Painting License

Information

What is a Painting License?

A painting license is a certificate of proof that your painting business is registered and recognized by the state you operate in. Usually applying for a painters license requires an exam, experience and in most cases monetary fees. The license isn’t like your driver's license. It's a paper certificate you can file, and a smaller cut out basically for your wallet or purse.

In this article we will cover:

 

  • Do I need a painting license?

  • How much is a painting license?

  • How to get a painting license?

  • Where to use my painting license?

  • Do my subcontractors need a painting license?

  • Each states painting license requirements.

Do I Need a Painting License?

Short Answer: Yes

Acquiring a painting license is important for your painting business and a requirement in most states. I personally believe any painting business should possess a license regardless of your state's regulations. Each state has their own laws when it comes to applying for a contractors license. Some require you to have a license if you are doing projects over a monetary threshold. Example, to obtain a painters license in  Florida, painting contractors require a general contractor license from the Construction Industry Licensing Board. Applicants must write an exam which includes questions on business and finance, contract administration and project management. But in Illinois, painter license requirements do not exist and painters don’t need to be registered as contractors. Filing for a painting license in California requires to be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). To qualify for a painting license you must have had four full years of experience in the last 10 years at a journey level, or as a supervisor, foreman or contractor in the area you’re applying for a license in. You can start a painting business without a license in some states, check at the end of this article for a list of all the states requirements.

How Much is a Painting License?

Short Answer: $0 - $300/ year

Depending on what state you plan to operate determines your painting license fee. In some states, it’s 100% free, but in others, it could be up to a few hundred dollars. Typically you will need to renew annually and pay the required fee for the next 12 months. The license fee is minimal to the amount of money your painting business will bring in so don’t let the fee deter you from doing what's right.

How to Get a Painting License?

Short Answer: State Government Website

Before obtaining your painters license you will need to have our company’s EIN (tax info), proof of insurance, and some kind of formation, whether it be an LLC or S-corp business. The best way to get started on your state's application process is to google your state government site plus the words, “home improvement contractors license”, or “contractors license”. I found in most cases it to be the Consumer Affairs, Board or Committee section of the websites. Follow the prompts on the web page to find where to apply. If there is a search bar provided on your states government website use that to search for the term. You may need to print documents, fill out details and send by physical mail with your fee.

Where to Use my Painting License?

Short Answer: Every and Anywhere

This also depends on your state's regulations but just add your painting license number to everything you can. It looks professional and it’s required on almost everything anyway so you can’t go wrong. The most important place to display your license number is on vehicles and contracts but here is a list of examples:

 

  • Applications

  • Offers

  • Proposals

  • Contracts

  • Advertisements

  • Commercial Vehicles

  • Signs

  • Business Apparel

  • Other documents

Do my Subcontractors or Employees Need a Painting License?

Short Answer: Yes

If your subcontractors are a professional painting company which they should be, then they will already have their own painting contractors license. If you have w-2 employees they will be covered under your painting business license as long as you take the state taxes and other fees from their paychecks.

 

Each State Painting License Requirements

All the proceeding information is sourced from Next Insurance, our all-time favorite insurance company for contractors. 

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Alabama
To receive the Alabama Painting and Wall Covering Contractor license, required for any work over $50,000, applicants need to be approved by the state to sit the examination, must also have passed the Alabama Business and Law exam, and must have completed at least three projects and have at least three years of experience. To apply, applicants must call 1-334-272-5030.

Alaska
The State of Alaska has three levels of painting contractor license – specialty contractor who can work on commercial and residential structures with limits, general contractor excluding residential who can work on commercial buildings and limited residential, and general contractor with a residential endorsement who can work on unlimited commercial and residential buildings. Only the residential endorsement license has pre-requisite requirements for the license. You must hold insurance.

Arizona
Arizona requires separate painting business licenses for residential and commercial contractors. Residential painters require one year of experience as a painter under a state recognized contractor, and will then need to write an exam including a business management test. Commercial painters require two years of experience as a painter under a state recognized contractor, and will then need to write an exam including questions specific to commercial projects.

Arkansas
Arkansas requires licensing for commercial and residential contractors working on any projects that cost $2,000 or more. All contractors will be required to write and pass the Business and Law exam, and acquire insurance.

California
Any contractor, including a painting and decorating contractor, who works on a project that costs $500 or more must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). To qualify for a painting license you must have had four full years of experience in the last 10 years at a journey level, or as a supervisor, foreman or contractor in the area you’re applying for a license in.

Colorado
There is no painting license requirement for painters in the state of Colorado, but licenses may be required locally. Proof of business liability insurance is needed.

Connecticut
Contractors must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection to work on a residential property in the area of home improvement in Connecticut. You will need to show proof of insurance, and provide reference of your knowledge and skills.

Delaware
Contractors, including painters, must be licensed in Delaware; however it is for the purposes of revenue only. The license is awarded by the Division of Revenue. To contact them, you can call 1-302-577-8205. An exam must be written to obtain your state painting license.

Florida
Painter license requirements in Florida require a general contractor license from the Construction Industry Licensing Board. Applicants must write an exam which includes questions on business and finance, contract administration and project management.

Georgia
The Georgia Residential Basic Contractor License is required for any project over $2,500. Applicants must be approved by the state to sit the exam and must have 2 years of working experience. Applicants must show an insurance certificate and must pass the Georgia Business and Law exam.

Hawaii
Painters in Hawaii require Professional and Vocational Licensing from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Applicants will require proof of worker’s compensation insurance and liability insurance, and must pass an exam on business, law and trade.

Idaho
Idaho does not license general contractors, including painters, at the state level. Any licensing happens at the local level only. The Licensing Freedom Act, signed in May 2017, may change this, but the report will only be submitted to the governor in July 2018.

Illinois
Painter license requirements do not exist and painters don’t need to be registered as contractors in the state of Illinois.

Indiana
While some contractors are required to be licensed at a local level in Indiana, only plumbers require licensing at the state level. There is no painter license requirement in Indiana.

Iowa
All constructions contractors who do more than $2,000 of business per year must be registered and renew their registration annually with the Iowa Division of Labor. There is no painting license or exam that is required at the state level; however, painters do require a license at the local level.

Kansas
Painters that deal with lead paint require a license from the Kansas Department of Health & Environment. They can be contacted at 1-785-296-5606. While some contractors are licensed at the state level in Kansas, painting contractors are licensed at the local level only.

Kentucky
Painters do not require a license at the state level in Kentucky.

Louisiana
Painting contractors in the state of Louisiana require a license. The State Licensing Board for Contractors issues four different types of licenses – commercial, residential, home improvement and mold remediation. Painting licenses fall under the building construction classification. Applicants will be required to submit information about work experience and a financial statement before sitting an exam. For a Louisiana Painting and Coating License, only a Business Law exam is required, but not a trade exam.

Maine
General contractors, including painters, do not require a state license in Maine. General licenses, in order to be able to operate a business in Maine, are dealt with at a town or city level.

Maryland
All contractors who perform home improvement, including painters, in the state of Maryland, require a license. All applicants must show two years of experience in home improvement, construction or related education. Applicants must meet the financial solvency guidelines of the Home Improvement Commission. Applicants must submit a certificate of trade name registration and must show proof of liability insurance. Applicants must pass a licensing exam, with licenses issued for a period of two years.

Massachusetts
Anyone who supervises construction work in Massachusetts needs to have a license. This includes at least three full years of work experience, and passing an exam. In addition, you need to register as a home improvement contractor to perform residential contracting on an existing one-to-four unit primary residence occupied by the owner. However, residential contracting excludes interior painting.

Michigan
All residential and commercial painting contractors in Michigan require a license. Those applying for a Residential Builders License, which includes painting, will be required to write two sets of exams – the business and law exam and the trade exam. The Maintenance and Alterations Contractors License also requires an exam, but you must write the exam that is specific to your trade, in this case, painting and decorating. The license is awarded by the Builder’s Unit of the Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs.

Minnesota
Any person who contracts directly with a homeowner, offering building construction services in more than one skill area, requires a building contractor or remodeler license. Interior painting, exterior finishing painting and drywall painting all fall under different skill areas so that a painter than contracts directly with a homeowner and offers services in more than one of these areas, requires a license. Commercial painting contractors do not require a license, but must be registered. Applicants must pass an exam and must hold a current liability insurance certificate.

Mississippi
The state of Mississippi requires Painting and Wall Covering Contractors to be licensed by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. Pre-approval must be given by the state to allow you to sit the exam. Applicants must pass the trade exam, as well as the business and law management exam. Applicants must submit a financial statement and proof of workers compensation and liability insurance. The industrial painting specialty does not require an exam.

Missouri
Painting contractors do not require a state license in Missouri; however they may require a license at the local level. Typically, a license is required in towns where the population exceeds 15,000.

Montana
The state of Montana requires all construction contractors and subcontractors who have employees to register with the Department of Labor and Industry. Those without employees may still opt to be registered, but do not need to be.

Nebraska
Nebraska requires all contractors who do business in counties that have populations of 100,000 or more to have a license. Contractors must register with the Nebraska Department of Labor.

Nevada
Painters in Nevada must be licensed and hold a Nevada Painting and Decorating Painting License. Applicants must be pre-approved to write the exam and will need to pass a trade exam and a business and law exam. To qualify for a license, applicants must show 4 years of experience from the last 10 years, and must submit financial statements and proof of insurance. The state of Nevada has a reciprocity agreement with California, Arizona and Utah.

New Hampshire
General construction contractors, including painting contractors, do not need to be licensed in the state of New Hampshire.

New Jersey
Painters in New Jersey fall under the umbrella of home improvement contractors. Painter license requirements include registering with the Division of Consumer Affairs, with the registration renewed annually. All registered painters must have a registration badge and must prominently display their registration number in their place of business, on all business documents and on all advertisements.

New Mexico
Construction contractors need to be licensed in New Mexico, with specific licenses awarded for specific types of work. Painter license requirements include two years of work experience. You must pass a business and law exam, as well as a trade exam. All licenses are awarded by the Construction Industries Division of the State of New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department.

New York
New York State does not require painters licenses; however there are requirements at the local government level. Painters in New York City, for example, require a Home Improvement Contractor License which is awarded by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. You will need to write an exam and show proof of insurance in order to obtain a license. The license lasts for two years and must then be renewed.

North Carolina
General contractors, including painters, in North Carolina are required to hold a license in order to bid on and work on paint jobs costing $30,000 or more. You must hold a license to hire employees. You are required to take an exam, and the license is awarded by the North Carolina Licensing Board. In addition, any person who deals with lead-based paint must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency and must take a series of classes to receive the certification.

North Dakota
North Dakota requires all contractors who do work that costs more than $4,000 to be licensed in the state. To apply to be a licensed contractor, you must be registered as a business with the Secretary of State and have proof of insurance. There are four classes of contractor licenses, depending on the size of the jobs you want to be licensed for. There is no exam requirement.

Ohio
The Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board only requires specific trades to obtain contractor licenses, and painters are not included in the requirement. However, home improvement and general contractors in Ohio must be licensed or registered at the local level, with specific requirements depending on the city.

Oklahoma
In Oklahoma, general contractors and subcontractors who provide general construction services, including painters, are not required to hold a state license.

Oregon
In Oregon, all contractors who do any form of construction work to improve a property, including painters, require a state license. To obtain a license, you must complete training and take an exam. You must provide proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance when you apply. The license will be valid for two years.

Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not require most construction contractors to hold a license; however, under the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, most contractors are required to be registered and to hold current insurance. Registered contractors must display their registration number on all contracts advertisements and other business documents. Any contractors, including painters, who work with lead removal must be licensed by the state from the PA Department of Labor and Industry.

Rhode Island
Contractors who repair, build or remodel one to four-family residential buildings in Rhode Island must register with the Contractor’s Registration and Licensing Board. Only utility traders require a license at the state level. Any painter who works on a pre-1978 home must work for a licensed Lead Hazard Control Firm. An eight-hour training course must be completed before a Lead-Safe Remodeler/Renovator license can be applied for.

South Carolina
General contractors in South Carolina only require a license when performing commercial construction work costing more than $5,000. For this license, applicants must have at least two years of work experience within the last five years and must pass a technical and a business and law exam. Painters of residential properties must be registered, but are not required to take an exam.

South Dakota
There are no painter license requirements in South Dakota as there is no painter license. General construction contractors in the state are licensed at the local government level.

Tennessee
Painters in Tennessee require a state Home Improvement license for any remodeling on existing residential homes, for jobs costing between $3,000 and $25,000. Any jobs of $25,000 or more require a contractor’s license. Applicants must show proof of worker’s compensation and general liability insurance, and show financial responsibility. For a contractor’s license, applicants must write a trade exam.

Texas
Texas has no painter license requirement on a state level; however, you may require a local license to operate your painting business in a specific city.

Utah
A Construction Contractor license is required for general painting in the state of Utah. The license is awarded by the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. Applicants must provide proof of worker’s compensation and liability insurance, must show at least 2 full years of work experience and must pass a trade exam and a business and law exam.

Vermont
General contractors and home improvement contractors in Vermont are not licensed at the state level, but may need to be licensed at the local level. There are state licenses for lead abatement so painters who work with lead paint will require this license.

Virginia
Painting and wall covering contractors in Virginia require a state license from the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. There are Class A and Class B contractors depending on years of experience and worth. Since March 2016, all applicants require pre-approval from the department before sitting for their trade exam.

Washington
General and specialty contractors are required to be licensed in Washington State. This includes contractors in the specialty of painting and wall covering. To register as a contractor you will need to register with the WA Secretary of State and show proof of general liability insurance. There is no coursework or test that is required.

West Virginia
A contractor license is required in West Virginia for almost all work on projects costing more than $1,000; however, painting is considered an untested specialty in West Virginia. Contractor licenses are awarded by the West Virginia Division of Labor.

Wisconsin
Wisconsin does not require a license for painters. The only contractors that require licenses are dwelling contractors, electricians, plumbers and HVAC technicians. Building contractors require registration only.

Wyoming
Painters are not required to be licensed at the state level in Wyoming. All contractors, other than electrical, are licensed at the local level.

We’re providing all of this information as a service. It is correct and up to-date to the best of our knowledge, but it is not meant to be taken as legal advice and you should always consult with local authorities before making any business decisions. Regulations are subject to change at any time.

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