How to Obtain Your Contractor’s Certification and License with Online Resources

By eLearning Inside
June 28, 2021

There are many benefits to working in the skilled trades. For example, a trade school doesn’t cost as much as a four-year college; with on-site training, you’re likely to get a job right after completion of your chosen academic program; there are always going to be trade jobs available and they’ll never be outsourced; plus, trade jobs pay just as much, and sometimes even more than a lot of jobs that require bachelor’s degrees.

General contractors and construction managers are some of the highest-paid workers in the skilled trades, and it’s a job in high demand. It’s also fairly easy to get started in this field and become a licensed contractor. Here are a few things you need to do in order to obtain and maintain your contractor’s license.

Decide What Type of Contractor You’d Like to Be

There are two main types of contractors, and they include a general contractor (performs construction and oversees building projects) and a specialized contractor, or subcontractor (a specialization in carpentry, electrical, HVAC, or plumbing). There are different educational and licensing requirements for these types of contractors.

Choose a School

Once you’ve chosen what type of contracting work you’d like to do, it’s time to choose a trade school. You should choose a trade school that offers the specific type of work you want to do, but most trade schools offer all of these types of specializations. Some schools may offer online courses, while others have in-person classes.

You should also decide if you would, in fact, like to attend a four-year college. Although it is not necessary, general contractors or construction managers can earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management. It will cost more to pursue this degree, but general contractors can make up to $90,000 per year, so it’s a pretty good trade-off.


In some states, neither a degree nor a trade school is needed to become a contractor. There are several apprenticeship programs that allow you to work alongside a professional, learning and experiencing the work required in your chosen field.

Obtain Your License

Once you’ve completed your education and training requirements, it’s time to apply for your license. While many states don’t actually require a license for specific types of contracting work, most local jurisdictions do.

Wherever you plan on working, be sure to know the licensing requirements before you start any work. The process of and requirements for obtaining a license can differ by state, but some things that may be required of you can include:

  • Showing proof of insurance (this is especially important if you plan on owning your own construction business).
  • Showing proof of a surety bond (a guarantee that all responsibilities and obligations will be completed).
  • Providing financial statements.
  • Showing proof of a certain number of years of experience in your chosen field.
  • Passing all exams.

Keep Your License Up to Date

Many occupations require a yearly (give or take) license renewal in the form of continued education to ensure that you’re certified to work as a contractor. It is important to know when your license expires, so you won’t fall behind on renewal dates and end up working unlicensed.


Pursuing a simple license and certification can be a great alternative to attending a four-year college. However, within this field, you have the option of pursuing a higher degree with the benefit of an exceptionally well-paying job. The steps it takes to become a licensed contractor are pretty simple, but you do have to do your research.

You even have the option of starting your own business, which takes additional research. The main thing to remember with both of these options is to make sure that you check with your state’s, as well as your city’s, licensing and permit requirements, and the requirements of any place you may be doing construction work in.

Featured Image: Greyson Joralemon, Unsplash.