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Licensing Requirements

by Matt Myers

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Contractor Licensing Requirements - United States
Know The Requirements
Do your homework regarding your contractor's licensing. All states that license contractors and tradesmen keep lists of license holders. Contact your state licensing board for licensing requirements specific to your state. Except for plumbers and electricians, tradesmen paid by the hour usually don't
need a license. Contractors bidding on any significant work (more than a few hundred dollars) need a license in most states. If you have a problem with a licensed contractor or tradesman, the state licensing board can be a powerful ally in resolving issues. Get into a dispute with an unlicensed contractor or tradesman and you're on your own.
 
Learn more about your state's requirements - select an option below.
 
   
Please note: A license number on a bid or contract does not necessarily mean the license is valid. Before you sign anything, call your state licensing board to make sure the contractor is properly licensed in the class of work to be performed, and that the license is in good standing.
ALABAMA
The state of Alabama requires any general contractor working on a commercial or industrial project costing $50,000 or more to get a license. General contractors working on a residential project that costs $10,000 or more need a license.
 
ALASKA
Alaska law requires that contractors be registered with the Department of Community and Economic Development.
 
ARIZONA
Basically, you need a license to bid on any job over $750 in Arizona.
 
ARKANSAS
To bid and work on construction projects in Arkansas that cost $20,000 or more, you must get a contractor's license.
 
CALIFORNIA
With a few exceptions, all businesses or individuals who work on any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in California must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) if the total cost of one or more contracts on the project is $500 or more
 
COLORADO
General construction contractors in Colorado are not licensed by the state. You should check for license requirements at the local level. You will need a license to do electrical or plumbing work in the state, however.
 
CONNECTICUT
Home improvement and new home construction contractors must be certified. Anyone working on major projects must be registered.
 
DELAWARE
Contractors bidding on jobs over $50,000 must apply for a license.
 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Electrical, plumbing, and home improvement contractors must be licensed to work in the District of Columbia.
 
FLORIDA
You need to be registered or certified to do construction work in Florida. You can get a "registered" contractor's license at the local level, unless a certified license is required by the county in which you want to perform the work. Contractors with a "certified" license are allowed to work anywhere in the state.
 
GEORGIA
Most contractors don't need a license in Georgia. The exception is asbestos abatement and the mechanical trades.
 
HAWAII
Hawaii requires general engineering, general building and specialty contractors to be licensed.
 
IDAHO
The state of Idaho doesn't license general contractors working on private sector residential or commercial projects. That's done at the local level. However the state does license plumbers, electricians, well drillers, fire protection sprinkler contractors, and public works contractors.
 
ILLINOIS
Most construction contractors don't need to be licensed in Illinois. Roofing and plumbing contractors are the exception.
 
INDIANA
Only plumbing contractors need to be licensed in Indiana. Public Works and Department of Transportation work must be done by certified or pre-qualified contractors. Before beginning work, you should check for license requirements at the local level.
 
IOWA
Plumbers and electricians must be registered with the state but are licensed at the local level. Asbestos workers, contractors and supervisors must obtain licenses for all asbestos projects.
 
KANSAS
Kansas doesn't license construction contractors at the state level. But you should check for licensing requirements at the local level.
 
KENTUCKY
Electrical, plumbing and HVAC contractors have to be licensed in Kentucky.
 
LOUISIANA
To do construction work in Louisiana you need to be licensed by the State Licensing Board for Contractors.
 
MAINE
General building contractors do not need a license in Maine. You'll need to be licensed to do asbestos abatement work, or electrical or plumbing contracting.
 
MARYLAND
General construction contractors don't need a license to work in Maryland. You will need a license to do electrical, plumbing or HVACR contracting, or work on home improvement projects.
 
MASSACHUSETTS
Anyone who supervises construction work or demolition (even a crew of one) needs a license.
 
MICHIGAN
Contractors working on residential or a combination of residential and commercial buildings must be licensed. Electricians, plumbers and HVAC contractors also have to be licensed.
 
MINNESOTA
The Minnesota Department of Commerce licenses residential builders and remodelers.
 
MISSISSIPPI
A certificate or license is required for all but the smallest construction and remodeling projects.
 
MISSOURI
The state of Missouri doesn't license construction contractors.
 
MONTANA
All construction contractors and subcontractors must register with the Department of Labor and Industry if they have employees. Those contractors without employees may register, but are not required to do so.
 
NEBRASKA
All contractors doing business in counties with a population of 100,000 or more need a license to do business. Nonresident contractors doing business in Nebraska must register with the Nebraska Secretary of State and the Nebraska Department of Revenue. All electricians have to be licensed.
 
NEVADA
You must be licensed to bid or work on construction jobs in Nevada.
 
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Only certain types of specialty contractors are licensed: asbestos and lead abatement contractors, electrical contractors and plumbing contractors.
 
NEW JERSEY
You must register to be in the business of building new homes in New Jersey. You must also warrant each new home you build and provide warranty follow-up services. Plumbers and electricians are licensed in New Jersey.
 
NEW MEXICO
Construction contractors must be licensed in New Mexico.
 
NEW YORK
Except for asbestos abatement work, all construction work in New York is regulated at the local level.
 
NORTH CAROLINA
To work as a general contractor on projects costing more than $30,000 in North Carolina, you must get a license from the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. Electrical, plumbing, heating and fire sprinkler contractors must be licensed.
 
NORTH DAKOTA
You must have a license in North Dakota to work on any job costing $2,000 or more.
 
OHIO
The state of Ohio doesn't license contractors. The municipality where work is done does that. However the Ohio Construction Industry Examining Board issues Qualification Certificates for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, hydronics, and refrigeration contractors. Landscapers need to be licensed if they plant trees or shrubs.
 
OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma doesn't license resident construction contractors, except in the electrical, mechanical and plumbing trades. But there are some special requirements for nonresident contractors.
 
OREGON
If you're paid for any construction activity, you need to register with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.
 
PENNSYLVAINIA
Contractors are not licensed in Pennsylvania. However the Department of Transportation has certain requirements for public works contractors.
 
RHODE ISLAND
If you build, repair, or remodel one- to four-family dwellings in Rhode Island, you must register with the Contractors' Registration Board. Some specialty trades must be licensed in Rhode Island.
 
SOUTH CAROLINA
To do residential building over $200 and commercial building over $5,000 in South Carolina you must be licensed.
 
SOUTH DAKOTA
South Dakota certifies or licenses only asbestos abatement, electrical and plumbing contractors.
 
TENNESSEE
You must have a license to do construction work in Tennessee.
 
TEXAS
Only specialty contractors, including HVAC, fire sprinkler systems, plumbing, and well drilling/pump installation specialists, need to be licensed in Texas.
 
UTAH
To do construction work in Utah you need a license from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. Electricians and plumbers have to be licensed.
 
VERMONT
Contractors need to be certified to do asbestos or lead abatement and licensed to do electrical or plumbing work.
 
VIRGINIA
Some construction contractors must be licensed in Virginia. Trade licenses are required for electrical, plumbing, HVAC, gas fitting, asbestos abatement and lead abatement work.
 
WASHINGTON
To do construction work in Washington you must register with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. Electricians and plumbers must be licensed.
 
WEST VIRGINIA
Construction contractors have to be licensed in West Virginia.
 
WISCONSIN
Most residential builders must have a state credential. Electricians, plumbers and some specialty trades must have a state credential.
 
WYOMING
All contractors, except electrical, are licensed at the local (city or county) level. However, the state requires everyone doing electrical work in Wyoming to be licensed.
Matt Myers is a freelance writer for the home maintenance and remodeling industry. Formerly a contractor specializing in deck building and casework, Matt has written over 500 articles for both homeowners and contractors.