Licensing 101: A State-by-State Guide to Contractor License Requirements

contractor licensing requirements by state

A contractor must have the proper local and state licensing in order to perform demolition work. Hiring a contractor who isn't licensed could lead to fines, an unsafe work environment, or removal of your project without warning or compensation.

Contractor licensing requirements vary from state-to-state—and some state's leave licensing up to cities and counties entirely—so check out your state’s licensing requirements below.


Licensing Overview

Generally, a contractor must have a license to perform the following work:

  • Demolition
  • Construction/Remodeling
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Gas
  • HVAC
  • Hazardous waste remediation (including asbestos)

In some states, you only need a license if a project costs more than a certain dollar amount, including materials, labor, etc. If your state doesn't list a certain dollar amount, then there is no minimum or maximum in place.

Licensing vs. Registration

Some states require contractors be licensed, while other states simply require contractors be registered.

  • Licensing: requires passing exams & meeting criteria to prove competency
  • Registration: a written record of who is performing the work; doesn't require passing exams or meeting criteria to prove competency

Your contractor’s license number should always be readily available.

If a contractor's license number is not listed on their website or social media, any quote sheet or contract should show the contractor’s license number on the first page. If you don’t see it, this is a red flag. ( Protect yourself! Find out the other 4 red flags and understand the importance of bonding, license, and insurance.) Never be afraid to ask a contractor for their license number.


Find Your State Requirements

Alabama Hawaii Massachusetts New Mexico South Dakota
Alaska Idaho Michigan New York Tennessee
Arizona Illinois Minnesota North Carolina Texas
Arkansas Indiana Mississippi North Dakota Utah
California Iowa Missouri Ohio Vermont
Colorado Kansas Montana Oklahoma Virginia
Connecticut Kentucky Nebraska Oregon Washington
Delaware Louisiana Nevada Pennsylvania West Virginia
Florida Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Wisconsin
Georgia Maryland New Jersey South Carolina Wyoming

Alabama

In Alabama, general contractors and subcontractors must have a license to perform residential & commercial work that exceeds $50,000. For swimming pool removals & construction, a license is required for work that exceeds $5,000.

License Classifications:

  • Class A - Not to exceed $100,000.00
  • Class B - Not to exceed $250,000.00
  • Class C - Not to exceed $500,000.00
  • Class D - Not to exceed $1,000,000.00
  • Class E - Not to exceed $3,000,000.00
  • Class U - Unlimited

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Alaska

In Alaska, residential contractors must successfully complete the Alaska Craftsman Home Program (ACHP) or its equivalent, or a post-secondary course in Arctic engineering or its equivalent. You have to complete the course within two years before you apply for a license. Non-residential contractors are not required to take an exam.

A Certificate of Fitness for the Trades is required for plumbing, electrical, asbestos abatement, hazardous paint, boilers, and explosives.

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Arizona

In Arizona, contractors must be licensed in order to build, demolish, alter, repair, add to, subtract from, improve, or move any building, road, or other structure. They must be licensed before submitting bids.

The term "contractor" includes subcontractors, floor contractors, landscape contractors, and consultants or construction project managers.

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Learn more about demolition & what to expect...


Arkansas

In Arkansas, a residential contractor must be licensed by the Residential Contractors Committee if the total project cost exceeds $50,000. However, homeowners are not required to get a license when doing work themselves.

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California

California requires a license for projects whose costs exceed $500; however, there are many license classifications for the different types of work. For demolition and building moving, a C21 license is required, but there are different licenses required for asbestos abatement, swimming pool demolition, electrical work, concrete work, and more.

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LEARN MORE: Demo A to Z: A Guide to Demolition in Los Angeles


Colorado

Colorado does not have state-level licensing requirements (except for electrical and plumbing licenses). Instead, you should check for license requirements at the local level.

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Connecticut

Home improvement and new home construction contractors must be certified in Connecticut, and anyone working on major projects must be registered.

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Delaware

In Delaware, contractors bidding on projects with a cost greater than $50,000 must apply for a license. 

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Florida

There are two license types in Florida: a "registered" license and a "certified" license. Contractors with a "certified" license are able to work anywhere in the state. A "registered" contractor's license is administered at the local level unless the county you want to perform work in requires a "certified" license.

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Georgia

Residential and general contractors in Georgia must be licensed under the Professional Licensing Boards Division. Within the agency, there are 41 licensing boards. These boards make all the decisions regarding licensing qualifications and complaints, so you'll want to contact your local licensing board for specific requirements.

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Hawaii

In Hawaii, general building, specialty, and engineering contractors must be licensed. In order to be licensed in Hawaii, you need:

  • Proof of workers' compensation insurance
  • Injury liability ($100,00 each person, $300,000 each occurrence)
  • Property damage liability ($50,000 each occurrence)
  • Place of business in Hawaii (post office box not accepted)
  • Pass an exam on business, law, and a trade

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Idaho

The state of Idaho doesn't license general contractors working on private sector residential or commercial projects; that's handled at the local level. However, plumbers, electricians, well drillers, fire protection sprinkler contractors, and public works contractors are licensed at the state level.

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Illinois

In Illinois, only roofing contractors need to be licensed.

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Indiana

Indiana only requires plumbers to be licensed. Before starting any work, check for license requirements at the local level.

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Iowa

Iowa requires almost all contractors be registered with the state, including...

  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Mechanical
  • Asbestos

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Kansas

The only state-level licensing that Kansas offers is for asbestos abatement and water well drilling. Construction and demolition contractors are not licensed at the state level, but you should check the local-level licensing requirements.

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Kentucky

In Kentucky, only plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors must be licensed.

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Louisiana

A Residential Building Contractor's license is required in Louisiana if the cost of the project is more than $50,000 and the structure is three stories or less. You'll need to get a Certificate of Good Standing from the Secretary of State, too.

In addition, contractors typically have to post a bond equal to 5% of the contract price for any lump sum or cost-plus contract. The minimum bond amount is $1,000.

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Maine

Maine does not require building contractors to be licensed. Only asbestos abatement, electrical work, and plumbing require licensing.

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Maryland

Maryland doesn't require general construction contractors to have a license. However, electrical work, plumbing, HVACR contracting, and home improvement work requires a license.

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Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, a license is required to supervise construction or demolition work, even for a team of one.

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Michigan

All contractors that perform residential or commercial work must be licensed in Michigan. That also includes electricians, plumbers, and HVAC contractors.

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Thinking about demolishing your swimming pool? Then you've got to check these out...


Minnesota

In Minnesota, residential builders and remodelers must be licensed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

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Mississippi

All contractors must have a certificate or license to offer services in Mississippi, with the exception of very small construction and remodeling projects.

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Missouri

Missouri does not license construction contractors on the state level. Instead, check with your city or county for local-level licensing requirements.

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Montana

In Montana, construction contractors and subcontractors are required to register with the Department of Labor and Industry if they have employees. If contractors don't have employees, they are not required to register.

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Nebraska

Nebraska requires contractors to be licensed if they are doing business in a county with a population of 100,000 or more. Non-residential contractors must register with the Nebraska Secretary of State and the Nebraska Department of Revenue. Electricians must be licensed, too. 

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Nevada

In order to even bid on a construction or demolition job, a contractor must be licensed in Nevada.

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New Hampshire

New Hampshire only requires certain types of specialty contractors to be licensed, including asbestos and lead abatement contractors, electricians, and plumbers.

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New Jersey

Licenses are required for plumbers, electricians, and home improvement contractors in New Jersey.

You must be registered in the state of New Jersey to do business as a home repair contractor. You must also...

  • be registered in order to build new homes
  • warrant each new home you build
  • provide warranty follow-up services

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New Mexico

New Mexico requires construction contractors to obtain a license.

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New York

In New York, all licensing is handled at the local level, except for asbestos abatement.

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LEARN MORE: Demo A to Z: A Guide to Demolition in NYC


North Carolina

General contractors must obtain a license from the North Carolina Licensing Board to work on projects that cost more than $30,000. North Carolina also requires licensing for electrical, plumbing, heating, and fire sprinkler contractors.

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North Dakota

North Dakota requires a license to work on a project costing $2,000 or more. Anyone working with asbestos needs to be properly trained and certified through the North Dakota Department of Health.

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Ohio

General construction contractors are licensed on the local level (if they exist at all). Check with your city or county to make sure you're aware of specific local licensing requirements.

Electrical, HVAC, refrigeration, plumbing, and hydronics work all requires a license on the state level within Ohio.

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Oklahoma

The only licensing Oklahoma does at the state level is for electrical, mechanical, and plumbing work. 

However, there are some special requirements for out-of-state contractors:

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Oregon

Oregon only requires that anyone performing construction work is registered with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.

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Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, construction contractors aren't licensed. However, a certificate or license is needed to perform asbestos abatement.

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Rhode Island

Some specialty trades must be licensed in Rhode Island, including:

  • Asbestos abatement
  • Electrical work
  • Mechanical work
  • Plumbing

To perform any demolition or construction work (i.e. build, repair, or remodel) on a one-to-four-family residential structure, the contractor has to register with the Contractors' Registration Board.

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South Carolina

In South Carolina, you must be licensed to perform...

  • Residential building costing $200 or more
  • Commercial building costing more than $5,000

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South Dakota

Only asbestos abatement, electrical, and plumbing contractors require licensing or certification in South Dakota.

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Tennessee

In Tennessee, there are various licensing requirements depending on the project cost and the work being done.

Before bidding on a project costing $25,000 or more, a general contractor must be licensed. 

Subcontractors performing electrical, mechanical, plumbing, roofing, or HVAC costing $25,000 or more, or masonry costing $100,000 or more, must be licensed as a contractor, too.

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Texas

Specialty contractors must be licensed in Texas, including:

  • plumbing
  • electrical
  • well drilling/pump installation
  • fire sprinkler systems

Although home builders aren't licensed, we advise checking with your city or county jurisdictions to ensure your contractor meets local requirements.

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Utah

You must be licensed to perform construction, plumbing, and electrical work in the state of Utah.

To obtain a license, contact the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

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Vermont

In Vermont, contractors are required to be licensed to perform electrical or plumbing work. Asbestos and lead abatement contractors must be certified.

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Virginia

Virginia state law requires having a trade license prior to performing or offering to perform:

  • asbestos abatement
  • lead abatement
  • electrical work
  • plumbing
  • HVAC
  • gas fitting

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Washington

Performing construction work in Washington requires registering with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries. Plumbers and electricians must be licensed, too.

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West Virginia

In West Virginia, construction contractors are required to have a license.

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Wisconsin

Wisconsin requires most residential builders, electricians, plumbers, and some specialty trades have a state credential prior to offering to perform work.

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Wyoming

The state of Wyoming requires everyone performing electrical work to be licensed. Other than that, all contractors are licensed at the city or county level.

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