5 Things You Didn’t Know About Getting a Contractor’s License

contractor license

SuretyBonds.com contributor posts provide external expertise to help small businesses and other professionals succeed. This post features insights from Jordan Cabell, leading state license specialist at Contractor Training Center.

If you’ve been putting off getting your contractor’s license, it’s time to give it more serious thought. Being a licensed contractor has several benefits: It gives you credibility, allows you to take on large projects, and increases your earning potential.

If you’re ready to take the next steps to becoming a licensed contractor, you’ve come to the right place. We will start what you need to do to become a general contractor. We will then dive into five things you likely didn’t know about applying for a contractor’s license.

1. Work Experience Requirements

As a general contractor, you are expected to have a variety of skills, such as roofing, flooring, plumbing, and HVAC installation. Once you acquire the technical know-how, which takes about five to 10 years, you may want to take the next steps to start a contracting business.

You’ll need proven experience to qualify for a contractor’s license. In most states, you are required to have experience before you can apply for your contractor’s license. Generally, the minimum experience you’ll need is between two and five years.

In short, you can’t apply for a commercial license without having commercial experience. 

In some states, like Georgia, you’ll need four years of working experience in construction to qualify. You also have to show proof that you supervised a project within five years of applying for your license.

2. In-State Registration

One of the documents you have to provide when applying for a contractor’s license in any state is the business registration form and the Employer Identification Number. Your business must be registered in the state where you want to obtain the license.

To register your company with state and local authorities, you need to decide on the business structure you want to operate: Will it be an LLC, a partnership, or a corporation? If you hire employees other than yourself, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number.

3. Business Registration

A general contractor’s license won’t be issued to an individual contractor. If you get the license in your name, you’ll have to advertise and receive payments in your name; it’s best to apply for the license in your business name. Also, remember that the bond must match the license application.

4. Required State Business and Law Exams

Each state has a set of examinations you have to pass to operate legally as a contractor. The exams comprise multiple topics such as tax laws, bidding requirements, labor laws, and environmental regulations. Make sure to contact the International Code Council about examinations applicable to your state.

You’ll also take examinations on risk and financial management. If you have completed and passed an exam in another state, you’ll still need to pass the exam in the state where you are applying for the license. 

5. Criminal or Financial History

You don’t have to worry if you have a criminal history. You’ll still be eligible for a contractor’s license. However, you must disclose all pertinent information when submitting your application. 

You’ll have to provide a disclosure statement that explains your criminal history. Include information about the charge, the date of conviction, the court judgment, and other supporting documentation.

You’ll also need to provide documents for unpaid claims, bankruptcy, defaults on bonds, and other judgments. Most states will do a background check. If you don’t proactively disclose the information, it may negatively impact your chances of being approved for a license.

Your state licensing board should have more information about obtaining a contractor’s license with a criminal conviction. 

The Bottom Line

If you’d like to grow your business but are frustrated with the process of obtaining a license, it’s time to get expert advice. At Contractor Training Center, we can help you get your contractor’s license. To address any questions or concerns about becoming licensed, book a Start-Up Consultation with one of our friendly specialists today!

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About the Author

Jordan Cabell
Jordan Cabell is a Leading State License Specialist at Contractor Training Center. She specializes in onboarding contractor applicants into the contractor licensing process and reviewing state and county contractor licensing board applications and is an expert at ensuring clients meet all necessary licensing requirements. She has helped more than 200 clients successfully obtain their licenses in her two years with the company.