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A How-To Guide for Getting A Colorado Contractor’s License

5-minute read

Getting a contractor’s license in Colorado lets you work on larger projects, like this contractor working on framing a house.
Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson

2 December 2019

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Do you want to own a construction or handyman business? A lot of people do.

After all, licensed contractors can make a lot of money. And the profession allows you to enjoy flexible hours, choose your customers, see tangible results, and avoid a desk job.

Sounds like the dream, huh?

But before you take the leap, you need to get a contractor’s license. As you start the process, you’ll notice there’s a ton of confusing information out there. To help, we’ve done the research. All you need to do is follow these steps.

Why Do I Need to Become a Licensed Contractor in Colorado?

Do you work as an electrician or plumber? If so, it’s the law for you to get a license before doing any work in Colorado. If you don’t, you could risk time in jail or a hefty fine. Yikes.

To avoid criminal penalties, head over to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). You’ll need to pass an exam, provide proof of experience, and fill out the required paperwork.

It’s worth the effort. Pretty soon, you’ll carry an official title and get the high-paying work to boot. Plus, getting a license in Colorado has a ton of other benefits:

  • It helps you land bigger, higher-paying jobs. Right now, you can probably do small, handyman projects, like door framing, grouting, and caulking. But you can earn more by getting a license and diving into specialized electrical and plumbing work.
  • It gives you a stamp of approval — and credibility. People want to hire someone they trust. After all, you’re doing work on their homes and businesses. A license makes you look professional and trustworthy to potential customers.
  • It protects your business. Think about the value of your equipment — or imagine if an employee got injured on the job. If you get a license, you’ll need to buy general liability and other business insurance, like workers’ compensation. Business insurance protects you and your employees in case there’s a loss or injury. And, truthfully, you never know what can happen.

Not an electrician or plumber? Other trades, including general contractors, can get their licenses through local municipal departments. The process is a little different in every city and county in Colorado.

But don’t worry. We’ll walk you through the details, so you can jump into it right away.

Applying for a CO Contractor’s License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare free insurance quotes for policies as low as $25.95/month.*

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

First off, it’s not as overwhelming as it appears. We’ll talk about getting a state license for electrical and plumbing professions. Then, we’ll cover getting a general contractor’s license in Colorado’s largest city, Denver.

General Requirements for Licensure

Electricians

What kind of license do you want? The requirements are different depending on if you’re a:

  • Residential wireman: You’ll need 4,000 hours of residential only experience earned in no less than 2 years.
  • Journeyman electrician: You need 8,000 hours of experience earned in no less than 4 years, 4,000 hours in commercial/industrial work, and 288 hours of classroom experience.
  • Master electrician: You’ll need to have:
  • Graduated as an electrical engineer from an accredited college or university AND have 2,000 hours of construction experience earned in no less than 1 year; or
  • Graduated from an electrical trade school or community college AND have 8,000 hours of experience earned in no less than 4 years; or
  • All of the requirements to be a journeyman electrician, plus 2,000 hours of experience earned in no less than 1 year. Some of these hours need to be in planning and layout, while others have to be in supervision while holding a journeyman electrician license.

Start the application process by applying online here . You’ll also need:

Plumbers

If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and become a plumber, you’ll need this experience first:

  • Residential plumber: At least 2 years (3,400 hours) of on-the-job experience
  • Journeyman plumber: 4 years of experience (6,800 hours) of practical experience
  • Master plumber: At least 5 full-time years of experience (8,500 hours)

Keep in mind: 1 month of full-time experience is 163 hours.

It’s fairly simple to apply online here . In your application, you’ll also need:

  • A $210 nonrefundable application fee paid by credit card or an electronic check.
  • Proof that you carry unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance.
  • A completed Acknowledgment of Responsibility form. Because it’s all done online, you can send in your paperwork together and check the status online.

Business license

If you’re planning on working for yourself (and let’s face it, for many that’s the dream), then you need to get a business license with Colorado’s Secretary of State . Be prepared to share proof of insurance, a tax ID, and to complete other necessary paperwork with the state. Next up — learn how to get your local contracting license.

Business insurance

It’s a requirement and for good reason. General liability and other business insurance plans, like workers’ compensation, protect your company in case there’s an accident or loss. Take time to research carriers and find a top-notch plan that will support you if anything goes wrong.

2. Do you need additional contractor’s licenses?

It’s very likely, but it depends on where you work. Every city and county in Colorado handles the licensing process a little differently. When in doubt, check with your local municipal department before doing any work.

To help, we’ll cover how to get a general contractor’s license in Denver. In this city, you’re required to carry a license before you can pull a permit — a basic requirement before doing any work.

Denver

Head to the Devener Community Planning and Development office, which handles all contractor’s licenses. Then:

  • Download the application form .
  • Fill out and attach the required paperwork for your business type. It’s different for corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietors.
  • Review the extra requirements for electricians, plumbers, and fire protection contractors. You’ll need to show your state certifications.
  • Pay the licensing fee.

Now it’s time to send it in! And Denver makes it pretty easy. You can send in the application:

  • In person by visiting the 2nd floor of the Webb Municipal Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver.
  • By mail to Contractor Licensing, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Dept. 205, Denver, CO 80202.

Nice job. Now it’s time to wait for your license. If you sent your application online or in-person, it takes about 7 to 10 business days to review. If you mailed it in, it takes up to 14 business days to review. Have more questions about getting a contractor’s license in Colorado? Send us a comment! We’re here to help you out.

And, remember your first step to getting a license — shopping for a solid business insurance plan, such as general liability insurance. It’s typically a requirement, but it’s also one of the smartest things you can do for your business.

Monthly payment calculations (i) do not include initial premium down payment and (ii) may vary by state, insurance provider, and nature of your business. Averages based on Q1 2020 data of 10% of our total policies sold.

Emily Thompson

Written by

Emily Thompson

I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.

This content is for general, informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting, or financial advice. Please obtain expert advice from industry specific professionals who may better understand your business’s needs. Read our full disclaimer

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