Applying for a contractors license is relatively straightforward, although the specific requirements will vary based on your location. The rules shouldn’t change too much between states; however, your first step should be visiting the web site of your state contractors board. There you’ll find specific information on licensing, the testing and application process, fee schedules and additional, state-specific requirements.
Generally speaking, a contractors license application, application and testing fees and, in some instances proof of bonding and insurance, will be required to obtain a contractors license. After you check on your specific state requirements, you’ll then need to fill out an application, which can be downloaded online from most official state web sites, or can be ordered by calling your local or state licensing authority. Most applications require the applicant to state their experience, business references, as well as any issues, complaints or lawsuits that you may or may not have had. In many cases the application will also require a detailed financial statement, as well as declarations on your personal finances, such as whether or not you’ve ever filed for bankruptcy. ( A tip: Be prepared by first having a business plan ready before filling out the application. It will not only help you plan for your future business, but will help you with the application questions as well.)
You’ll likely also have to take a test on construction management and/or a specific trade, the details of which vary greatly from state to state. In most states, it’s not required to take any specific coursework before getting a contractors license, however, there are programs available for some states (such as California) which offer either a school to help you study for the tests, or an option in home study for contractors license. While it’s not required, many will suggest coursework to help you prepare for the required licensing tests-especially for those with limited construction or business management experience.
Finally, to apply for a contractors license, you’ll also need to pay several fees, including a licensing fee and testing fees. Specific amounts vary, but be prepared for costs to range from $75 to $300 per application, test or licensing fee, with overall costs totaling around $500.00. An additional cost to remember is that, in some cases, proof of bonding and insurance will also be required.
Before you apply for a contractors license, be sure to take into account that in most states you will need at least two separate licenses before performing and professional construction work: a contractors license from the state board, and a business license for the city or county in which you’re performing the work. Also keep in mind that licensing requirements will change based on what type of construction you plan on doing-whether commercial, residential, remodeling or new construction. Your specific situation can change application and permit requirements, such as the amount of experience you’ll need to declare.
Specific licensing requirements will vary by state; visit the official web site for your state or city to find out more information.