The United States is home to more than 3.8 million construction businesses today, and the industry is growing. We all rely on the craftsmanship of contractors in our daily lives.
If this is what you'd like to do for a living, you need to first and foremost find out how to get professionally licensed. This is a statewide issue since each state has its own protocols for issuing licenses.
So, how can you become a contractor in Arizona?
Here's what you should know about becoming a general contractor in Arizona.
Which Professionals Need a Contractor License in Arizona?
General contractors in Arizona have to satisfy certain requirements before they can legally work in a professional capacity. It's important to know which projects require you to get a contractor license.
A good rule of thumb is that a contractor should be professionally licensed anytime they're paid to handle construction and building projects. Here are the main reasons that pros need to get a contractor license:
Types of Building Projects
There are certain types of building projects that necessitate a general contractor's license. You will need a contractor license in Arizona when carrying out the following types of projects:
- Any form of new building construction or alterations
- Handling repairs in a professional capacity in or on a building
- Building demolitions or additions
- Roadway or railway construction work
- Working on utility lines and electrical connections
- Implementing scaffolding work
- Remodeling, floor work, and professional landscaping
Getting to know which types of building projects require a license will help you get certified so that you can move forward with your exam.
Contractors and Supervisors
Any professional that acts as either a contractor or subcontractor needs to satisfy licensing requirements. Management professionals and project supervisors need to also have a license in Arizona, in addition to hiring pros that are licensed.
It's important that you handle contractor licensing in Arizona so that your projects are handled legally and without setbacks or fines.
Classifications of Contractor Licenses
Understanding the type of license you need to get will also help with your career decisions. Arizona has a number of different license classifications that contractors can register for.
Get to know the different contractor license classifications that you can apply for:
These are professionals that handle a variety of jobs on houses and other residential structures. Some examples include single-family homes, two-family homes, and duplexes.
This is a general residential contractor's license. It allows you to build or repair any type of residential structure.
Certain types of specific work on these projects will require the assistance of subcontractors with specialty licenses.
A Class B-3 license is intended for professionals that handle various remodeling and repair jobs.
They help homeowners looking to modernize and upgrade their homes to build equity. The return on investment (ROI) can be to make the home more valuable or to prepare it for rental or a home sale.
This designation is set up for engineering contractors that work on residential projects. These professionals hold engineering degrees also and have any number of construction specialties.
They might provide services such as architecture and design, in addition to handling the actual construction work.
Professionals that hold a Class B-5 license provide services for swimming pool installations and repairs. They work on the construction, remodeling, and general maintenance work of pools and hot tubs of any size.
It's important to note that this license only applies to residential swimming pools rather than public or commercial pools.
Many construction professionals specialize in commercial building and repair projects. This refers to companies in the commercial sector that can range from storefronts to hotels.
The Class B-1 license refers to a professional that handles general commercial contracting work. This includes building, repairing, and remodeling any sort of commercial structure.
Work that is more specific, such as electrical services, plumbing work, and boilers, will require subcontracting with specialists.
This license is intended for professionals who handle commercial construction, additions, and repairs for small projects. For the purpose of this license, a small project is one that is valued at $2 million or less.
They will also need specialized subcontractors for things like Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC), electrical work, and plumbing.
Other Arizona general contractors include those that handle specialty residential jobs, engineering contractors, and general dual license contractors.
Prerequisites for Getting a Contractor License
When you're looking to become a general contractor, it all starts with licensing prerequisites. Going down your checklist will help you get your Arizona general contractor's license without any setbacks.
The main prerequisites that you need to keep in mind include:
- You need to be 18 years old or older to get a general contractor's license in Arizona
- You need to establish a business entity
- You have to show yourself proficient and knowledgeable
Once you're ready to get your license, take the time to go through the steps.
How to Get a License in Arizona
Figuring out how to get your contractor's license in Arizona will help you take your professional life to the next level. There are a few core steps that you need to tackle in earnest, including:
Know How You Plan to Use Your License
Take time to map out your 5-year plan as a contractor so that you know which direction you're headed in. This includes understanding what kind of work you hope to handle and in what capacity.
Exploring your options and what you hope to accomplish as a pro will help you get the correct license without any missteps. Many professionals rush to get a certain type of license, not recognizing that they chose wrong once it's time to pivot to the next part of their career.
Perhaps you're an electrical contractor looking to start your own firm or a plumbing professional that works as an independent contractor. Nailing down these details upfront will save you some trouble on the backend.
Study for the Exam and Take Courses
This is perhaps the most important part of the process. Arizona contractors have to pass specific exams before they can get a license to work as a contractor within the state.
The main exams that professionals will need to focus on in Arizona include the National Association of State Contractor Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) or another PSI state-specific construction exam.
The NASCLA Commercial Builder exam is a nationally-accredited exam accepted in Arizona and 14 other states, in addition to the United States Virgin Islands. This exam consists of a total of 115 different questions, broken down into 12 different subject sections.
In order to pass the exam, you will need to score 70% or higher. This means that a passing score consists of at least 81 correct questions. You will have 5.5 hours to take the exam.
It's also in your best interests to enroll in an online course that will go over each section and help you pass the exam. You can take these courses on your own terms, going through a variety of modules until you feel comfortable with the material. Thinking about taking the National NASCLA Commercial Builder Exam? Check out our exam prep offerings here.
Schedule and Pass Your Exam
Next, lock in your exam dates so that you can take it and pass it. Exam dates fill up, so secure your slot with a fee. Getting the exam date on your calendar makes it real and gives you a target to shoot for.
Once you can pass practice exams with no problem, you're in a good position to pass the actual exam.
Establish Your Business
It's also important that you establish yourself as a business entity before getting your contractor's license. Figure out what kind of business designation you need to file.
Some examples that you can look into include acting as a sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or partnership. Make sure that you get an Employee Identification Number (EIN) so that you can handle your tax obligations, and choose an entity name or Doing Business As (DBA) if it applies.
You'll need to list your business entity on your application when you apply for your license, and this way, you can hit the ground running once you pass your exam.
Undergo a Series of Background Checks
The state of Arizona also requires applicants to undergo background checks before they can be granted a general contractor's license. These background checks will include a criminal search to see all information related to arrests, jail time, or any other red flags.
This will require you to submit identifying information so that they can access your background check through a third-party system.
Handle Your Liability Insurance and Bonding
Anyone operating as a general contractor will also need to hold a valid liability insurance policy. This policy will help you pay for any incidentals that you encounter throughout the course of a project.
It makes it so that you won't have to pay out of your pocket if you're ever sued or if you are at fault for any damages. Professionals that hold a contractor's license will have to maintain their insurance policy and bonding in order to keep the license active.
Take Care of Your Licensing Fees
Taking your general contractor license exam will also require you to pay some fees. The licensing fees that you pay will generally range between about $600 and $1,100, depending on the type of license that you're shooting for.
You will need to pay these fees in full at the time of taking the exam, and your fees will be good for 2 years until you have to renew your contractor's license.
Furnish Proof of Identity
You will also need to establish proof of identity in order to sit for your license exam and receive your contractor's license in Arizona. The state requires you to provide a government-issued photo ID.
Some forms of ID that are acceptable include:
- An Arizona driver's license that is current and active
- A United States passport
- A state-issued photo ID
Make sure to handle any renewal or outdated ID issues as early as possible before taking your exam.
Submit the Application With the Correct Contact Info
Finally, make sure that your application has your correct name, spelling, and up-to-date contact information. This is how they will find you in the system and send you the test results once you pass.
Handle these details and submit the actual application paperwork so that it is filed with Arizona's Registrar of Contractors.
Becoming a General Contractor in Arizona
These tips will help you when you need to hire a general contractor in Arizona.
Once you get your license, make sure to keep it up to date so that you can keep earning a living doing what you love.
Contractor Training Center can provide the resources and information that you need to build a career on your terms. Send us a message or give us a call at (888) 585-7350 to get started today!