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How to Get a Contractor License in Texas

Contractor Tips , Posted by Charlotte Smith on

How to Get a Contractor License in Texas

If you are considering a contracting career, you are not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 5,000,000 contractors employed in the US. And, on average, these professionals earn over $32 per hour.

The good news is that almost anyone can become a contractor in the Lone Star State. But some contractor specializations require you to obtain a contractor license in Texas first.

Yes, we said "some" because not all Texas contractor specialties require workers to hold a state license. However, you may still need to abide by local contractor employment regulations.

Which contractor specialties do not require a state license in Texas? And if you do not have a license, what local requirements do you need to consider? We will answer these questions and more next, so keep reading.

Why Would You Want to Become a Contractor in Texas?

Getting a contractor license in Texas is not always easy. But the benefits of getting your license far outweigh the costs. After all, contractors enjoy multiple job and career benefits, including the following.

Strong Demand

Employment of contractors across the US has grown over the last decade. In 2012, there were only about 3.5 million contractors employed throughout the country. Today, that number is closer to 5 million.

Of all the contractor specialties, electrical contractors see the highest demand. Nearly half a million electricians work in the US. Construction and plumbing contractors are also in high demand.

In terms of where you will work, private companies have the highest rates of contractor employment. It is also very common for contractors to be self-employed.

High Earnings

As we mentioned, the average contractor earns about $32 per hour or $32.80 as of September 2022. This hourly wage is way up from 2012, when contractors earned an average of around $23 per hour.

The highest-paid contractor specialty is plumbing work, followed by electrical work and carpentry. The average plumber earns $30.67 per hour, electricians earn an average hourly wage of $30.14, and carpenters earn $27.03 per hour on average.

Texas is home to some of the highest-paid contractors in the US. For example, Dallas contractors earn the third-highest annual salary in the country at over $68,000 per year on average.

Low Barriers to Entry

Despite such high demand and earning potential, contractor jobs are relatively easy to obtain. You do not need a college degree to become a contractor. And some contractor licenses only require a GED.

Plus, there are opportunities for advancement. You could become a supervisor or manager of other contractors. This profession is especially common in the construction industry.

Contractor career advancement comes with added benefits, too. For instance, your salary may increase. The average contractor supervisor or manager in any specialty can earn an average of $36 per hour, which is over $74,000 per year.

39-Hour Work Weeks

You may think working a 39-hour work week is nothing special and certainly not an advantage. But when you consider that the average full-time job requires men to work over 40 hours per week, you may change your mind.

The more your advance your career in contracting, the fewer hours you may have to work. The average work week for all contractors, including supervisors, is 38.5 hours. Compare that to the average work week for non-supervisory contractors, which is 39.5 hours.

Who Needs a Contractor License in Texas?

Building contractors, handymen, and home improvement specialists do not have to have professional licensing in Texas at the state level, but local regulations may still apply. Plumbers, electricians, and HVAC professionals, however, have to obtain a state-issued license.

HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical Professionals Need Texas State Licenses

The Lone Star State requires HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors to obtain a Texas state license. We will discuss the specific licensing requirements for these professionals later.

But, in general, you must take courses and pass a state exam to get your HVAC, plumbing, or electrical contractor license.

General Contractors and Handymen Do Not Need Texas State Licenses

Unlike most states in the US, you do not need a license to offer general contractor services in Texas. The same is true of Texas handymen and home improvement contractors.

However, depending on where you plan to offer your services, you may need a local contractor business license, permit, or other authorization. More on this later.

What Are the Contractor Licensing Authorities in Texas?

The Texas state contractor licensing board you must go through depends on your specialty. We will discuss the two top state licensing boards below. Plus, we will give a brief explanation of local licensing boards.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation is known as TDLR. This is the licensing authority you would go through if you want to be an HVAC or electrical contractor.

This licensing authority also regulates the water well drilling contractor profession.

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners

The Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) regulates plumbing professions. If you want to be a plumber or plumbing contractor, you would have to apply for a license through the TSBPE.

Your Local Texas Contractor Licensing Board

As mentioned, general contractors, handymen, home improvement professionals, and other non-specialty builders do not need state licenses. But you may need a local license, depending on where you live.

Even if your city does not require you to get licensed, you can set yourself apart from the competition with a local license. You would then need to take and pass a licensing exam, plus apply for a construction contract bond.

How Much Does a Contractor License Cost in Texas?

You have to pay to take the exam to become a state-licensed contractor in Texas. Sometimes, you may also or alternatively need to pay a state licensing fee.

The cost of the exam and/or license fee varies by specialty, ranging from $30 all the way up to $345. We will discuss more on the cost for each specific contractor license in a moment.

General Contractor Local Licensing Requirements

General home improvement contractors, as well as handymen and other builders, do not need state licenses in Texas. However, some cities require these professionals to meet certain requirements.

Call your local contractor or business association to learn more. Or check out the requirements in Texas' four largest cities.

Houston Contractor Requirements

Houston does not require general contractors to hold a license or register with the city. However, you must register your business with the state of Texas.

Austin Contractor Requirements

All contractors must register with the city and the state of Texas to work in Austin. To register with the city, head to the Development Services Department's website.

Dallas Contractor Requirements

Contractors do not have to register with the city of Dallas unless they hold a state license. However, you may have to register to work within the city limits.

Visit the Dallas Building Inspection Department's Contractor Portal to learn more.

San Antonio Contractor Requirements

In San Antonio, all contractors must register with the city. You only have to register with the state of Texas if you hold a state license.

Texas Contractor License Requirements for HVAC Professionals

HVAC contractors work on residential and business heating and AC units. These are the types of licenses, license requirements, and licensing costs you need to know to get an HVAC contractor license in Texas.

Types of HVAC Contractor State Licenses

HVAC contractors can apply for two different state licenses: Class A and Class B. Class A licenses cover professionals who work on HVACs of all sizes. Class B licenses cover contractors who work on:

  • AC systems weighing up to 25 tons
  • Heating systems handling up to 1.5 BTUs per hour

The good news is that both of these licenses have similar requirements, which we will outline next.

HVAC Contractor State License Requirements

To receive a Class A or Class B HVAC contractor license in Texas, you must be 18 years of age or older. You must have at least 48 months of work experience, education, or a combination of the two.

Texas HVAC professionals must also take and pass the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration licensing exam. Once you pass the test, you can submit your application and proof of general liability insurance.

HVAC Contractor Licensing Costs

It costs $115 to get your HVAC contractor license in Texas.

Your company's general liability insurance is also a cost to consider here. You must obtain coverage of $100,000 per occurrence if you hold a Class B license. You must obtain coverage of $300,000 if you hold a Class A license.

Plumbing Contractor License Requirements in Texas

Plumbing contractors work on residential and business pipes. These are the types of licenses, license requirements, and licensing costs you need to know to get a plumbing contractor license in Texas.

Types of Plumbing Contractor State Licenses

Texas offers four different types of plumbing contractor licenses, depending on your experience. These licenses include those for Tradesmen, Journeymen, Master Plumbers, and Plumbing Inspectors.

Each of these licenses has specific requirements. More on these requirements next.

Plumbing Contractor State License Requirements

To get a Tradesman plumbing contractor license, you must have 4,000 hours of experience. You must also complete a TSBPE-approved 24-hour training course and pass the Tradesman Plumber-Limited Examination.

To get a Journeyman plumbing contractor license in Texas, you must have 8,000 hours of experience. You must also complete a TSBPE-approved 48-hour training course and pass the Journeyman Plumber Examination.

To get a Master plumber license in Texas, you must have a high school diploma or GED. You must have held your Texas Journeyman license for at least one year or a license from another state for at least four years. Then, you must pass the Master Plumber Examination.

To get a Plumbing Inspector license in Texas, you must have a high school diploma or GED. You must also currently hold a Texas license as a Master Plumber, Journeyman, professional engineer, or architect. Then, you must pass the Plumbing Inspector Examination.

Plumbing Contractor Licensing Costs

The Tradesman Plumber-Limited Examination costs $36. Once you pass the exam, you must also pay a $35 licensing fee.

The Journeyman Plumber Examination costs $40. You have to pay an additional $40 upon passing the exam to receive your license.

The Master Plumber Examination costs $175. You must pay $75 to obtain your license once you pass the exam.

The Plumbing Inspector Examination costs $55. Once you pass your exam, you must pay another $55 to receive your license.

Texas Electrician Contractor License Requirements

Electrical contractors work on power lines, telecommunication lines, lighting systems, and more. These are the types of licenses, license requirements, and licensing costs you need to know to get a Texas electrical contractor license.

Types of Electric Contractor State Licenses

There are dozens of different electrical contractor licenses in Texas. As such, we will discuss the most common license contractors get, the Journeyman Electrician license.

Electric Contractor State License Requirements

To obtain your Journeyman Electrician license, you have to be 18 years of age or older. You must also have at least 8,000 hours of experience. And this experience must happen under the supervision of a Master Electrician.

You must also take and pass the Texas Electrician Licensing Exam. Once you pass it, you can apply for your license.

Electric Contractor Licensing Costs

It costs $30 to get a Journeyman Electrician license in Texas. This fee covers the cost of the license application.

Looking for Texas Contractor License Application Assistance?

Contractors in Texas have great career prospects. But you may need to obtain your Texas state license first. HVAC, plumbing, and electrical contractors must have a state license to offer their services in the Lone Star State.

Are you gearing up to apply for your contractor license in Texas? 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 state licensing expert at the link below to sort out all the details and apply with ease!