How to Obtain a Contractor License:
A Step-by-Step Guide

If you'd like to legally operate as a contractor (general contractor, subcontractor, etc.), most states will require you to get a contractor license. Each state has their own unique requirements to get licensed, but you can get a general idea of the steps you'll need to take to get your license in most states below.
If you want to determine your state's exact licensing requirements, take a look at our comprehensive guide further down which offers state specific guides for getting your license.
Whether you need a general contractor license or a more specific license type, our guides will explain the exact steps you must take to get licensed.

How to Become a Contractor: Step-By-Step Guide

Step #1: Determine the Type of License You Need
Each state/municipality has their own unique requirements in order to get a contractor license, and they will vary depending on your exact location/the license type you need. Some of the most common contractor license types are:
  • General contractor license

  • Subcontractor license

  • Electrical contractor license

  • Plumbing contractor license

As mentioned above, requirements for getting a license can be drastically different across each state/municipality. For example, some locations may require a separate general contractor license, subcontractor license or specialty contractor license depending on the type of work you want to perform, and where you plan on performing your work. There are even instances where a state contractor license will be required of you in addition to a city license.
You have two options when it comes to determining the exact contractor license requirements you need to meet:

  • Option #1: Research/contact your state's contractor license board, and determine the licensing requirements you must meet. This method is often time consuming, as many states make it difficult to find the necessary licensing information online.


  • Option #2: As an alternative to researching your state's requirements on your own, you can find out the exact requirements to obtain your license by selecting your state below.


If you'd like to learn more general contractor information such as how much contractor's can earn, and how to determine the type of contractor you'd like to become, you can read our how to become a contractor guide.
Step #2: Study and Meet Legal Requirements
Once you have determined the requirements for your state and license type, you need to take the proper steps to meet them. Some of the most common requirements you'll have to meet include:
  • Submitting a criminal record check
  • Providing work history documentation
  • Providing proof of liability insurance
  • Passing your examination
As stated above, the requirements you must meet will vary depending on your location, and the exact license you need. Select your state below to find the exact requirements you must meet to obtain your contractor license.
Step #3: Obtain Your Contractor License Bond
This is the one requirement that most states have in place, and you'll likely need your bond in order to submit your license application. A contractor license bond protects your clients by ensuring you'll follow the regulations set by your state. You'll want to ensure you get your bond from a contractor license bond expert to avoid any headaches or delays.
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Step #4: Submit Your Contractor License Application
Your state's contractor license board will provide you the necessary applications and paperwork that you'll need to fill out. Simply complete the application and other related paperwork, and send it in to the state along with your contractor license bond. Be sure to double check all of your information before submitting it, as errors will likely increase turn around time for your licensing approval.
Step #5: Receive Your Contractor License
Once you submit all the required information, your state will review your application, and if approved, will send your license directly to you. This process may take a few weeks depending on your state/municipality.

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