicants are required to submit the following

Note: You will be required to pay a registration fee of $350. Registration fee is only $200 for applicants who hold an active license or registration with the Department of Building & Zoning Services (contact customer service at 614 645-6090 for more details).

Payments must be made by hand or by physical mail to:

Contractor Registration

City of Columbus Department of Building and Zoning Services

111 N Front Street Columbus, Ohio 43215

If payment is in the form of a check, please send to Columbus City Treasurer.

For more information, you can contact the City of Columbus’ Department of Building and Zoning Services through their website.

Home Improvement Contractor

A home improvement contractor is responsible for the repair, alteration, conversion, replacement, improvement, or addition to any land or building that is used as a private residence or dwelling place for a maximum of 3 families.

Home improvement contractors with a limited license are authorized to do the following:

Applicants for a home improvement license in the City of Columbus must meet the following requirements to become eligible:

  • Minimum of 3 years of work experience in hands-on installation in the 1, 2, and 3 family dwelling improvement field.
  • Must have a grade of at least 70% in the Ohio Home Improvement Contractor exam.

For more information about the exam, please contact ICC at  (877) 783-3926 or visit the ICC website; For study references, visit the Contractor/Trades Examination Bulletin on the ICC website.

To get scheduled for an exam, please visit this link. Select ICC Contractors Non-Authorized, then enter 767 to locate the exam.

Applicants for a limited home improvement contractor license in the City of Columbus are required to meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least one year of hands-on experience in the home improvement trade, -OR-
  • Be a home improvement engineer in the state of Ohio or a graduate engineer with at least one year of experience as a designer or installer in the home improvement trade.

Applicants are required to submit the following to secure a home improvement contractor registration:

You’re also required to pay a board application fee of $185.

The payment must be paid in person or by mail to:

City of Columbus
Department of Building and Zoning Services
111 N Front Street Columbus, Ohio 43215

If payment is in the form of a check, send to Columbus City Treasurer.

For more information, go to this link or call the Customer Service Center at (614) 645-6090.

City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati

The City of Cincinnati requires all contractors who wish to perform work within the city limits to apply for a contractor registration for the applicable trade.

Applicants can register for one of the following categories:

  • Home Improvement
  • Building Construction Contractor
  • OCILB Contractor

Home Improvement Contractor

Contractors whose scope of work involves the repair, remodeling, alteration, improvement, or addition to any building used as a private residence in one, two, and three family structures are required to register on a city level before they can perform their trade in the City of Cincinnati.

OCILB Licensed Specialty Contractors

These are contractors who are licensed on a state level through the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board in the following specializations:

  • Electrical contractor
  • Plumbing contractor
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor
  • Hydronic contractor
  • Refrigeration contractor

Building Construction Contractor

Construction jobs not covered in the previous description fall under this category, including the construction of new one, two, and three family dwellings. Crane operations, demolition, carpentry, masonry, and glazing also fall under this category.

Contractor Registration Requirements

Contractor Registration Application

Assignment of Registration:

  • Submit a completed, signed Contractor Registration Assignment/Authorized Signer Form if registration is assigned to a business concern.
  • Additional signature sheets signed by persons indicated on the assignment form.

Income Tax Contractor Application:

  • Include Federal Taxpayer ID Number if registration is assigned to a business concern or responsible party’s Social Security Number.
  • Certificate of Liability Insurance (for New and Renewal Contractor Registrants)
  • Crane Equipment and Personnel Lists
  • Proof of Ohio Workers’ Compensation coverage (if applicable)
  • Copy of State License if OCILB
  • Registered Contractor Sub List

Contractor Registration Fee:

  • Total fee is $130 per year for up to three years (Initial registration fee is $125 + 3% technology surcharge & 1% financial recovery fee)
  • Additional fee of $208 if Same Day Processing Service is availed
  • Licenses can be renewed for up to three years at $130 per year
  • Additional Fees: $78 late fee, reactivation fee of $130 a year (for contractor registration licenses not renewed within 30 days following expiration date)
  • Changes to an issued Registration: $78 fee

*Do you have any other questions or concerns about the contractor registration process? Please visit the Cincinnati Contractor Registration FAQ document.

Asbestos Abatement

Doing asbestos abatement work in Ohio requires that you are certified and licensed by the Ohio Department of Health to ensure the dangerous material is handled safely. There are different classifications that you need to look into to ensure you’re sufficiently certified and licensed.

  • Asbestos hazard abatement worker: A person in a non-supervisory capacity responsible removing or repairing areas with asbestos.
  • Asbestos hazard abatement specialist: Responsible for oversight of the work performed.
  • Asbestos hazard evaluation specialist: Responsible for Detection, identification and assessment.
  • Asbestos hazard project designer
  • Hazard abatement air-monitoring technician: Environmental monitoring and air-sampling

Certificates and licenses are obtained by contacting the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Ohio EPA Contact Information:
Asbestos Program
Ohio EPA, DAPC
50 W. Town St., Suite 700
Columbus, OH 43215
Telephone: (614) 466-0061
Fax: (614) 564-2481

E-mail: [email protected]

You can also apply for an asbestos certification online instead of filling out a hard copy form, and you will have the possibility to upload the necessary documents there too.

Cleveland City

Cleveland

The City of Cleveland requires all “service providers” to annually register with the city board and meet all applicable requirements as stipulated in the City Ordinance.

Are you looking to build or rehabilitate homes in Cleveland? Bear in mind that you must be bonded, insured, and registered before you can do so. Contractors specializing in electrical and plumbing are also required to hold a license before performing their trade in the city.

Permit Requirements

Contractors must require a permit from the Department of Building and Housing Division of Construction Permitting before performing any major construction work on a building or a structure in Cleveland.

For a more detailed list, please view City of Cleveland’s Permit Requirements document.

Permit Guide

Permit Guide for Commercial Building, Electrical, HVAC, Plumbing, Contracting, and Residential Work

For more information, you may contact:

Additional Information:

Contractor Registration

City Hall Room 505

216.664.2912

or send email

General Contractor Bureau

216.664.2884

City of Toledo

Toledo

The Division of Building Inspection issues construction trade licenses to contractors who wish to perform building inspections in the city of Toledo. As a state-certified department, the Division is also responsible for enforcing Ohio’s building and mechanical codes.

You can contact the Division through:

Ken A. Fischer, Commissioner

Steven Shrake, Chief Building Official

One Government Center, Suite #1600

Toledo, OH 43604

Phone: 419.245.1220

Fax: 419.245.1329

Contractor Permits, Registration Forms, and Information

Apprentice & Journeyman (Mechanical & Electrical) Registration

Building Construction

HVAC Refrigeration

Plumbing Hydronics

City of Akron

In December 2016, the Akron City Council passed a legislation to make contractor registration mandatory. As such, construction contractors who wish to render their services within the city limits must obtain a contractor registration from the City of Akron Plans and Permits office.

PLANS & PERMITS

1030 E. Tallmadge Ave., Akron, OH  44310

Telephone: 330-375-2010  Fax: 330-375-2102

Email: Plans&[email protected]

Contractors are also required to obtain a permit from either the City of Akron or the State of Ohio prior to performing work in Akron.  Permits inspections are performed by Summit County Department of Building Standards.

1030 E. Tallmadge Ave.

Akron, OH 44310

Ph: 330-630-7280

Fax: 330-630-7296

Website: Summit County Department of Building Standards

Contractors are also required to obtain an Income Tax Registration Number from the City’s Income Tax Division.

You can contact the Income Tax Division through:

1 Cascade Plaza – 11th Floor

Akron OH, 44308

Phone:   330-375-2037

Email:    [email protected]

Fax:      330-375-2456

Dayton

Dayton

Find a list of all the registered electrical, heating, pipe laying and plumbing contractors on this page.

Parma

To do contractor work in Parma, a contractor will need to register with the Building Department according to the information on this page, which includes a lot of different types of work like siding, roofing, waterproofing and more.

Hamilton

Here you can find a list of the different types of contractors in the City of Hamilton.

Contractors License Reciprocity

Are you an out-of-state contractor looking for contracting opportunities in the state of Ohio? If your home state is in a reciprocity agreement with the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board, then you’re in luck.

Reciprocity Agreement? What’s that?

A reciprocity agreement is a contract signed by two states in which a trade license from one state is recognized by the other, and vice versa. In other words, if your home state has entered into a reciprocity agreement with the state of Ohio, you won’t have to go through the state exams before rendering your services.

Below is a list of states that have entered into a reciprocal agreement with the state of Ohio along with the corresponding license types: