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A How-To Guide for Getting A Montana Contractors License

3-minute read

Getting a contractor’s license in Montana lets you work on customers’ homes, like this contractor hammering a nail.
Emily Thompson

Emily Thompson

3 December 2019

Sitting behind a desk isn’t your thing. But dealing with tools? Now you’re talking. Whether you’re a contractor now or you’ve always wanted to be one, I’m here to help you get through the licensing process.

Be warned: there’s a ton of information out there, and it can get confusing. This step-by-step guide will help you learn about the licensing process in Montana and help you get your credentials without a lot of hassle.

Ready to get started? Read on!

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

You might be wondering, is a license worth the effort? In Montana, it is. If you do paid contracting work without a license, you could get fined up to \$500 per violation.

But there are a lot of other good reasons to get a license. In fact, it’s really good for your business. Here’s why:

  • A license shows you’re trustworthy and professional. When you register with the state, you have to provide information about your experience and training. Not everyone can get a license. It takes time and effort, which means that licensed contractors are more credible.
  • A license opens you up to higher-paying work. Licensed contractors can do very well financially. After you get your license, you’ll be featured in the state’s database of licensed professionals. Think of it as free advertising—homeowners will be able to find you, just from looking at the list.
  • A license ensures you get business insurance. If you’re doing handyman or construction work, getting business insurance is key. A general liability insurance plan can help protect your business in the event of an accident or loss. And if you have employees, you need workers’ compensation insurance too. The truth is, you never know what can happen, and all of these plans can protect you.

Sold on getting licensed yet? I hope so. Next, let’s take a look at how licensing works.

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

The first step—head to the Montana Department of Labor & Industry to learn about licensing. There you’ll discover the two different types of licenses to choose from:

  • Construction contractor’s license : Choose this license if you’re a contractor or subcontractor with employees who either owns or works for a business.
  • Independent contractor’s license : Choose this license if you plan to do contracting work and independently own your business. With this option, you’ll elect not to cover yourself under Montana’s Worker’s Compensation Policy.

Once you know which license you’re applying for, it’s time to get an application form.

General Requirements for Licensure

The licensing process varies depending on if you’re applying for a construction contractor’s license or an independent contractor’s license. Here’s what you need to know.

Construction contractor’s licenses

  • First, register for and get a business license with the Montana Secretary of State. It’s easy to do this on the state’s secure website .

  • You’ll also need to get a Montana Tax Identification Number with the Montana Department of Revenue .

  • Next, get a high-quality workers’ compensation plan if you have employees. You’ll need to show the state proof of insurance.

  • Finally, fill out and send in an application form. You’ll need to print it and mail it to:

    Department of Labor and Industry Registration Section PO Box 8011 Helena, MT 59604-8011

  • Don’t forget to pay your application fee! You can either mail it in with your application or pay online.

Independent contractor’s licenses First, prove you independently own a business. Get a Montana Tax Identification Number with the Montana Department of Revenue. Then fill out an independent contractor exemption certification. You can also choose to purchase a self-elected workers’ compensation insurance plan. Fill out and mail in the application form.

Mail it to:

Department of Labor and Industry
Registration Section
PO Box 8011
Helena, MT 59604-8011

The fee for construction contractors is $70 and the fee for independent contractors is $125. It’s as easy as that.

Apply to Take the License Exam

If you’re a general contractor, you don’t need to take an exam. Whew. But if you’re an electrician or plumber, you better start studying. You’ll need to pass your own trade-specific exams through the Montana State Electrical Board or the Montana Board of Plumbers .

Do You Need Additional Contractor’s Licenses?

It depends—if you’re a specialized contractor, like an electrician or contractor, then yes. Here are the resources you need.

Electricians

Apply for your license online using the Montana State Electrical Board’s website. You can also learn about the state’s electrical exam here. If you have questions, contact:

Montana State Electrical Board
301 South Park Avenue
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513

Plumbers

Just like electricians, plumbers can apply to get a license online. The state offers plumbing exams through Gainesville Independent Testing Services. If you have more questions, contact:

Montana Board of Plumbers
301 South Park Avenue
P.O. Box 200513
Helena, MT 59620-0513

Get Business Insurance

Even if you’re not ready to apply for a license today, you should start researching business insurance, including general liability insurance and workers’ compensation plans.

The truth is, in this industry, you never know what can happen. As rewarding as construction work is, accidents, injuries, and losses happen. And you want to be prepared if they do—so you can get back to doing what you do best.

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.

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