How to Get Your Contractor’s License in Ohio

Original Image Source : Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA

UPDATE TO GUIDE (9/13/17): An updated and more detailed guide has been created for how to get your Ohio contractor license.

Are you considering a contractor’s business in Ohio? Then you should keep in mind that contractor licensing in Ohio has some specificities and differences from other states. To be well prepared, read on for some useful tips on how to get your license.

Unlike many other states, Ohio does not require general contractors to get a license. This applies both for residential and commercial construction. However, a license is required for some specialty contractors. Namely:

  • Electrical contractors

  • HVAC contractors

  • Hydronics contractors

  • Plumbing contractors

  • Refrigeration contractors

General contractors, though, might need to get registered or licensed with the local administration in their county or city. Often, there are specific requirements that they need to meet depending on where they’re based.

The basics of your Ohio contractor’s license

Contractors in Ohio need to get licensed

Contractors in Ohio need to get licensed

If you are working in one of the five commercial specialty contractors’ fields that need an Ohio contractor’s license, then you have to go through the licensing process outlined by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB).

The conditions for obtaining a license include experience in the specialty for five years as a tradesperson, for three years as a registered engineer, or for three years as a business person. You also need to get liability insurance for $500,000, and undergo a criminal background check. You can find all the details about these requirements on the OCILB’s website.

You will have to pass an examination in the specialty for which you would like to get licensed, plus a general Business and Law exam. The test application package has to be filled out and notarized and should be submitted along with a $25 non-refundable fee. On the OCILB’s website you can review the testing materials for each specialty and for the Business and Law exam.

If you are a general contractor based in Ohio, then you will have to individually check the requirements of the city and county in which you want to operate. It is likely that you will have to get a local license or permit. The usual process includes completing an application form, posting a contractor license bond and obtaining liability insurance.

Getting bonded

Contractors in Ohio need to get a surety bond to obtain their license

Contractors in Ohio need to get a surety bond to obtain their license

While there is no requirement for specialty contractors licensed by the OCILB to post a contractor’s license bond, such a bond might be required of general contractors by local authorities.

In case you do need to post a contractor license bond, you need to check the amount with the county or city administration requiring it. Remember, though, that you need to pay only a percentage of the bonding amount.  This is called the bond premium.

There are other cases in which you might also need to get surety bonds. If you are bidding on public projects, for instance, you will be required to post bid bonds and performance and payment bonds. These contract bonds are project-specific.

As a general reminder, the surety bond is not a protection for your business like insurance is. It is a guarantee that your contractor business will follow the rules and regulations of the state or local authority. Thus, the bond is a safety net for the general public that might engage your services.

Whichever bond you need, you can apply online and get a quote instantly, so that you can quickly satisfy the bonding requirement.

Get started today

Once you have identified and acquired the specific bonds required by local authorities in Ohio or by the public projects on which you are bidding, you can safely start your business operations. If you would like more clarification about these bonds, make sure to contact us.



van ward

How do I find out if a roofing contractor is licensed? If he is how do I file a complaint?

Kyle Winters

Wow, I had no idea that so much effort and work had to go into getting a contractor’s license. It does make sense though, considering that you’d be working in people’s houses and needing to make sure they stay safe. I’d imagine that you’d want to work very closely with the permitting service when you’re applying for your license just to make sure that everything is on the up and up.


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