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A Guide To Getting a Contractor License in Texas

Do you want to become a licensed contractor, handyman, or home renovator in Texas - but not exactly sure how to get started?

You’re not alone. There’s a lot of conflicting details out there, so if you’re not looking at the right source, you could end up with the wrong information. Plus, finding all of the information you need on various government sites can take up time you might not have, especially if you’re already building your business or are in a training program.

That’s why I did the research for you! Check out my simple guide on how to get your Texas contractor license.

Getting a Contractor License in Texas: What You Need to Know

  1. Builders, home improvement specialists, and handyman services are all set.

    The good news here: If you’re interested in becoming a general contractor, handyman, or any other type of builder, the state of Texas doesn’t require you to get a contractor license. That’s right: Unlike in other states, there’s no need to take an exam or submit paperwork to be a contractor!

    Fun fact: Once upon a time, home improvement builders had to register their businesses with Texas, but there’s no longer any requirement to become licensed. So if your focus is just on being a builder or general contractor, congrats; you’re all set at the state level.

    However, notice that I said at the state level; in just a moment, I’ll show you why you still may need to apply for a license or a permit for your business.

  2. Plumbers, electricians, and other trades need a state-wide license.

    If you’re a contractor who plans on specializing in or offering the following trades as a secondary service, the state of Texas requires you to apply for a contractors license:

    HVAC services Plumbing Electrical work

    I’ll provide a brief overview of the steps you’ll need to take to get each license, but if you need more information, just click on the links I’ll put in each contractor licensing summary.

    HVAC Contractor: There are two types of HVAC contractor licenses you can apply for in Texas:

    Class A: You can work on HVAC equipment of any size unit; and Class B: You can work on cooling systems of 25 tons and under, and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour and under.

    In order to qualify for either of these HVAC licenses, you need to be at least 18 years of age, have at least 48 months of work or educational experience, and have passed the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration licensing exam. If the thought of taking an exam makes you break out into a nervous sweat, don’t worry; it’s a pretty straightforward exam that’s just meant to test your basic competency in your trade.

    Once you’ve passed the exam, download this application form and send it (along with the $115 license fee) to:

    Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
    PO Box 12157
    Austin, TX 78711-2157

    You’ll also need to submit proof that you have general liability insurance for your HVAC business; depending on the license class you’ve selected, you’ll need a minimum coverage of at least $100,000.

    Learn more about what HVAC contractor insurance you may need.

    Plumbing Contractor: There are four different types of plumbing licenses you could apply for, including:

    • Tradesman Plumber-Limited
    • Journeyman
    • Master
    • Plumbing Inspector

    Each specific license type has its own requirements, but in general, you’ll need to be a citizen or national of the United States, have a minimum of 4,000+ hours of experience, and have gone through specific educational courses in order to apply. It’s really important to understand the differences in requirements, so click here if you want to dive deeper into the license you want to apply for.

    If you meet the requirements of your specific license, you’ll need to pass an exam that pertains to that license (for example, the Journeyman Exam, the Master Exam, etc.). You can register to apply for your particular exam here.

    Once you’ve passed your exam, you’ll be able to apply online for your specific Plumbing Contractor license.

    Electrician: To become a licensed electrician in Texas, you’ll need to register with the same Licensing Board that handles HVAC licensing. Because there are so many different electrician licenses you could apply for, let’s focus on the one that comes after being an apprentice: the Journeyman Electrician license.

    In order to qualify for this license, you’ll need to be at least 18 years of age, have at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job training under a master electrician, and have passed the Electrician licensing exam. You’ll need to submit proof of your experience along with your application; once this experience has been approved, you’ll be sent a postcard with instructions on how to take your Electrician licensing exam.

    Once you’ve passed the exam, download this application form and send it (along with the $30 license fee) to:

    Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
    PO Box 12157
    Austin, TX 78711-2157

  3. You may need to apply for licensing and permits within your city.

    This is where Texas really differs from other states, as your contracting requirements will largely be determined by the city you’re operating in. And no two cities have the same requirements, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to understand how your project location affects your business.

    It’s an understatement to say that there are a lot of cities in Texas, so here’s a quick shortcut to what licensing you may need for your particular city:

    Go to the Texas Municipal League’s City website. Scroll through and click on the city where you’re working. You’ll be taken to that city’s government website. Search for “contractor license requirements”.

    Each city website is different, so you might have to switch up this strategy to find what you’re looking for. But it’s a good way to ensure you’re covering all your bases, and that your contracting business won’t get fined.

  4. Be aware of insurance and bond requirements.

    Whether you’re required to get your Texas contractor license or just need to pull a permit in your city, stay alert to any insurance or bond requirements you might have. For example, some cities may require you to have minimum general liability insurance coverage, while others may ask you to have both insurance coverage and a construction bond.

Got more questions about getting your Texas contractor license? Let me know in the comments below!

Once licensed, don’t forget to run a contractors insurance quote to ensure you’re covered.

Mariah Bliss

Written By

Mariah Bliss
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!

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