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General Contractor License Requirements by State: Next Insurance Guide

Rachel Present Schreter | Jun 19, 2018

As a general contractor, you have a lot of responsibility. You’re responsible for large building projects, including material, equipment, labor, and services. To make sure you can focus on your work providing the best quality work to your clients, you’ll need to make sure you have all your paperwork in order. Besides the right general contractor insurance, you’ll need to make sure that you comply with the general contractor license requirements in your state.

Each state has its own specific licensing requirements for general contractors. Getting the right license doesn’t need to be difficult, but it’s important for your business. Here, we’ve put together a state-by-state list of general contractor licensing requirements to make it easier for you to find what you need. The list is in alphabetical order and if you click on the state name, you’ll be directed to the relevant government body for licensing. If there’s no link, there are no general contractor license requirements. You should also take a look at standard small business requirements in your state. Good luck!

Alabama

General contractors must have a state license in Alabama to work on any construction, alteration, maintenance, repair or demolition of structures which cost more than $50,000. The license is awarded by the Licensing Board for General Contractors. Applicants must pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You’ll also need to document your work experience and show proof of general liability insurance.

Alaska

General contractors must hold a state license to work in Alaska. There are three classifications of licenses which are awarded by the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Corporations, Business, and Professional Licensing. These construction licenses include:

  • General Contractor with Residential Contractor Endorsement – Can oversee new home construction or can undertake residential work that is more than 25% of the value of the structure. You’ll need to complete a 16-hour cold climate course and pass an exam.
  • General Contractor without Residential Contractor Endorsement – Can undertake commercial work or residential remodel work less than 25% of the value of the structure. No exam is required.
  • General Contractor Handyman – You’ll be able to undertake residential or commercial work valued at less than $10,000.

You must hold general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance.

Arizona

Any general contractor who builds, alters, repairs, adds to, subtracts from, improves, moves, wrecks or demolishes any structure must hold a state general contractor license to work in Arizona. There are a number of different classifications of licenses awarded by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. They include:

  • General Residential Contractors
  • General Commercial Contractor
  • General Dual License Contracting – includes both residential and commercial contracting

To receive a general contractor license, you must pass the trade exam, as well as the business management exam. You must show proof of four years of experience and show proof of a bond.

Arkansas

All general contractors in Arkansas must have a state general contractor license to do any work worth more than $2,000. There are a number of different classifications of licenses awarded by the Contractors Licensing Board. These include:

  • Commercial License – Allows you to work on projects worth more than $50,000. This allows you to also do residential work in the same classification as your commercial license.
  • Restricted Commercial License – You can only work on commercial projects worth less than $750,000.
  • Residential Builders License – Allows you to do work on any single-family residence where the work is worth more than $2,000.
  • Residential Remodeler Limited License – You can do home improvement work worth up to $50,000.
  • Residential Remodeler Unlimited License – You can do any size home improvement projects.

For all licenses, you must provide a financial statement, proof of a bond, and proof of worker’s compensation insurance. You need to pass a business and law exam. You’ll need to select your specialty or classification. A building (commercial or residential) classification does not require a trade exam. You will require references who can detail your work experience.

California

All general contractors in California must hold a state license from the California Contractors State License Board for any work worth more than $500. You can apply for a general engineering contractor or general building contractor license. You must have had four full years of experience in the past ten years at a journeyman level or as a foreman, supervisor, or contractor, in the classification in which you’re applying. You’ll need to show proof of a bond, and you’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

Colorado

General contractors do not need a state license to work in Colorado; however, there may be local general contractor license requirements so make sure to check with your local government before you begin any work.

Connecticut

Connecticut does not require general contractors to hold a state license. However, if you do work on residential properties you’ll be considered a home improvement contractor and you’ll need to register with the Department of Consumer Protection.

Delaware

General contractors in Delaware do not require a trade license, but you will need to obtain a business license and register with the Delaware Division of Revenue.

Florida

As a general contractor, you must have a state license to work in Florida. The license is awarded by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. There are a number of classification of licenses:

  • General contractor – CG and RG – the license is unlimited regarding the type of work you can perform. You will need to show at least one year of experience constructing structures four stories or higher. You must have experience in four of seven specific categories.
  • Building contractor – CB and RB – limited to the construction of commercial buildings or residential buildings that don’t exceed three stories in height, or the remodeling, repair or improvement of any size structure.
  • Residential contractor – CR and RR – limited to work on residences that are no more than two stories in height

You’ll need to show proof of four years of experience, or a combination of education and experience (with up to three years of education are able to substitute for experience). You must show proof of financial stability, as well as liability and worker’s compensation insurance. You’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You may be able to register with the state and then apply for a trade license at the local, county or city level.

Georgia

To work as a general contractor in Georgia, you’ll need to hold a state license issued by the State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors. To qualify for a license, you must have one of the following:

  • A four-year college or university course in a related field and one year of work experience;
  • A combination of college-level accredited courses and practical experience totaling four years’; or
  • Four years of work experience in a construction-related field with at least two years employed as a general contractor and one year in related fields such as marketing, management or administration.

You must show proof of net worth and proof of worker’s compensation and general liability insurance. You must pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

Hawaii

General contractors must hold a state license in Hawaii to do any commercial, residential or public works that are worth more than $1,000 or require a building permit. The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Professional and Vocational Licensing Board awards a number of licenses including general engineering contractors (fixed works projects) and general building contractors (construction of structures using more than two unrelated trades). To qualify for a license, you must show proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance. You’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

Idaho

Any general contractor who performs construction work worth more than $2,000 must be registered with the Idaho Contractors Board. There is no state licensing requirement for general contractors in Idaho.

Illinois

As a general contractor, you can work in Illinois without a state general contractor license. There may, however, be licensing requirements at the local level so make sure to check these before you begin work.

Indiana

General contractors don’t need a state license to work in Indiana. Make sure to check the licensing requirements with local governments before you begin work.

Iowa

There are no state licensing requirements for general contractors in Iowa. However, any construction contractor (individual or business) who earns at least $2,000 a year doing construction work, must register with the Iowa Division of Labor.

Kansas

General contractors don’t need to hold a state license to work in Kansas. However, there are local licensing requirements so make sure to check these before you begin work.

Kentucky

You don’t need a state general contractor license to work in Kentucky. All licensing is done at the local city/county level so make sure to check this before you begin work.

Louisiana

General contractors must have a state license to work in Louisiana. There are two types of licenses you should consider, both of which are awarded by the Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors:

  • Residential license – covers construction and home improvement projects worth more than $75,000. You’ll need to show a financial statement, as well as general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. You must pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You must list at least one classification.
  • Commercial license – covers commercial projects worth more than $50,000. You’ll need to submit a financial statement and must pass the trade exam, as well as the business and law exam. You must list at least one classification.

Maine

As a general contractor, you don’t need a state license to work in Maine. However, if you undertake any home improvement or home construction jobs worth more than $3,000 you must provide a written contract. There may be local licensing requirements so make sure to check these before you begin work.

Maryland

As a general contractor, you may or may not need a state license, depending on the work you do. For new home construction, you don’t need a state license, but you do need to register with the Home Builder Registration Unit of the Office of the Attorney General. Commercial contractors must register at the city/county level. If you undertake any home improvement projects, you will need a license which is issued by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission. In this case, you’ll need to show proof of two years of work experience in home improvement or construction or related education. You’ll also need to show proof of financial solvency and proof of insurance. You must pass a business and law exam.

Massachusetts

As a general residential contractor in Massachusetts, you must be registered and licensed. You must hold a Home Improvement Contractor registration to perform ordinary repairs to an existing property. To work on larger projects on existing properties, you must also hold a Construction Supervisor License from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections. You can apply for an unrestricted license, a one- and two-family dwellings license or a specialty license. You must show three years of experience in building construction or design, and you must pass an exam. Contractors who build new homes or work on commercial buildings only are exempt.

Michigan

As a general contractor you’ll need a Residential Builders license or a Maintenance & Alterations Contractors license to construct, repair, alter, add to, subtract from or improve a residential structure or a combined residential and commercial structure. You’ll need to complete a 60-hour pre-licensure course and you must pass a test. The general contractor license is awarded by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Commercial construction contractors must contact their local county building offices for permits or licenses.

Minnesota

A general commercial contractor does not need a state license to work in Minnesota. However, a residential building contractor or remodeler does need a license. The Residential Building Contractor license is awarded by the Department of Labor and Industry. You’ll need to show proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance. You must pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

Mississippi

General commercial and residential contractors must hold a state license to work in Mississippi on projects worth more than $50,000. The licenses are awarded by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. You’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You must show proof of general liability insurance.

Missouri

There is no state licensing requirement for general contractors in Missouri, but there may be general contractor license requirements on a local level that you need to check before you begin work.

Montana

There are no licensing requirements for general contractors in Montana. However, a construction contractor who has employees must register with the Department of Labor and Industry.

Nebraska

A general contractor doesn’t need a state license to work in Nebraska. However, if you do any work that is considered construction, alterations, renovations, additions, installations or repairs, you’ll need to register with the Department of Labor.

Nevada

General contractors, defined as “businesses or individuals who construct or alter any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation or other structure in Nevada,” must hold a state license. The license is awarded by the Nevada State Contractors Board. You must show proof of worker’s compensation insurance and proof of a bond. You are required to show proof of four years experience at a journeyman level or as a foreman, supervising employee or contractor. You’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

New Hampshire

General contractors do not need a state license to work in New Hampshire. However, make sure to check local licensing requirements before you begin work.

New Jersey

There are no state licensing requirements for general contractors in New Jersey; however you will need to register for a home building license with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs or for a home improvement license with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. Commercial construction contractors are licensed at the city or county level.

New Mexico

General contractors must be licensed by the state to work in New Mexico. There are multiple classifications of contractors licenses issued by the New Mexico Department of Regulation and Licensing. These include GB-2 Residential and GB-98 General Building. You’ll need to show proof of four years of experience. You can substitute up to two years of education for experience. You must pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

New York

A general contractor is not required to hold a state license in New York; however, local governments within the state do have licensing requirements and you need to check these before you begin work.

North Carolina

General contractors must have a state license to work in North Carolina if the projects they work on are worth more than $30,000. The general contractor license is awarded by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. There are multiple classifications of licenses and you can be licensed in more than one classification if you meet the qualifications. These include building contractor, residential contractor, highway contractor, public utilities contractor, and special contractor. These are further divided into Limited, Intermediate, and Unlimited categories depending on the scope of the work you plan to do. You’ll need to pass an exam to gain your license.

North Dakota

All contractors in North Dakota require a state license to work on projects worth more than $4,000. A contractor is considered any person who constructs, repairs, alters, dismantles or demolishes “bridges, highways, roads, streets, buildings, airports, dams, pipelines, and every other structure, project, development or improvement” of property. You must apply for Class A, B, C or D according to the scope of the work you plan to do. You must show proof of insurance before you’ll be granted a license from the Secretary of State.

Ohio

A general contractor does not need a state license to work in Ohio where licenses are only required for electrical, plumbing, HVAC, hydronics, and refrigeration. However, there may be local requirements so make sure to check these before you start work.

Oklahoma

General contractors do not need a state license to work in Oklahoma. There may be licensing requirements at the local level so be sure to check these before you begin work.

Oregon

A general contractor must hold a state license to work in Oregon. A contractor is considered any person who is paid to do any construction work that involves an improvement to real property. You can apply for a residential license, a commercial license or a dual residential and commercial license. The license is awarded by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board. You must complete pre-license training and take a test. You’ll also need to show proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance.

Pennsylvania

General contractors and commercial contractors do not need a state license to work in Pennsylvania. However, if you do more than $5,000 worth of work on home improvement projects per year, you’ll need to register with the Attorney General’s Office.

Rhode Island

There is no licensing requirement for general contractors in Rhode Island; however, there is a comprehensive registration process. All contractors and subcontractors who are involved in commercial construction, home construction, alterations, remodeling or repairs to property, must register with the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board. You must complete five hours of pre-license education and must show proof of liability insurance.

South Carolina

General contractors will require a General and Mechanical Contractors License to work in South Carolina on any commercial construction jobs worth over $5,000. The general contractor license is awarded by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. You’ll need to show proof of two years of experience in the past five year and pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

South Dakota

General contractors are not licensed at the state level in South Dakota. Before you begin work, check with local and county governments as there may be local licensing requirements.

Tennessee

General contractors must hold a contractors license before they can bid on or negotiate prices for any projects that are worth $25,000 or more. This applies to any person who oversees or performs any construction, repair or installation for buildings, land, highways, public utilities, and more. You’ll need to show proof of experience, proof of insurance, and a financial statement. You’ll also need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

Texas

Texas does not license general contractors at the state level. There may be local licensing requirements, however, so make sure to check with your city or county before you start any work.

Utah

A general contractor requires a state license to do any work in Utah that is worth more than $3,000. The B-100 General Building Contractor License is awarded by the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. To qualify, you must show proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance, as well as proof of financial responsibility. You need to show two years of experience in the past ten years. You’ll need to pass a trade exam and a business and law exam.

Vermont

General contractors do not need a state license to work in Vermont; however there may be local requirements, so you’ll want to make sure to check these before you begin work.

Virginia

General contractors must have a state license, issued by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, in order to work in Virginia. You need to choose the license classification you want to be licensed for, most specifically Commercial Building Contractor or Residential Building Contractor. There are three license classes (A, B or C), depending on the scope of the work you plan to do:

  • Class A licenses – for individual projects worth up to $10,000 with a maximum of $150,000 per year. You must have two years of experience.
  • Class B licenses – for individual projects of up to $120,000 with a maximum of $750,000 per year. You must have three years of experience.
  • Class C licenses – unlimited. You must have five years of experience.

For all classes of licenses, you must complete a pre-license education course approved by the Board of Contractors and then pass an exam.

Washington

As a general contractor in Washington, there is no state licensing requirement, but you’ll need to register with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. This will allow you to “supervise numerous building trades or crafts.” You’ll need to show proof of a $12,000 surety bond, as well as proof of general liability insurance. You must pass an exam.

West Virginia

General contractors who do any work on projects worth more than $2,500 require a general contractor license to work in West Virginia. The license is issued by the West Virginia Division of Labor. There are multiple classifications of licenses, including general building and general engineering. You’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You must also show proof of worker’s compensation insurance, and you may require a wage bond.

Wisconsin

A general contractor must hold a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license to work in Wisconsin on any construction projects worth more than $1,000. This includes construction, alterations, and improvements on residential, commercial, and public works projects. You must complete a 12-hour education course approved by the board and pass a test, and you must show proof of insurance. To obtain building permits, your business must hold a Dwelling Contractor license.

Wyoming

General contractors do not need to hold a state license to work in Wyoming. Licensing is done at the local level so check with your city or county before you begin work.

This information has been provided as a service. It is correct and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge; however, it is in no way intended to offer legal advice and you must always consult with local authorities before you make any business decisions. Regulations and requirements may change at any time.

Authors

  • Sofya PogrebSofya Pogreb
  • Sanjay BiswasSanjay Biswas
  • Natalie CutlerNatalie Cutler
  • Guy GoldsteinGuy Goldstein
  • Rachel Present SchreterRachel Present Schreter
  • Alon HuriAlon Huri
  • Evyatar SagieEvyatar Sagie
  • Annie RyanAnnie Ryan
  • Zeke ScherlZeke Scherl
Rachel Present Schreter
Rachel Present Schreter | Author
Rachel is passionate about helping small businesses get the tools they need to succeed. Rachel is a marketing guru with years of experience working with tech companies, non-profits and small businesses to ensure that they are reaching the right audiences with their products.

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  • Sofya PogrebSofya Pogreb
  • Sanjay BiswasSanjay Biswas
  • Natalie CutlerNatalie Cutler
  • Guy GoldsteinGuy Goldstein
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