There are over 11.7 million people living in Ohio, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Resourceful tradespeople could find themselves in high demand. Buckeye State residents may be looking for skilled contractors to help them repair, maintain, or transform their living spaces.
An Ohio contractor license is likely necessary to make your small business dreams a reality. Tradespeople may need both state and local licenses to operate legally in Ohio’s many cities and towns. Let’s break down how to get a contractor license in Ohio, from eligibility to insuring your business.
Do you need a contractor license in Ohio?
A general contractor license is not required in Ohio if you perform minor repair work or on home improvement projects under $1,000. However, you may need a license from the state if you plan to work on larger projects.
State-level Ohio contractor licenses are issued by the Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board (OCILB). A statewide license is required for electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors, and hydronics and refrigeration contractors.
General contractor licenses are issued at the local level for trades not covered by the state license. This type of license is necessary to run a residential or home improvement contractor company. Conditions for getting a local contractor license vary by city, but you may need this type of license to satisfy:
- Ohio carpenter license requirements
- Ohio handyman license requirements
- Ohio painter license requirements
Who can apply for an Ohio contractor license?
To apply for an Ohio contractor license at the state level, you must:
- Be 18 years or older
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal alien
- Have at least five years of experience in your trade, have three years of experience as a registered engineer in your trade, or have an equivalent experience that the OCILB finds acceptable
- Not have been convicted of a crime or other disqualifying offence
Cities and other jurisdictions may have qualifications you must meet in addition to those set by the state. It’s often tricky for contractors in Ohio to determine which licenses they need and the qualifications they must meet because there are multiple licensing levels. Checking the state government website, as well as local government sites, could help you understand your licensing options and responsibilities.
How to Get a Contractor License in Ohio
To get an Ohio contractor license from the state, you need to:
- Submit your application and pay the processing fee
- Complete a background check – This must be completed before sitting the exam.
- Pass your trade exam
- Show proof of insurance – Tradespeople need at least $500,000 in general liability insurance coverage.
The process for getting a local license differs from city to city. You will typically need to meet the eligibility standards for the state, plus extra ones for the local area. Here are the basic requirements in three Ohio cities to give you an idea of what you might expect in your area.
1. Columbus Contractor License
To get a Columbus license, you must:
- Pass an exam
- Have a minimum of $300,000 in general liability coverage
- Buy a $25,000 surety bond
2. Cincinnati Contractor License
To get a Cincinnati license, you must:
- Have at least $100,000 in general liability coverage
- Have Ohio workers’ compensation coverage
- Provide a list of registered subcontractors you work with
- Provide business entity forms, or your Social Security or Tax Identification number
3. Cleveland Contractor License
To get a Cleveland license, you must:
- Have at least $200,000 in general liability coverage
- Buy a $25,000 surety bond and attach a power-of-attorney form
- Include articles of incorporation, if applicable
Do Ohio contractors need business insurance?
General Liability insurance is required for Ohio contractors applying for a state license. You must show proof of at least $500,000 in cover.
Local areas may also require you to have General Liability coverage for their licenses. The amount of insurance you need varies, so it’s wise to check with your local licensing board to learn what insurance commitments you may need to meet.
Putting Ohio Contractors to Work
Figuring out how to get a contractor license in Ohio can be tricky. You may need to be licensed at the state and local levels and meet different eligibility requirements for licensing authorities in both areas. But if you can navigate this process, you might be able to build something great in the Buckeye State!