Have you thought about becoming a general contractor, but you don't know how to get your contractor's license? Are you curious to learn more about the education and experience requirements needed to kick off your career as a general contractor?
Did you know that the job outlook for a construction manager is expected to grow 11% within the next ten years? That is faster than average, which means there will always be a need for contractors in the United States.
If you are ready to learn more about the requirements you must meet to become a general contractor, please continue reading below! We will cover all you need to know about being a licensed contractor and whom you can contact for more information.
What Is a Licensed Contractor?
As a contractor, you have the know-how, training, and background knowledge to complete a job. You can apply for and pass a licensing exam to obtain your contractor's license to give yourself a competitive edge.
A licensed contractor is primarily responsible for supervising an entire construction project. This could be anything from constructing a room add-on, building a new property or office building, landscaping services, or other types of home improvement.
As a licensed contractor, you also have to handle scheduling subcontractors and staying compliant with building codes. To qualify, you must have the skills and experience needed to run the everyday activities of a construction business.
Advantages of Having a Contractor’s License
With a contractor's license, you will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace for construction, home improvement, and renovation construction contracts. More homeowners and other business owners prefer to hire contractors who have licenses.
As a licensed contractor, you can prove to your clients that you have the expertise needed to complete the job correctly. It also lets them know that you've met your state's requirements to operate as a licensed contractor.
In addition to proving your credibility, having your contractor's license also allows you to take on higher-paying jobs. When you have a license, you can ask clients to pay more per hour or per job. Clients are usually willing to pay more, especially if you have the licensing to show you know what you're doing.
Attracts Higher Quality Talent
No one wants to work for a company that doesn't have proper licensing or expertise, especially if they themselves already hold a license in their specialty. They want to make sure you know what you're talking about and that you understand how to work.
How to Get Your Contractor’s License in Virginia
If you are in Virginia and want to obtain your contractor license, you must first set up your contractor business. This means that you will need to create a business entity and register your business name with the state.
You can form your business into an LLC, sole proprietorship, or other option. Make sure that you look over the different classes of business entities before you file your paperwork. Some business entities have more benefits than others.
Virginia Contractor License Type
There are three different classes of contractor licenses in Virginia: Class A, B, and C. The main difference between the classes is the monetary restrictions for projects you can take.
For example, there are no monetary restrictions with a Class A license. Class B contractor licenses restrict the contractor to only taking projects with a value of less than $120,000 per project. You also can only take up to $750,000 worth of performed contracts each year.
Class C contractor licenses restrict you to only taking projects worth $10,000 each. The yearly cap for this class is $150,000 in performed contracts each year.
Minimum Equity Requirements
There are minimum equity requirements for Class A and Class B. In order to get your Class A license, you must prove at least $45,000 of equity with a surety bond or a financial statement form.
For those wishing to obtain a Class B designation, you must at least have $15,000 worth of equity. This can also be in the form of a bond or a financial statement form.
Contractor Class A Requirements
Before selecting your class, there are a few requirements you must meet. For example, if you plan on applying for a Class A contractor license, you must have at least five years of experience working as a contractor.
Additional requirements include:
- Completing an 8-hour pre-licensing course
- Passing the Virginia, General, and Advanced required exams
- Passing a specialty trade exam
Once you have your paperwork ready to go, you can submit it to the Contractor State License Board. Make sure that you include your required documentation that showcases your experience in addition to your surety bond.
Class B Contractor
As you may have guessed at this point, the order of classification goes from highest to lowest. With Class B being lower than Class A, you won't need much experience.
You only need three years of experience as a contractor, and you only need to pass two exams: the Virginia state exam and the general exam. Make sure that you take your 8-hours pre-licensing course. As mentioned earlier, you must submit proof of your $15,000 surety bond.
Class C Contractor
If you only have a couple of years of experience, you can apply for a Class C license. It only requires you to have two years of contractor experience. You must take the required eight-hour pre-licensing course, and you will need to pass a specialty trade exam.
When submitting your application, you must choose your license specialty. Depending on the type of work, you may need to obtain more than one license. For example, if you are a general contractor who also does swimming pool and spa installation, you should have an additional license.
Common license specialties include:
- Well drilling
- Elevator mechanics
You have the opportunity to review specialty options on the third page of your Virginia Contractor Application. It will also explain the different requirements of each specialty.
Complete Your Pre-License Education Course
As mentioned earlier, you will need to complete a pre-licensing course before you can sit for your exam. When looking for a pre-license education course provider, ensure they have accreditation and approval from the DPOR. A reputable company will have all the materials you need to pass your NASCLA Exam.
Once you complete your education course, you will need to provide that information to the DPOR so they can confirm your courses. Without this information, they will not approve your application.
Pass Your Exam
You will need to sign up for your exam through PSI as they are the primary administrators for the exam. Make sure that you study well in advance and take a few practice exams before sitting for your test.
If you fail your exam, you have two more attempts. You don't have to wait a certain amount of time before you can schedule your second or third attempt. If you fail the third time, you will need to wait one year before you can take the exam.
Submit Your Completed Application
Once you pass your exam, you can complete your contractor state license board application. Be sure to carefully read through the document and attach any necessary required documentation. You will also need to pay your licensing fee at that time.
It typically takes the state about 30 days to process your application. Depending on their current volume, you may receive your license sooner or later. If approved, they will mail your license to your listed address.
General Contractor License Requirements in Other States
Although we went a bit more into detail on how to get your license in Virginia, we will briefly discuss the requirements put in place for other states. Not every state requires its general contractors to hold a license. For example, in Texas, you don't necessarily need to obtain a license at the state level.
There may be specific licensing requirements at the local level, so you will need to check in with your local city and county government. In Texas, if your job involves any HVAC, plumbing, or electrical work, you will need a state license.
Tennessee General Contractor Requirements
In Tennessee, you must carry a state license and be registered with the state before you can bid or negotiate projects worth more than $25,000. This applies to any general contractor who performs construction, installation, or repair of highways and public utilities.
You must pass business, law, and trade exams in addition to proving three years of relevant work experience. The state may also audit your financial statements.
South Carolina Contractor Requirements
You will need a state license if you plan on working on projects totaling more than $5,000. There are two main types of licenses issued by the South Carolina Department of Labor: general contractor's license and mechanical contractor's license.
If you wish to apply for these licenses, you must present an audited financial statement or have a surety bond. You also need two years of experience within the last five years, and you must pass the state's law, trade, and business exams.
North Carolina Contractor Requirements
General contractors are required to carry a state license if their projects exceed $30,000. Several different classifications of licenses are available in North Carolina, including building contractors, highway contractors, and public utility contractors.
These classifications are then further divided into unlimited and limited sections. These sections depend on the scope of work your business plans on doing.
For example, limited projects only allow you to work on projects less than $500,000. Intermediate projects are projects of less than $1 million. Unlimited projects are, well, unlimited. Regardless of which classification you wish to apply for, you must pass license, board, and trade exams.
New Mexico General Contractor Requirements
In New Mexico, you must have your state license and register with the state before taking on any projects. Before you can apply, you will need four years of experience in the field.
If you have a degree or some form of education, you can use two of those educational years instead. Make sure that you also pass your exams and show proof of insurance.
The Importance of Licensure and Insurance
As you now know, having your license can provide you with an upper hand over those who don't have their license. You may be able to earn higher-paid jobs, and you have an additional level of credibility.
Licensing is also a possible safety issue. As mentioned earlier, more businesses and homeowners will most likely want to work with someone who has their license. If you plan to open your own business, you will want to make sure your subcontractors have proper licenses and insurance policies.
In addition to having your license, you must have a surety bond in place or some proof of insurance. This isn't just a state requirement but also a precautionary move.
In the event that your subcontractor messes up at the work scene or you damage someone's property, you're going to want to have insurance in place. If you don't, there is a significant chance that the other party may sue you for any damages.
Pass Your Exams With Flying Colors
Now that you know how to get your contractor's license, it's time to get to work! The job growth for general contractors is something that will constantly be on the rise, especially as our population continues to grow.
There will always be a demand for construction managers to oversee construction projects, which means you will always have opportunities. If you need help with studying for your exam and want high-quality resources, check out our website today. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us!
Contractor Training Center has state licensing specialists on board ready to help answer all your state contractor licensing questions! Book a 30-Minute Start-Up Consultation with a Licensing Expert at the link below.