2019 South Dakota Contractor Licenses: Requirements, Search/Lookup

Are you planning to get a contractor license in the state of South Dakota? If so, you should know that only three trades are licensed at the state level. Licenses for these trades are handled individually by different offices.

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South Dakota Contractor’s License Board

If you will be doing asbestos-related work, you need to obtain the proper certificates for it. These certificates are issued by the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. This department handles all the applications, as well as the trainings, of asbestos-related work. If you wish to contact the department for any of your concerns, you can do so by reaching out to any of their field offices in the state. Their head office is located at the Joe Foss Building, 523 E Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501 and you may also contact them through phone at (605) 773-3151 and via their fax number (605) 773-6035. Email inquiries may be sent to DENRINTERNET@state.sd.us.

Electrical contractors, on the other hand, must apply for their state-issued license through the South Dakota Electrical Commission. This commission not only regulates and issues electrical contractor license classifications but it also handles trade-related complaints. If you need to reach them in person, you may go to their office, which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor & Regulation of the state.

To get a plumbing contractor license, you need to file your application to the South Dakota Plumbing Commission, which is also under the state’s Department of Labor & Regulation.

For electrical and plumbing licenses concerns, you can reach the Department at 308 Pierre St., Pierre, SD 57501. Otherwise, you can contact them at either (605) 773-3573 or (800) 233-7765, as well as (605) 773-6213 if by fax.

Do you represent a business that is found out of state? If so, you must first obtain a Certificate of Authority that is issued by the Secretary of State of South Dakota. To get this certificate, you need to contact the Corporations office of the Secretary of State, which is headquartered at 500 East Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501, and has the following phone number: (605) 773-4845.

Contractor License Classifications

To start with, who is a contractor? In South Dakota, anyone can be considered an independent contractor as long as he or she has both a business established by himself or herself, as well as have complete control over a construction project without anyone having to supervise him or her.

Only the following trades are issued state-level contractor licenses: asbestos abatement, electrical, and plumbing. For other contractor license classifications, these are issued at the city or county level.

Asbestos Abatement Contractor

Any contractor that does asbestos work, such as asbestos removal, encapsulation, transportation, and disposal, in a public or private building, structure, or facility is considered as an asbestos abatement contractor. This also covers work on other friable materials that have asbestos content, as well as anything that has asbestos fibers that may possibly be released into the environment.

Aside from the asbestos abatement contractor certificate, South Dakota also issues certificates for the following asbestos-related trade:

  • Inspector – does inspections of asbestos abatement projects
  • Asbestos Abatement Worker – anyone employed by a contractor or owner of a facility that does asbestos abatement work that cannot be considered a short-duration and small-scale activity
  • Asbestos Abatement Supervisor – a person that oversees the tasks of workers of any abatement project involving asbestos
  • Management Planner – deals with the development of facility plans that comply with AHERA, or the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, in order to manage materials that contain asbestos
  • Abatement Project Designer – is in charge of making plans and developing asbestos abatement projects

Due to the nature of work, the Department has created a brochure that you and your client can read to know about the proper handling of asbestos in the state, which you can access here: https://denr.sd.gov/des/wm/asb/Documents/AsbestosBrochure08.pdf. You need to strictly follow safety rules when it comes to dealing with asbestos, since it is responsible for the deaths of a number of people each year.


South Dakota also regulates the issuance of licenses when it comes to the electrical trade. To get the electrical license you want, you need to know that it follows a succession order. Anybody that wants to get licensed on this trade must begin as an Apprentice or 501(d) Electrician. After fulfilling the required apprenticeship experience, you can then apply for the Journeyman exam, which will then let you be eligible to take either the Electrical Contractor or Class B exam after also meeting the required experience as a Journeyman Electrician. Aside from those, the Commission also issues licenses for Maintenance Electricians. You can refer to the list below to understand each license classification

  • Apprentice Electrician– someone who is wants to study and acquire the necessary skills of the electrical trade, but is required to be overseen and employed by a licensed Electrical Contractor, Class B Electrician, or Journeyman Electrician. An Apprentice Electrician may also be guided by a 501(d) electrician
  • 501(d) Electrician – is limited to working on wirings of properties classified as 501(d) in the state
  • Journeyman Electrician – has the skills, training, and at least four years of experience that allows him or her to work on electrical equipment, in terms of their installation, repair, and wiring
  • Class B electrician – similar to a Journeyman Electrician but the required experience is much less, at thirty-six months
  • Electrical Contractor – anyone that has obtained the required technical knowledge, experience, training, and skills that allows him or her to work independently and oversee various electrical work. This includes the maintenance and installation of wirings and electrical apparatus and equipment used for heat, power, and light, as well as their planning and lay out
  • Maintenance Electrician – is employed by a business that has a maintenance electrician’s license that does various electrical work


The licenses issued by the Plumbing Commission are not limited to the plumbing trade per se. They issue contractor, journeyman, installer, and apprentice licenses for various trades related to or that use plumbing systems. There are four general categories for the plumbing license:

  • Apprentice – employed by a contractor with a valid plumbing license and is overseen by one while studying how to install plumbing systems. The apprentice also acts as an assistant while working on the trade
  • Journeyman – must have initially worked as an apprentice and has obtained the necessary skills, knowledge, and training in terms of plumbing work
  • Contractor – someone who has both the skills and experience required to plan and install plumbing systems, as well as the familiarity with the state’s rules and laws involving the trade. Contractors are also allowed to do related business
  • Installer – anyone skilled to install plumbing systems, both new and in connection to existing ones

You can also check out the full list of plumbing licenses issued by the Commission below:

  • Plumbing – covers work on public water supply systems, storm and sanitary drainage facilities, and ventilation systems, including their fixtures, piping, and related equipment. Licenses issued are Plumber’s Apprentice, Journeyman Plumber, and Plumbing Contractor
  • Sewer and Water – includes work on piping of water treatment plants, water purification equipment, chemical and sewer treatment, and sewage treatment apparatus, including equipment and piping repairs. You can be licensed as a Sewer and Water Apprentice, Sewer and Water Installer, or Sewer and Water Contractor
  • Appliance – deals with various apparatuses, including those for commercial use, that connect to waste and water systems and use gas, electricity, or both in order to function. The related plumbing licenses are Appliance Apprentice, Appliance Installer, and Appliance Contractor
  • Water Conditioning – covers the Water Conditioning Apprentice, Water Conditioning Installer, and Water Conditioning Contractor licenses
  • Mobile Home – licenses available for this trade are Mobile Home Apprentice, Mobile Home Installer, and Mobile Home Contractor
  • Underground Irrigation – involves installation and maintenance work on plumbing for underground that connect to a locally available source of potable water. You can get licensed as an Underground Irrigation Apprentice, Underground Irrigation Installer, or Underground Irrigation Contractor

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

Acquiring state-level licenses in South Dakota may seem daunting to you but it really is a straightforward process. You just need to meet their requirements, including taking required training courses, passing examinations, and having adequate experience, and fill out the necessary forms. Make sure that you are at least 18 years of age before applying for any of these licenses. Note that these licenses and certificate expire but can be renewed.

Asbestos Abatement Certificate

To get an Asbestos Abatement Certificate, whether as a Contractor, Inspector, Worker, Supervisor, Project Designer, or Management Planner, you need to fill out the same form, which can be found at https://denr.sd.gov/des/wm/asb/Documents/E0412V2-AsbestosCertification.pdf, as well as take the required examinations. However, anyone doing asbestos work that is considered small-scale and short duration no longer need a certificate.

Aside from indicating your relevant experience, you also need to present copies of your diploma that proves that you have taken sufficient and relevant training courses related to the asbestos abatement certificate you are applying for. Make sure that you take training courses that approved by the state or an EPA. You may check this website to see the relevant training courses that the state recognizes: https://sdlegislature.gov/Rules/DisplayRule.aspx?Rule=74:31:03. You can also find the list of accredited providers for the asbestos training courses in the state at https://denr.sd.gov/des/wm/asb/Documents/AsbestosTrainingCourseProviders.pdf.

Each application costs $100, which means that you can apply for multiple certificates at the same time and still pay $100. However, employees and supervisors who will do asbestos work while employed by a municipality, state, county, or any similar political sector are exempted from paying the application fee if they are acquiring it as part of their official work. Certificates are valid for one year plus one day after passing the examinations.

Electrical Trade License

Succession rules apply for any license in the electrical trade. This means that you need to start first as an Apprentice or 501(d) Electrician in the state and gain necessary experience before applying for the other licenses. In order to qualify for the licenses and the required examinations for them, you need to meet the following minimum experience:

  • Journeyman – at least 8,000 hours or four years of supervised electrical work as an Apprentice or 501(d) electrician
  • Class B Electrician – also requires experience as a Journeyman Electrician for a minimum of 2 years, including 1 year spent on wirings for farmstead and residential property, under the guidance of either an Electrical Contractor or a Class B Electrician
  • Electrical Contractor – a minimum of 2 years’ worth of Journeyman Electrician experience while working as an employee of an Electrical Contractor. Also, he or she must have worked on commercial wiring for a year or more during that timeframe. For a Class B electrician applying for the contractor license, he or she must have also worked with commercial wirings for a year or more

The application form for all licenses under the electrical trade is uploaded at https://dlr.sd.gov/electrical/forms/license_app_general.pdf. However, the license for a Maintenance Electrician is separate and can be found at https://dlr.sd.gov/electrical/forms/license_app_maintenance.pdf and the one for Apprentice Electricians is at https://dlr.sd.gov/electrical/forms/license_app_apprentice.pdf.

The application fee for these licenses, save for the Apprentice Electrician and those obtained via the reciprocity agreement since they are free of charge, costs $40. The license fees, as well as those acquired using license reciprocity agreements, also cost $40. However, this excludes Electrical Contractor licenses, which cost $100 (except for the Inactive Electrical Contractor license), and the Apprentice license that requires a payment of $20. Any electrical trade license expires during even years, specifically on June 30, and it takes 30 days on average to process the application.

You are also required to take the trade examinations in relation to your license application. To pass, you need to get a score of 70% or higher in any of those exams. This requirement is waived only if you are just applying for an Apprentice Electrician License.

Bonds are also required, but only for Electrical Contractors and Class B Electricians. The bond costs $10,000 and you also need to accomplish this form: https://dlr.sd.gov/electrical/forms/bond_app.pdf.

Plumbing Trade Licenses

To be qualified, you need to have the following minimum experience for each of the plumbing license classifications:

  • Plumber Apprentice – only required to fill out the application form and have a licensed plumbing contractor overseeing his or her work. But you may be permitted to do unsupervised work as a Plumber Apprentice on single-family residences during your third and fourth year but only if you either pass the examination or have been educated and assisted in installing, repairing, and modifying plumbing systems while guided by a Plumbing Contractor for a minimum of 3,800 hours or 2 years.
  • Journeyman Plumber – a minimum experience of four years, with a minimum of 1,900 hours per year, working as an Apprentice Plumber
  • Plumbing Contractor – must have worked as either a Plumber, Plumber Apprentice, or Plumbing Contractor for six years or more, also with 1,900 hours at minimum per year, and two or more of those years must be spent working as a Plumber or Plumbing Contractor
  • Sewer and Water Apprentice – must be employed by a Sewer and Water Installer
  • Sewer and Water Installer – worked as a Sewer and Water Apprentice for at least two years
  • Sewer and Water Contractor – at least a year spent working as a Sewer and Water Installer
  • Appliance Apprentice – can only worked when supervised by an Appliance Installer
  • Appliance Installer – has experienced being an Appliance Apprentice for a minimum of two years
  • Appliance Contractor – must spend at least a year working as an Appliance Installer
  • Water Conditioning Apprentice – should be employed by a Water Conditioning Installer
  • Water Conditioning Installer – must have worked as a Water Conditioning Apprentice for a minimum of two years
  • Water Conditioning Contractor – worked for a minimum of one year as a Water Conditioning Installer
  • Mobile Home Apprentice – under the employment of a Mobile Home Installer
  • Mobile Home Installer – spent two years or more as a Mobile Home Apprentice
  • Mobile Home Contractor – worked as a Mobile Home Installer for a year or more
  • Underground Irrigation Apprentice – needed to be guided by an Underground Irrigation Installer when working
  • Underground Irrigation Installer – experienced working as an Underground Irrigation Apprentice for two years at minimum
  • Underground Irrigation Contractor – must have spent at least a year working as an Underground Irrigation Installer

All plumbing trade licenses use the same application form, which you can download from https://www.state.sd.us/eforms/secure/eforms/E0258V5-plumbing_license.pdf. The application fees will depend on the plumbing license you are applying for. You can find the list of application fees per license below:

  • Apprentice (all types)- $10
  • Journeyman Plumber – $185
  • Plumbing Contractor – $340
  • Installer (all types) – $155
  • Plumbing Contractor – $340
  • Sewer and Water Contractor – $300
  • Appliance, Water Conditioning, Mobile Home, and Underground Irrigation Contractor – $240

Licenses under the plumbing trade expire yearly, specifically every December 31.

The Advantages of Getting A Contractor License

Are the money and effort spent in getting a contractor license worth it? Definitely! This is because of these major reasons: you are following state’s laws, you have the right to charge higher rates, and you will be able to get more clients with bigger projects.

South Dakota has established laws regarding contractor work and as a law-abiding citizen, it is a must that you follow them. Not following them will obviously have consequences, which range from paying fines to possible filing of criminal charges against you. This also shows that you follow fair labor practices as a contractor and also as the supervisor of your subcontractors and employees.

If you have a contractor license, it proves that you have gained the right knowledge and skills of the trade. This will give you the right to charge higher rates compared to unlicensed contractors, because you have evidence of your skills, which you can use as your bargaining chip when negotiating contracts with your potential clients.

In connection, clients are becoming much more careful when selecting and hiring contractors. This is because they want to save themselves from unnecessary headaches brought about by hiring the wrong people for their projects. As such, they put in the effort to look for licensed contractors and scrutinize their credentials. They are hesitant to hire word-of-mouth contractors that are unlicensed, despite the differences in their rates. This is especially true for projects that cost a lot. Unlicensed contractors, on the other hand, will only attract small-scale projects.

Why Should You Hire a Licensed Contractor?

As a homeowner, you want your home to look its best without going over your budget. In order to accomplish that, make sure to hire only licensed contractors when building your new house or renovating your current one.

Licensed contractors may charge higher compared to contractors without licenses, but you get peace of mind and the assurance that your home that they worked on is not going to crumble any time soon. The proof of their skills is in their licenses, so even if you have yet to see any of their projects, you can be sure that they know what the project entails. Also, you can easily check their credentials with the state.

Make sure to check the credentials of the contractor, as well as all of his or her employees who will do the work. This is because they need to be covered by insurance in case of workplace and work-related accidents. If not, you will have to shoulder the bills that need to be paid if a worker gets into an accident while working on your home.

Homes that might be at risk of crumbling sooner than later. Shouldering the hospital bills of workers that get into accidents, which should have been shouldered by the contractor. These are just some of the risks when you go for contractors without licenses. You don’t want that, do you?

South Dakota Contractor License Search & Lookup

To make sure that a contractor is properly licensed, you can check the records of the state. Fortunately, South Dakota makes it easy for you to do so, as they have an online database You can lookup licenses online by going to https://apps.sd.gov/LD17BTP/licenseelist.aspx. You can also check the licenses and certificates of a contractor by contacting the respective offices that issued the contractor license or certificate. For asbestos abatement certificates, you can send an email to DENRINTERNET@state.sd.us, call (605) 773-3573 or (800) 233-7765 for electrical trade licenses, and (605) 773-3429 for plumbing trade licenses.

Biggest Cities

When it comes to electrical, plumbing, and asbestos work, the state level-licenses and certificates are followed by all cities and counties of the state. For general contracting work, however, licenses may be required by certain cities or counties in South Dakota. This is because these licenses are issued only by those cities or counties, and not at the state-level. Those that do so include Hot Springs, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Brookings, among others.

City of Hot Springs

Will you be working in the City of Hot Springs? You should know that there are five classifications of general contractor licenses available:

  • Class A – for projects that cost $500,000 at maximum
  • Class A2 – if the project cost exceeds $500,000
  • Class B – either sub-contractors that only work on a part of a project and their part costs a quarter of the total project cost or contractors with contracts that cost up to $35,000 only
  • Class C – those who will work on specific projects, namely underground sprinkler systems, paving, HVAC, sheetrock or drywall, and landscaping (including trees)
  • Class TC – exclusively for Trenching Contractors

You need to use the form found at http://www.hs-sd.org/assets/docs/uploads/Planning-Administrator/CONTRACTOR-LICENSE-APPLICATION-.pdf in order to apply for any of these licenses.

Rapid City

Aside from recognizing state-issued licenses, Rapid City also has its own set of contractor license classifications that you need to take note of if you are working in the city. You can check the list below for the type of license that applies to you:

  • Class A –
  • Class B – One & Two-Family Residential Contractor
  • Class R – Residential Roofing Contractor
  • Class S –
  • Class EC – Electrical Contractor
  • Class GA – Gas Fitting Apprentice
  • Class GC – Gas Fitting Contractor
  • Class GF – Gas Fitter
  • Class MA – Mechanical Apprentice
  • Class MAS – Appliance Specialist
  • Class MC – Mechanical Contractor
  • Class MI – Mechanical Installer
  • Class P – Plumber
  • Class PW – Water Softening Contractor
  • Class R –
  • Class S – Sign Contractor/inactive

To get your contractor license in Rapid City, you need to use this form: https://www.rcgov.org/index.php?option=com_docman&view=download&alias=447-building-permits-contractor-license-application&category_slug=building-permits-inspections-information&Itemid=149.

City of Sioux Falls

Even the City of Sioux Falls issues a contractor license for those whose work is limited to residential projects that only involve a maximum of two houses and townhouses. This Residential Building Contractor is only issued after you pass their Construction Supervisor Exam. Contractors who will be eligible for this license after passing the exam must also have a compliance bond of $20,000, as well as general liability insurance of $300,000 at minimum.

City of Aberdeen

Residential Building Contractor licenses are also issued by the City of Aberdeen. In fact, they have their own Residential Contractor Board that will oversee its regulation. If you need to apply for this license, you need to contact the City Hall by calling them at (605) 626-7025.

City of Brookings

When working on projects involving residential property, you need to be issued a Residential Contractor License in the City of Brookings. You must file your application with the City Hall and use this application form: http://www.cityofbrookings.org/DocumentCenter/View/311.

Contractor License Reciprocity

If you are qualified for a contractor license on the basis of license reciprocity agreements, make sure to take advantage of it and apply for your license using that method.

But first of all, what does it mean to have a contractor license reciprocity agreement? This will basically make your life easier when it comes to applying for a license in another state, as long as those states have reciprocity agreements. This is because some requirements, including passing trade examinations, may be waived if your license due to this agreement. So if states A and B have license reciprocity agreements with each other, you can get your license in state B without having to submit every requirement if your license was issued by State A. Fortunately, South Dakota has a number of license reciprocity agreements for various states for both electrical trade and plumber licenses.

Plumbers who got their licenses from any other state can make use of this agreement to obtain the same license in the state, as long as the South Dakota Plumbing Commission considers your plumber license as an equal to the South Dakota plumber license. To check if you qualify, you need to call the Plumbing Commission at (605) 773-3429.

South Dakota-issued electrical trade licenses, on the other hand, have reciprocity agreements with other states but only for Journeyman Electrician and Electrical Contractor licenses. However, the licenses must be active for at least a year and you must have passed the trade examination in the reciprocal state. The licenses and states that can make use of the reciprocity method are:

Make sure to check with the respective license issuing bodies about the specific requirements if you will use the reciprocity method in those states.

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