Texas has its own set of rules when it comes to contractor licenses, and this article will try to cover in as much detail as possible, the different scenarios requiring licenses. Besides having the necessary licenses, you will also be required to have a general business license, insurance and possibly register as an employer unless you simply intend to run a one man shop.
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On this page:
- Contractor License Lookup in Texas
- HVAC Contractor’s Licenses
- Fire Sprinkler Systems Contractor’s License
- Texas Plumbing Licenses
- Electrician’s Licenses
- Reciprocity Agreements With Other States
- Well Drilling/Pump Installation License
- Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Out-of-State Corporations
A lot of other contractors such as general contractors, that you might expect to need a license, will be licensed at the local municipality or county level instead, where each specific area in turn has its own requirements too. It also means it will be more difficult to figure out if the contractor has the necessary permits.
Contractor License Lookup in Texas
Where do you go when you want to lookup the license of a contractor in Texas? On a state level, the contractor licenses are handled by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, and they can easily be contacted at (800) 803-9202. The licenses provided at state level can be checked using the TDLR License Data Search.
There you can look up the licenses related to HVAC, well pumping and drilling, electricians, elevator and mold remediation contractors.
To find the information related to contractor licenses in Houston, visit houstontx.gov. You also need a permit when you are doing work that isn’t simply cosmetic in nature. You can find all the information regarding permits in Houston here.
When wishing to do work in San Antonio, you will need to obtain a license and register in person. You can look up contractor licenses valid in San Antonio through this link. For additional information, visit this website.
Contractors in Dallas can renew their licenses by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with their contractor number, address, contact number, valid certificate of insurance and name or with the following form. More information can be found through the City of Dallas website.
Here is all the information you will need regarding contractor licenses in Austin.
Find the contractor license requirements for El Paso here and use this form to register your company as either a general contractor, electrical contractor, mechanical contractor, electrical sign contractor, plumber, irrigator, fire systems or sign contractor.
HVAC Contractor’s Licenses
Doing HVAC work in Texas requires you to be licensed, and the state actually makes a distinction between “commercial refrigeration and process cooling or heating” and “environmental air conditioning”, meaning there are licenses for both categories. You can get licensed in both categories, or simply in one of them.
In addition, the licenses are split up in class A and class B, which determines the capacity of the unit that you are allowed to work on. Class A license is the most extensive one that does not have any limitations, whereas the Class B license only lets you work on units with up to 1.5 million BTUs per hour and less than 25 tons of cooling.
To do HVAC work in Texas you need to be licensed. To get an application, contact:
Here’s a list of the subjects on each exam and the number of questions on each subject for Class A and Class B:
These subjects will appear in the exam for commercial refrigeration and process cooling and heating:
When you have passed the exam it is time to get the appropriate insurances to be able to start working. Class B licenses require that you have at least insurance covering $200,000 aggregate for completed operations and products, $100,000 aggregate for bodily injury and property damage.
The requirements for Class A licenses are three times the amounts required for Class B licenses.
There are some reciprocity agreements with other states that include Georgia and South Carolina, meaning HVAC licenses from those two states may be used to obtain the necessary licenses in Texas too. This is how you can take advantage of the reciprocity program.
Prior to taking the contractor licensing exams in Texas, you will need to file an application with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. It usually takes TDLR 2-3 weeks to process an application, and you will be informed by letter once your application as been approved.
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
E. O. Thompson State Office Building
P. O. Box 12157
Austin, TX 78711
You can find all the forms related to air conditioning and refrigeration here. There are also certain fees that you need to pay in order to take the exam, which includes a $50 fee to file your application to the TDLR, the fee of the license which is $115 and then every time you need to renew it, which is $65. You can go here when you simply need to renew it.
For either of the tests, you will need 70% correct answers to pass. The class A exam contains 120 questions (230 minutes allowed), while class B contains 100 (170 minutes allowed). PSI, which is the entity that offers the exams charges $75 for class A exams and $60 for class B.
We strongly encourage you to get this course that will help you get ready for the Texas Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Exam which includes test taking tips, instructor support, calculations, practice exams and all the guides that you need to make sure you pass.
Fire Sprinkler Systems Contractor’s License
Working on fire sprinkler systems in Texas requires that you get the relevant licenses. You can find the forms that you need here, and if you have any additional questions, these should be directed to SFMO, the State Fire Marshall’s Office.
|State Fire Marshall’s Office
P. O. Box 149221
Austin, TX 78714-9221
Fax: (512) 918-7107
There are three different types of fire sprinkler licenses in the state of Texas, that include the underground water supply piping, family dwelling and commercial. This is the information that is relevant to each of the different types of licenses, as well as the tests required for each type. The information and the picture was retrieved from the Texas Department of Insurance website.
In order to obtain a license, you will also need to show proof of sufficient insurance, which includes $100,000 for bodily injury and property damage per occurrence with a $300,000 yearly coverage.
Additionally, you need an authority to do business in the state which is provided by the Texas Secretary of State or by the County Clerk. You also need to show good standing with the Texas Comptroller, which is done using a letter of good standing from them.
For each fire sprinkler system contractor, there must be at least one managing employee who has obtained the RME license, or the Responsible Managing Employee license. The license requirements for the three different types of RMEs also have different required exams.
The general RME requires both the Sprinkler Statute & Rules TFM08 exam and the NICET III Layout exam. The underground RME requires the Sprinkler Statute & Rules TFM08 exam and the Sprinkler Underground TFM10 exam.
The exam is administered by PSI and exams can be schedule through this link.
The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) course is required for RMEs in all categories except underground. You can obtain more information on the NICET certificates and their requirements through nicet.org or by contacting them with the information below.
National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
1420 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Here is the more accurate contact information with regards to the different departments.
There are different costs associated with becoming a licensed fire sprinkler systems contractor, including $45 or $60 for exams, which is determined by the need type of exam. The application fee for a certificate is $50. The certificate for the general category will set you back $900, while both the underground and dwelling ones cost $300. The licenses will need to be renewed every two years, and the current fees are as follows.
Information from http://www.tdi.texas.gov/forms/sfmfireindustry/sf040sprkguide.pdf
While not being an official reciprocity program, the SFMO may waive its license requirements for contractors from states where the requirements are fairly similar, although it’s at their mercy to do so.
Texas Plumbing Licenses
To do plumbing work in Texas, you will need a license. There are different types of plumbing licenses in Texas including ones as Responsible Master Plumber, Master Plumber, Journeyman Plumber, Tradesman Plumber-Limited and Plumbing Inspector. Apprentices will also need to be registered. You can read the different requirements for the different licenses by following their respective links.
Any questions you may have should be directed to the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners.
Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners
929 East 41st Street
P. O. Box 4200
Austin, TX 78765-4200
In order to get the plumbing licenses, you will need to pay a fee for handling the application. Once approved, you will be able to take the corresponding exams. For a Master Plumber for example, you will first need to pay a $175 fee to the TSBPE followed by a $75 fee once you have passed the exam in order to get the license.
The exam and application fees vary for the different licenses. These numbers have been retrieved from the individual pages.
|License type||Exam fee||Initial Application Fee||Renewal Fee||Late Renewal Fee (less than 90 days too late)||Late Renewal Fee (more than 90 days too late)|
|Responsible Master Plumber||$345.00||$420.00||$210.00||$420.00|
|Apprentice Registration||$15 (registration)||$15.00||$7.50||$15.00|
The Responsible Master Plumber license is the highest ranking you are able to obtain, and you will need to currently be a Master Plumber to apply for it. To become a Master Plumber you will need to be a Journeyman Plumber and have had that license for 4 or more years. If you have taken an approved training course, the 4 year requirement may be reduced to one year.
While not being a reciprocity program, you may be able to get your Journeyman or Master Plumber license transferred from a different state and have it turned into a Journey Plumber license in Texas.
Responsible Master Plumber
It not only requires good standing with the TSBPE but also that you are currently a Master Plumber. You need to submit proof of commercial liability insurance worth at least $300,000 and take a 24-hour training course approved by TSBPE, unless you had the certificate of insurance already filed in the beginning of 2012. Being in good standing with the TSBPE requires that you pay any amount of money that is currently due as well as any possible penalties.
The Responsible Master Plumber is available to do all the management required, as well as obtaining the necessary permits to do the related work.
Should you wish to drop the RMP title, that is also possible.
There’s an exam needed to be taken in order to become a Master Plumber, as can also be seen by the fee that needs to be paid. With the approved training program, you need one year of experience as a Journeyman Plumber, and otherwise it’s four. With a Master Plumber license from another state you may be able to get the Texan equivalent too.
The Master Plumber is able to do all the different work, although being under the responsibility of the Responsible Master Plumber. The fees can be seen in the chart above.
The exam includes a range of different topics with 210 multiple choice questions. These are the topics covered.
- Liquified Petroleum Gas piping installation
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- Plumbing Codes
- Plumbing Codes, specific to water heater installation
- Plumbing License Law and Board Rules
- Plumbing Related Mathematics
- Texas Accessibility Standards
The hands-on part of the exam includes:
- 1 Drainage System Pipe Sizing chart
- 1 Fuel Gas Piping Sizing chart
- 1 Gas Fueled Appliance Vent Sizing chart
- 1 Water Pipe Sizing chart
- Design of a three story sanitary drainage and vent system for sixteen plumbing fixtures
The exam costs $40, and you need to have a high school diploma or a GED as well as either be a citizen or an otherwise eligible alien.
You are required to have no less than 8,000 hours of experience working in the plumbing trade as an apprentice or as a Tradesman Plumber-Limited and have either completed an approved training program or have completed a 48-hour training course approved by TSBPE.
The journeyman exam also consists of both a written and hands-on part, and these are some of the topics that are covered in it.
- Cross-connections created by back siphonage and backflow
- Law and board rules
- Natural gas systems
- Simple physics
- Terms and definition
- Waste and vent systems
- Water heaters
- Water systems
To become a Tradesman Plumber-Limited you need at least 4,000 hours of experience working with plumbing as an apprentice or be a Journeyman Plumber or Master Plumber licensed in a different state. It also requires you going through a 24-hour training course approved by TSBPE.
The exam costs $55 and requires that you have a high school diploma or GED as well as either being a Master Plumber, Journeyman Plumber, Professional Engineer, Architect, or a otherwise already be a Plumbing Inspector in a different state that has more or less the same requirements. There’s also a minimum requirement of 500 hours of previous experience as well.
Doing electrical work in Texas requires a license, which is issued by TDLR. You can contact them using the information below.
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
TDLR Electricians Program
P.O. Box 12157
Austin, Texas 78711
All the different forms you will need to apply can be found here. There are a lot of different license classes when it comes to electricians in Texas. We will briefly cover the different options below. Each of them have different needed qualifications that you will need to live up to.
When you need to renew your electricians’ license in Texas, this can be done online using this link.
Electrical contractor (Business license)
To obtain the business license of electrical contractor, the person responsible must either himself be a licensed master electrician and/or employ someone with that license. Financial responsibility must be proven as well as compliance with workers compensation coverage. Access the application here.
Electrical Sign Contractor (Business license)
To register a business license as an electrical sign contractor, the responsible party must either be a licensed master sign electrician. One can also be employed instead. You are required to show financial responsibility and meet the requirements governing workers compensation. You can access the application here.
Residential Appliance Installation Contractor (Business Licenses)
To register a business license as a residential appliance installation contractor, the responsible party must either be a licensed residential appliance installer. One can also be employed instead. You are required to show that you have and maintain business liability insurance and adhere to the workers compensation coverage requirements. The two relevant forms can be accessed here and here.
To obtain a license as a Master Electrician, you are required to have a minimum of 12,000 hours of training while being supervised by a Master Electrician, and you are also required to pass the necessary exam. Access the application here or the form for the reciprocity program here. The exam costs $78 to take and the license costs $50.
Master Sign Electrician
To obtain a license as a Master Sign Electrician, you are required to have a minimum of 12,000 hours of training while being supervised by a Master Sign Electrician, and you are also required to pass the necessary exam. Access the application here. The exam costs $63 to take and the license costs $50.
To obtain a license as a Journeyman Electrician, you are required to have a minimum of 8,000 hours of training while being supervised by a Master Electrician, and you are also required to pass the necessary exam required for journeymen. Access the application here. View the form to apply for a reciprocity license through this link. The exam costs $63 to take and the license costs $35.
Journeyman Sign Electrician
To obtain a license as a Journeyman Sign Electrician, you are required to have a minimum of 8,000 hours of training while being supervised by a Master Sign Electrician, and you are also required to pass the necessary exam required. Access the application here. The exam costs $63 to take and the license costs $35.
To obtain a license as a Residential Wireman, you are required to have a minimum of 4,000 hours of training while being supervised by a Master Electrician or Residential Wireman, and you are also required to pass the necessary exam required. Access the application here. The exam costs $63 to take and the license costs $25.
To obtain a license as a Maintenance Electrician, you are required to have a minimum of 8,000 hours of training while being supervised by a Master Electrician or Maintenance Electrician, and you are also required to pass the necessary exam required. Access the application here. The exam costs $63 to take and the license costs $25.
Residential Appliance Installer
To obtain a license as a Residential Appliance Installer, you are required to be at least 16 years old and you will need to pass the corresponding exam. The two corresponding forms can be found here and here. The exam costs $63 to take and the license costs $35.
To become an Electrical Apprentice, you need to be at least 16 years old and help a Master Electrician in installing electrical work. You can apply online or using this form. The license costs $20 to get.
Reciprocity Agreements With Other States
These are the requirements for a Master or Journeyman Electrician. The picture is from TDLR.
The reciprocity agreement for Master Electricians is only available for Louisiana and North Carolina license holders. The Journeyman Electrician program is available for the rest of the states. However, these are the only two types of licenses available through reciprocity, and the others, which include residential wireman or sign electricians, do not have reciprocity programs. If you wish to obtain one of these other licenses, you will be required to go through the traditional route of passing the necessary exams and showing that you live up to the other requirements.
When you are about to take the electrical examinations, we recommend that you study the National Electrical Code. We have also partnered up with an educational provider and are able to help you pass the test more easily with this course. It gives you access to all the guides, practice quizzes, calculations, tips as well as being able to ask an instructor questions.
Well Drilling/Pump Installation License
You will need the relevant license when you wish to either do well drilling or pump installation in Texas. This is also administered by the TDLR.
Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
P. O. Box 12157
Austin, TX 78711
Fax: (512) 475-2871
For well drilling, there are 6 different types of licenses that are issued: General Well Driller, Water Well Driller, Closed Loop Geothermal Well Driller, Monitor Well Driller, Dewatering Well Driller and Injection Well Driller.
For pump installation, there are five different types of licences that are issued: General Pump, Single Phase Pump, Three Phase Pump, Line Shaft Turbine Pump & Windmills, Hand Pump & Pump Jack.
When you’re applying you will need to show that you have no less than two years experience in either of the two fields, reference letters from different people that have had their licenses for no less than two years, a letter of reference from your banker and two letters from previous customers you have worked with. You must show that you have lived in the state for at least three months and that you plan on living there permanently.
While it is not a reciprocity program, the TDLR may provide you with the license if you are already licensed in another state with similar requirements. That specific state must however also do the same for Texan pump installers or well drillers.
There are also exams that you will need to take in order to prove you have the required knowledge. You can see the test statistics here for the year 2017.
There are certain fees you will need to pay when you’re either originally applying for a license or rather applying to renew one. The well driller and pump installer license will each cost $215 to apply for, or $325 for the combined license. They cost the same to renew, or $322.5 if you’re up to 90 days late, and $430 if you’re up to 1½ year late. The combined licenses cost $325 to renew, $487.5 if you’re up to 90 days late and $650 if you’re up to 1½ year late.
The apprentice licenses cost $65 to apply for each, or $115 for the combined license.
Department of Transportation (DOT)
The state of Texas requires that anyone wishing to bid on Department of Transportation projects be licensed. You can contact the DOT in order to obtain the application to become prequalified.
Texas Department of Transportation
125 East 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701-2483
Fax: (512) 416-2538
The Texas Department of Transportation requires any contractor to get prequalified if they wish to bid on or do business with the DOT. In the process of getting that, you will need to answer questions about your company, including experience, equipment, financial condition, personnel and organization, as well as the given type of work you focus on and wish to bid on for the DOT. When your company gets prequalified, you will need to renew the prequalification each year and you will also need to specify the districts that you seek to do work in.
The prequalification also determines the size of the project that the contractor may have with the DOT, which is a result of the financial stability of the company. Firms that are affiliated with each other can also not compete on the same projects for the DOT and affiliations may be reported using the phone number (512) 416-2584. You also need to list the districts in Texas that you’re willing to work in. Prequalification is good for one year.
As well as getting the necessary licenses, corporations from outside of Texas are required to get a Certificate of Authority when wishing to do business in the state. These are provided by the Secretary of State. You can find more information about the process of filing an application here. Any questions or requests regarding this should be forward to the Secretary of State, through the contact information below.
Office of the Secretary of State
P. O. Box 13697
Austin, TX 78711-3697