New Jersey offers some of the highest-paying construction jobs in the country. General contractors can make over six figures in certain NJ cities, attracting many to the construction business.
If you’re wondering how to become a contractor in New Jersey, you’re in the right place. To work as a residential contractor, you’re going to need a state registration number. General contractors, on the other hand, will need to follow their city’s licensing guidelines.
Keep reading below to learn about the contractor registration process in New Jersey. Plus, check out the bonus sections for Electrical Contractor Licenses and Home Repair Salesperson Licenses in NJ.
Do You Need a Contractor License in New Jersey?
The Contractors Registration Act of New Jersey requires any contractor engaging in the business of making or selling residential home improvements to be registered with the state. This is for both part-time and full-time work, contractors and subcontractors. Without registration, you will not be able to receive any permits in NJ.
Home improvement includes fixing, changing, or installing driveways, sidewalks, pools, patios, landscaping (if you plant anything or lay sod), parts of the home, heaters, water systems, and more.
In addition to state registration, there are general contractor requirements for each city. Always check with your local licensing board for the latest contractor guidelines.
Registration requirements do not apply if you’re improving your home, that of a family member, or that of a charity/non-profit.
You are also exempt from this requirement if you work for a home improvement retailer with a net worth of at least $50,000,000.
A final exemption is that you don’t need to register if you deal strictly in cash payments over 90 days or less.
Penalties for Non-Registration
If you refuse to register as a contractor and continue to work, you are subject to a $10,000 penalty for your first violation and up to $20,000 for each additional violation. You will also face possible jail time.
NJ Contractor Registration Requirements
To become a registered contractor, you must complete your application and submit it to the Division of Consumer Affairs.
When applying, you’ll need to hold general liability insurance for $500,000 per occurrence.
The application will also ask you about any past criminal convictions. Individuals will not be disqualified based on a past conviction if they can demonstrate rehabilitation.
Once you have your Contractor Registration Number, you’re legally obligated to display it within your place of business, in advertisements, on business documents, and all commercial vehicles. As a registered contractor, you’re also required by law to have a written contract for any work valued over $500.
Completing the Registration Application
Complete the application in ink and answer all questions. If the question does not apply to you, write “N/A.”
With the application, be sure to include:
- A copy of your ID
- The Disclosure Statement Page
- Proof of general liability insurance
- The $110 application fee
- A copy of your business’ Trade Name Certificate, Certificate of Incorporation, or Certificate of Formation
- If you are applying as an out-of-state corporation, you’ll also need a New Jersey Certificate of Authority
- Some businesses will require a Federal Employer Identification Number
When you’ve completed your application, send it with all supporting documentation to:
State of New Jersey
Division of Consumer Affairs
Regulated Business Section
Home Improvement Unit
124 Halsey Street, 7th Floor
P.O. Box 46016
Newark, NJ 07101
Duplicate or replacement registrations can also be applied for with a $20 fee.
Renewing Your NJ Contractor Registration
All registrations must be renewed annually before March 31st. You will receive a reminder letter in January with renewal instructions.
General Contractor Licenses by City
General contractors are licensed at the city or municipality level, so you’ll need to check with the licensing board or contractors board in your area of work. Many cities require licensure, registration, or business registration to complete contracting work.
Below are links to the general contractor pages of the three most populated cities in New Jersey.
Electrical Contractor Licenses in NJ
New Jersey also issues independent Electrical Contractor Licenses. This license is for electricians who contract electrical work, including the installation, repairing, or altering of equipment for the transmission, utilization, or generation of electrical energy.
Electrical contractors can hire and oversee journeyman electricians and apprentices. To become a licensed electrical contractor, you need to:
- Be 21+
- Have a high school diploma or its equivalent
- Have 5 years of electrical experience working with the National Electrical Code (NEC)
- 4-year apprenticeship and 1 year of experience OR
- Have been a licensed journeyman for 1 year OR
- Have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and 2 years’ experience
If you meet the requirements, you can apply for the examination through the state. Once approved, you’ll receive instructions on how to take the contractor exam. After passing the exam, you can receive your Electrical Contractor License.
Home Repair Salesperson License
New Jersey also offers Home Repair Salesperson Licenses for those who secure home repair contracts with a homeowner on behalf of a licensed home repair contractor. This salesperson should be affiliated with only one licensed home repair contractor at a time.
The salesperson may provide the materials or preconstructed structures, but only the home repair contractor will install them.
To apply for a Home Repair Salesperson License, you’ll need to complete the application and submit it to the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance, Licensing Services Bureau.
On the application, you’ll need to include:
- The name and reference number of the home repair contractor you are affiliated with
- The location where you are employed
- The Employer Certification portion filled in by your employer
- A $60 application fee
Contractor Salaries in New Jersey
New Jersey sports high salaries to match a higher cost of living. Salaries depend on your experience, what part of New Jersey you’re working in, and what types of buildings you are working on.
Residential contractor salaries are slightly lower, depending heavily on the type of work being done.
General contractors, on the other hand, can enjoy a comfortable average salary of $144,900 per year in the Garden State, which is 18% higher than the national average for contractors. This salary breaks down to roughly $69 per hour, plus an average annual bonus of $9,200.