How to Get a Contractor License in Pennsylvania

How to Get a Contractor License in Pennsylvania

In the state of Pennsylvania, general contractors make an average salary of roughly $74,000 a year. So, if you like construction and have the skills to make it a possibility, you should strongly consider becoming a general contractor.

But how? How do you earn a contractor license in Pennsylvania? Read on, and you'll find out. Without further ado, here's how to get a Pennsylvania contractor license.

Does Pennsylvania Have a State Contractor License?

Let's get this out of the way first: Pennsylvania doesn't have a state contractor license. The only contractors who need to obtain a license from the state are those who operate cranes and those who remove asbestos or lead from buildings.

That said, contractors do still need to obtain licensure from their local municipalities. In most parts of Pennsylvania, it's illegal to do construction work without first obtaining this licensure.

For specifics on your municipality's licensing requirements, give a call to your local city hall. In Philadelphia, for example, you would consult this link.

Legal Requirements for Contractors in Pennsylvania

No, contractors in Pennsylvania don't need to be licensed at the state level. However, they do still need to meet some legal requirements in order to operate. We'll discuss these requirements in detail below.

Obtain Insurance

In order to work as a contractor in Pennsylvania, you must obtain insurance. Not only do you need general liability insurance but workers' compensation insurance as well. This way, should you cause any damage to a property or should someone get injured on your property, you'll be able to cover the expenses in full.

Now, how much insurance do you need? That depends on the scale of your projects as well as on your own preferences.

Have a Clean Criminal Record

Another requirement for obtaining a contractor license in Pennsylvania is having a clean criminal record. Now, this doesn't mean that it needs to be spotless. A speeding ticket, for example, isn't going to jeopardize your chances of getting a license.

However, if you have any major criminal offenses on your record, they could very well impair your ability to secure a license.

Be at Least 18 Years Old

In Pennsylvania, as in most states, individuals must be at least 18 years old in order to secure a contractor license. That said, there are no standard educational requirements for obtaining a contractor license. For example, you don't need a GED or high school diploma.

Make Sure That You Can Pay All Fees

There are several fees associated with obtaining a contractor license in Pennsylvania. These run the gamut from application fees to processing fees to background check fees and the like. Make sure that you're capable of paying all of these in advance of starting any applications.

Registering With the Attorney General's Office

No, you don't need a special license in order to work as a general contractor in the state of Pennsylvania. That said, you do still need to register with the state's attorney general's office. This is if you make more than $5,000 a year as a result of general contracting work.

This is required by the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, an act that was passed by the state in 2008. It's designed to alert homeowners to whether or not a specific contractor is legitimate.

When registering with the attorney general's office, you'll need to submit a bevy of different information. This includes the following:

Business Designation

One of the most important things to submit is your business designation. This indicates how your business is structured and affects how it's treated in terms of taxes and employment laws.

There are a number of designations to choose from. You could be a sole proprietor who works without employees. You could be a limited liability company. You could even structure your business as a corporation.

If you need help choosing, speak with an experienced business lawyer.

Personal Identification Information

You'll also need to submit personal identification information. This includes things like your social security number and your driver's license number. You'll likely need to submit your home and/or business address as well.

Identification Information for Shareholders

Do you run a corporation? If so, you'll need to submit the identification information for all of your shareholders who own over 5% of your company. Again, this will include social security numbers, driver's license numbers, and addresses.


Do you hold any licenses either on a state or municipal level? If so, you should submit proof of this licensure. This includes licenses such as crane operator licenses, local contractor licenses, and the like.

A Summary of Your Business

You'll also need to submit a letter detailing the specifics of your business. This should include info on its history, its purpose, its finances, its employees, and more. It should paint a clear picture of what your business does as well as the level of money that it brings in.

Proof of Insurance

Finally, you'll need to submit proof of insurance. This includes proof of both general liability and workers' compensation insurance. There is no set rule for the amount of insurance required; just weigh your risks and purchase enough insurance for you to cover them.

Obtaining Specialty Licenses in Pennsylvania

We've noted that general contractors, in general, don't need to be licensed by the state of Pennsylvania. However, crane operators and asbestos and lead removal specialists do. Let's discuss the specifics of their licensure process below.

Obtaining a Crane Operator License

Crane operators in the state of Pennsylvania must become certified through the NCCCO. This is the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators). This certification serves as state-wide licensure for the operation of cranes.

Note, though, that there are many different certifications provided by this organization, one for each type of crane that can be operated. Therefore, if you want to be able to operate all cranes, you need to obtain all certifications.

To earn certifications, you'll need to pass written examinations. With each exam that's passed, you'll receive a new license. You'll then need to send proof of this license to the state of Pennsylvania.

Obtaining an Asbestos Abatement License

Now, let's discuss obtaining an asbestos abatement license in the state of Pennsylvania. First, you must fill out an asbestos contractor certification application.

Once you've filled this out, you'll need to mail it to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. Along with this, you'll need to send the designated fee. This should be paid by check.

To receive your license, you need to have participated in an appropriate (EPA or Pennsylvania-approved) asbestos remediation training course. You also need to have a certification proving that you passed this course. Mail a copy of this certification in with your application in order to have your application processed as quickly as possible.

Obtaining a Contractor License in Philadelphia

We've already noted that the state of Pennsylvania has no state-regulated contractor license. However, as we've also noted, municipalities within the state generally do require contractors to possess such licenses.

So, to help you determine how to go about obtaining a license from such a municipality, we're going to discuss the process for the state's biggest municipality: Philadelphia. Here's how to obtain a contractor license in Philadelphia.

Fill Out an Application

First and foremost, you need to fill out an application. This can be found at this link. The application will require you to enter a bevy of information. This information includes contact info, financial info, tax info, and more.

You'll also need to submit a number of documents along with your application. The specifics of these documents will be included in your application's instructions.

Supply Proof of Insurance

Next, you must provide the city with proof of insurance. You can do this through the city's ECLIPSE system.

What are the specific insurance requirements for contractors in Philadelphia? There are no specific requirements. However, we recommend a general liability policy of at least $500,000 worth of coverage. Note that you should also have workers' compensation insurance if you hire any employees.

Take a Safety Training Course

In addition to supplying insurance information, you're also going to need to take part in a safety training course. This is known as the OSHA 30-hour training course.

Once you've passed the course, you'll need to submit a confirmation indicating so to the city of Philadelphia. This, again, can be done through the ECLIPSE submission system.

Provide a List of Your Subcontractors

The last thing you're going to need to do is to provide a list of your subcontractors to the city. This should include contact information, including phone numbers and email addresses.

Again, this should be submitted through the ECLIPSE submission system.

Renew Your License Yearly

In order to keep your license valid, you need to renew it yearly. Failure to do this in a timely manner could impair your ability to operate legally. Working illegally could result in major financial repercussions.

Therefore, it's advised that you start your renewal application at least 90 days prior to the end of your current license's expiration date. This ensures that your renewal application is processed with plenty of time to spare.

Need Help Obtaining a Contractor License in Pennsylvania?

Are you looking to earn a contractor license in Pennsylvania? Need a little help doing so? If so, Contractor Training Center has you covered.

Are you gearing up to apply for a contractor license in Pennsylvania? At Contractor Training Center, we offer application assistance services to ensure you complete all the necessary forms and supporting documents to obtain your license with ease!

If you have questions about your licensing needs, book a 30-minute call with a licensing expert at the link below to sort out all the details and apply with ease!


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