How to Become a Contractor in Ohio – Ohio Contractor License

Becoming a contractor in Ohio depends on the type of contractor licensing you need. Electrical, HVAC, and plumbing contractor licenses are issued by the Ohio Department of Commerce. Meanwhile, general contractor licenses and the like are issued at the local (city/municipality) level. 

Keep reading below to learn more about the contractor licensing processes in some of Ohio’s biggest cities.

Do You Need a Contractor License in Ohio?

Electrical, HVAC, and plumbing contractors are required to be licensed at the state level in Ohio. General contractors and specialty contractors, on the other hand, must adhere to their city’s regulations. 

Most cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, have General Contractor and Specialty Contractor Licenses you must apply for to complete contracting work.

Contractor Licenses in Columbus, OH

Columbus is Ohio’s most populated state, offering plenty of opportunities for construction work and projects. The city offers licensing and registration for general contractors, home improvement contractors, demolition contractors, sewer water contractors, and fire contractors. 

  • General contractors are allowed to build new structures or buildings, as well as alter and repair commercial, single-, or multi-family dwellings.
  • Home improvement contractors modernize, remodel, repair, convert, improve, or add to 1-, 2-, and 3-family homes.
  • Demolition contractors work with the demolition of any building.
  • Sewer water contractors work with sewer systems, water systems, or both.

Columbus, OH General Contractor Registration

General contractors must register with the city of Columbus before working. If you plan to work on any 1-, 2-, or 3- family residential units, you will need a Home Improvement Contractor License as well.

To apply for the General Contractor License, you’ll need the following:

  • The completed and signed application
    • The individual and/or company name must be listed on all documents
  • A bond for $25,000
  • A Certificate of Liability Insurance with liability limits of $300,000+ per person and $500,000 per occurrence 
  • To pay the $350 registration fee – if you hold another license from the city, you may be eligible for a $200 reduced fee instead

Columbus, OH Home Improvement Contractor License

Residential home improvement contractors in Columbus can choose between the Home Improvement General Contractor License or the following specialization-limited licenses. You need at least 1 year of experience within a specialization to apply. 

  • Roofing
  • Siding, windows, and doors
  • Fireplaces
  • Fencing
  • Sidewalks and driveways
  • Swimming pools and spas
  • Irrigation sprinklers
  • Basement waterproofing
  • Asphalt paving
  • And more

To apply for your Columbus Home Improvement Contractor License, you will need:

  • To pass the Ohio Home Improvement Contractor 767 Exam with a 70% or higher. Exams are given by ICC.
    • Study references can be found here
    • To take the test, you’ll need 3+ years of installation experience improving 1, 2, and 3-family buildings

After passing the test, you’ll complete the application for licensure. You should:

  • Have 1 year of experience in the field in your specialty (if you’ve taken the exam, you should already meet this requirement) OR 
  • Be a registered architect or engineer in Ohio OR
  • Be a graduate architect or engineer with 1 experience as a designer or installer in the area you’re applying for
  • Pay the $185 application fee
  • Include a copy of your passing test results
  • Choose your specialization

Other Contractor Licenses in Columbus, OH

Information for demolition contractors, sewer and water contractors, and fire contractors can be found on the City of Columbus website.

Contractor Licenses in Cleveland, OH

According to local law, contractors must be registered with the city to build or rehabilitate homes in Cleveland. This includes general, sewer, demo, plumbing, HVAC, and electrical contractors. 

To complete your application, you’ll need:

  • To fully complete, sign, and notarize the application – do not leave any spaces blank
  • Complete the bond form showing a bond of $25,000
  • Attach a power-of-attorney form by your insurance agent, as well as a Certificate of Insurance covering bodily injury at $50,000 and $100,000, and $50,000 for property damage
  • Corporations must attach a copy of the Articles of Incorporation with the state seal
  • To list all names of personnel authorized to secure permits under your license
  • To pay a $150 application fee

Renewals complete the same application and instead pay a $120 renewal fee.

Contractor Licenses in Cincinnati, OH

The Cincinnati metropolitan area homes more than 1,700,00 citizens. As the third-largest city in Ohio, Cincinnati offers structured contractor registration on an annual basis. Any and all contractors in Cincinnati are required to be registered to work and receive city permits. This includes home improvement contractors, building construction contractors, and licensed electrical, mechanical, plumbing, refrigeration, crane, and hydronic contractors.

Exceptions are permitted for owners of 1-, 20, and 3-family buildings who are performing work on their own homes in which they live. If the owner is incapable of working, they may be able to have family members or volunteers complete the work. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

The other exemption is for architects or professional engineers who are working under the scope for which they’re licensed or registered.

Cincinnati Contractor Registration Process

To register as a contractor in Cincinnati, you’ll need to:

  • Complete the application with all required signatures
  • If applying as a business, complete the Contractor Registration Assignment/Authorized Signer Forms
    • Your Federal Taxpayer ID number is also required
  • Include a Certificate of Liability Insurance that covers $100,000 for damages per person and $300,000 per occurrence 
    • Crane operators have different requirements listed on page 1 of the application
  • Proof of Worker’s Compensation
  • Copy of OCILB license, if applicable
  • Registered contractor sub list (sub-contractors list)
  • A $131.25 fee
    • Same-day processing is available for an extra $210
    • Renewal fees are also $131.25, plus a $78.75 late fee if renewing within the 30 days after expiration
    • Changes to an existing registration cost $78

Contractor Salaries in Ohio

With so many specializations, contractor salaries can vary tremendously in the U.S. Add in the differences in experience level and you can find salaries ranging from $42,000 to $125,000+. Below are some general contractor salaries in Ohio’s three biggest cities. 

  • General contractors in Columbus, OH: $124,100
  • General contractors in Cleveland, OH: $82,900
  • General contractor in Cincinnati, OH: $94,800

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top