Contractor Licensing Requirements By State

two contractors on a construction site
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If you’re interested in putting your DIY or on-the-job skills to the test professionally, becoming a general contractor might be a rewarding career option. The requirements to get into the field vary by state, so the first step is understanding what forms of education, licensing, insurance, and experience you will need. aaa


Alabama requires general contractors and subcontractors to be licensed if the total project cost, including labor, is at least $50,000 for commercial and industrial jobs, $10,000 for residential jobs, or $5,000 for swimming pools. You will need to provide references and financial records with your application. To become licensed, you will need to pass exams provided by the Licensing Board for General Contractors, log previous work experience, and provide proof of insurance.


You will need to hold a license to work as a contractor in Alaska. There are three types of licenses for commercial and residential work. A general contractor with a Residential Contractor Endorsement can tackle most projects, but without the endorsement is limited to 25% of the total value of the building. A general contractor handyperson can take on projects valued at less than $10,000.

You may also need to complete secondary courses in arctic engineering or a Certificate of Fitness for the Trades, which covers the handling of asbestos, abatement, hazardous paint, boilers, and explosives.


A license is required for all work over $750. There are several levels of residential and commercial licenses available through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. You will need to show proof of insurance, and at least a four-year work history, as well as passing required exams.

colorful buildings in Phoenix, Arizona at night


Contractors and subcontractors will need a license for work over $2,000. There are several different licenses, each with limits on the type of structure you can work on, the work you can perform, and the value of the project.

For all licenses, you must provide a financial statement, proof of a bond, and proof of worker’s compensation insurance. You will need to pass a business and law exam and identify a specialty since licensing may not overlap between types of jobs.


All jobs over $500 require a state license from the California Contractors State License Board. You'll need four years of documented work experience, proof of bond or a $15,000 deposit, successful exams, asbestos-handling training, and proof of insurance if you have employees.


There are no state licensing requirements for contractor work in Colorado. However, many county or city governments require licensing. For those that require it, preconditions include passing an exam and providing proof of insurance.


In Connecticut, you can register as a major contractor to work on institutional buildings, hotels, and other large job sites. You can also register as a minor contractor to work on private homes, but you’ll need to differentiate between new home construction or home improvement construction. There are no state licensing requirements.


Delaware has no state licensing requirements, but you will need to obtain a business license and register with the Delaware Division of Revenue.


Florida requires general contractors to hold a license issued by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. There are two levels of licensing—a registered license allows you to work in specific areas of the state and a certified license allows you to work anywhere within state lines. Within those licenses, you’ll need to identify your work as either general, building, or residential.

You will need to pass required exams, show proof of insurance, record work experience, and show financial records.


To obtain a contractor’s license in Georgia, you’ll need to pass business and licensing exams and provide work history as well as proof of insurance for projects on residential homes over $2,500.

church in small town in Georgia at sunset


You can be licensed as a general engineering contractor, general building contractor, or specialty contractor in Hawaii. You'll need a license for jobs over $1,000 and/or builds or renovations that require permits.


General contractors do not need to be licensed with the state, but there may be regional requirements, and you must be registered with the Idaho Contractors Board for jobs over $2,000. Those in specialty fields such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, well drillers, fire sprinkler systems, and public works do need to hold a license.


There are no contractor’s state licensing requirements in Illinois, but you will need to register your business and show proof of insurance. However, you will need to check at a local level, where many do require licensing.  


Only plumbers are licensed at the state level, but again there are regional variations. For example, Indianapolis requires a license in the field.


There are no state licensing requirements, but all construction contractors in Iowa must register with the Iowa Division of Labor if their work will earn $2,000 or more for that year.


Water well drillers and asbestos abatement contractors can get state licensing, but general contractors need to look at a local level as there are no state requirements.


While electrical, plumbing, and HVAC pros are licensed at the state level, contractors are not required to be. However, there are county and city regulations.


For jobs over $7,500, building contractors must have licenses. A residential license is required if construction exceeds $75,000. There are also commercial, residential specialty, and home improvement licensing categories. Mold remediation requires licensure for any job.


There are no licensing requirements at the state level, but there are some regional requirements. All work over $3,000 does require a written contract.

northeastern city of Portland, Maine at sunset


Licensing in Maryland is varied depending on what you’re working on. There are local requirements and stipulations for working on residential homes. For tasks that don’t require a license, registration and fees are still almost always needed.


The state requires general contractors to acquire their Construction Supervisor license through the Office of Public Safety and Inspections for larger projects. There are several other options for licensing. In general, each requires work experience and proof of insurance, as well as a passing exam grade.


Contractors working on residential units in Michigan hold a Residential Builders license or a Maintenance & Alterations Contractors license, which requires a 60-hour pre-licensure course and passing of an exam.


Although a general contractor doesn’t have to obtain a license from the state, residential building contractors and remodelers do.


The state of Mississippi requires licensing for all projects over $50,000.


Look for regional requirements. There are no state licensing requirements for contractors.


Look for regional requirements. There are no state licensing requirements for contractors. However, any contractor with employees must register with the Department of Labor and Industry.


Although there are no state licensing requirements, contractors and subcontractors in Nebraska must register with the Department of Labor and provide proof of insurance if you have employees.


Licensing with the state is required in nearly every case awarded by the Nevada State Contractors Board. You’ll need proof of insurance, bond, and at least four years of work experience before taking exams.

New Hampshire

Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required.

New Jersey

Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required for contractors. However, registration with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is required.

New Mexico

State licensing is required, although there are myriad classifications issued by the New Mexico Department of Regulation and Licensing.

New York

Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required.

North Carolina

For projects over $30,000, contractors must be licensed by the state, and there are several categories of licensing available.

North Dakota

Licensing is required for jobs over $4,000.


Licensing is handled at the local level for general contractors. The only state requirements are for work in electrical, plumbing, HVAC, hydronics, and refrigeration.


Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required.


If you get paid for any type of construction activity, the state requires licensing. Rules in Oregon are stricter than in most other states. You must complete pre-license training and take a test, specify your area of interest, and show proof of liability and worker’s compensation insurance as well as a bond.


There are no state licensing requirements, but if you make more than $5,000 per year, you need to register with the Attorney General’s Office.

bridge to an urban area in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

The state requires registration with the Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board for commercial construction, home constructions, alterations, remodeling, or repair to residents. There are no licensing requirements, but you must show proof of insurance and complete a five-hour course.

South Carolina

There are different levels of requirements for commercial and residential work. Most contractors need to hold a license for jobs over $5,000, which will require experience and passing exams.

South Dakota

Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required.


All jobs over $25,000 require licensing, and some specialty tasks under $25,000 do too. Testing, proof of insurance and experience, and a financial statement are required.


Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required. HVAC, fire sprinkler systems, plumbing, and well drilling/pump installation specialists need a state license.


All contractors performing work over $3,000 must get a state license designated from dozens of classifications.


Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required.


There are three levels of licensing to choose from in Virginia, all of which require pre-license education and an exam.


Although Washington doesn’t require licensing, contractors must pass an exam and show proof of bond and insurance. You must also register with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

West Virginia

West Virginia requires licenses for contractors and subcontractors performing work that adds up to $2,500 or more.


Contractors in Wisconsin will need to obtain a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license for any job over $1,000. This requires a 12-hour course, a test, and proof of insurance.


Check regional requirements, but no state licensing is required.