How to Become a Contractor in Michigan – Get your Michigan Contractors License

As a beautiful state bordering four Great Lakes, Michigan has a lot to offer in the way of living and working. If you’re already in the construction business or planning to become a part of it, becoming a contractor will give you the freedom to bid and oversee large projects in MI. 

To become a contractor in Michigan, you can pursue your Residential Builders License or Maintenance and Alteration Contractor License. MI also offers contractor licenses for mechanical, electrical, and elevator work. 

In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about how to apply, get licensed, and work as a contractor in the Great Lake State.

Do You Need a Contractor License in Michigan?

Individuals engaged in contractor work in Michigan are required to be licensed. All contractor licenses in Michigan are managed by the Michigan Licensing Division.

If you’re completing construction work that involves altering a residential or residential-commercial structure, you’ll need a Residential Builders and/or Maintenance and Alteration Contractor License.

Those overseeing the maintenance, alteration, installation, or repairing of electrical, plumbing, or elevator installations will also need the respective contractor license.

MI Residential Builders License

Residential builders are defined as any person who erects, constructs, replaces, repairs, alters, adds to, subtracts from, improves, wrecks, or demolishes a residential structure for payment.

MI Maintenance and Alteration Contractor License

Maintenance and Alteration Contractors are defined as any person that repairs, alters, adds to, subtracts from, improves, wrecks, or demolishes a residential structure. These contractors cannot build completely new structures as residential builders can.

Maintenance and alteration contractors must choose the trade they’re specialized in. The trades are:

  • Carpentry
  • Concrete
  • Excavation
  • Roofing
  • Masonry
  • Basement waterproofing
  • Insulation work
  • House wrecking
  • Screens and storm sash
  • Gutters
  • Tile and marble
  • Swimming pools
  • Siding 

How to Get Your Michigan Contractor License

Both residential builders and maintenance and alteration contractors follow the same application procedure. 

To receive your license in either category, you’ll need to:

  1. Complete prelicensure education requirements
  2. Apply for your license by examination
  3. Take and pass a PSI Exam

Do note that the application process differs for mobilized military personnel and Armed Forces applicants, which are discussed further below.

  1. Complete Prelicensure Education

Michigan requires all residential builders and maintenance and alternation contractor applicants to complete 60 hours of prelicensure education before applying for a license. 

Applicants must take classes from an Approved Education Course List. Courses not listed here are not approved by the Department and will not count towards the requirement.

At least 6 hours must be completed on each of the following topics:

  • Contracts, Liability, and Risk Management
  • Design and Building Science
  • Business Management, Estimating, and Job Costing
  • Marketing and Sales
  • Project Management and Scheduling
  • The Michigan Residential Code
  • MIOSHA Construction Safety Standards

The leftover 18 hours can be taken through any other approved courses. 

  1. Apply for the Contractor Examination

After completing your 60 hours of coursework, you’ll apply for your license via examination. Applications can be printed and mailed to: 

Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs

Bureau of Construction Codes/Residential Builder Section

P.O. Box 30255, Lansing, MI 48909

On your application, you’ll need to include:

  • Your prelicensure certificate
  • The license fee
    • Residential builder: $195
    • Maintenance and alteration: $195
    • Renewal for either: $185

Any additional questions about the application requirements can be directed to the Bureau’s Licensing Division at 517-241-9309.

  1. Take the Exam

If your application is approved, you’ll receive instructions on how to schedule your Residential Builder or Maintenance & Alteration Contractor exam. Tests are given through PSI Exams and there are 5 testing centers in Michigan you can choose from. 

Once you pass your exam, you’ll receive your license. 

Exceptions for Military Applicants

There are various exceptions during the application process for U.S. military members. 

All honorably-discharged applicants will have the initial license or registration fee waived. Certain veterans are also exempt from the prelicensure education requirement. 

If you are currently mobilized for military duty in the U.S., you are temporarily exempt from the continuing education, renewal fees, and other related requirements for these licenses. You will need to show proof of your mobilization status and the exemptions will only last so long as you are mobilized. 

Temporary licenses are also available for the spouses of active-duty military personnel who are coming into Michigan with a license from another state. 

Other Michigan Contractor Licenses

Michigan also offers Electrician, Plumbing, and Elevator Contractor Licenses. 

MI Electrician Contractor License

Electrical contractors in Michigan are responsible for installing, fixing, changing, maintaining, or servicing electrical wiring. They are either master electricians or employ a master electrician full-time.

To become a master electrician, you’ll need to e 22+ and have at least 12,000+ hours of electrical experience over 6+ years. After passing the PSI Master Electrician exam, you’ll be a licensed master electrician. 

Once you – or your employee – have a Master Electrician License, you can apply to take the Electrical Contractor exam.

MI Plumbing Contractor License

MI plumbing contractors are licensed master plumbers or employ a licensed master plumber full-time. The master plumbers supervise the installation of plumbing.

Master plumbers are over 18 years old and have 4,000+ hours of experience over 2+ years. They have also applied for, taken, and passed the PSI Master Plumber exam.

Once you or your employee hold a Master Plumber License, you can apply for your Plumbing Contractor License. Requirements are as follows:

  • Be a sole proprietor, partner, an officer of a corporation, or member of an LLC
  • Provide a 5-year list of previous plumbing work and list your residence(s) during that time
    • Include your employers’ names and information
  • Pay an examination and license fee

MI Elevator Contractor License

Elevator contractors in Michigan construct, install, fix, maintain, or alter the wiring, apparatus, and fixtures connected to the operation of an elevator. 

To apply to be an elevator contractor, you need:

  • 5+ years’ experience as an elevator constructor, journeyman, or the equivalent
  • To take and pass the Elevator Contractor Exam
  • To outline your work experience on the application
  • To provide an affidavit

Contractor Salaries in Michigan

General contractor salaries in Michigan average $84,600 per year, plus overtime. Those in larger cities can enjoy higher average salaries, such as:

  • Detroit, MI: $96,200
  • Grand Rapids, MI: $103,000
  • Ann Arbor, MI: $113,780

The more experience you have, the more room you have to grow your salary. 

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