How to Become a Contractor in Tennessee

Tennessee has seen a booming construction and realty market over the last few years. With ample opportunity for both residential and commercial work, many are asking how to become a contractor in Tennessee. 

Tennessee requires general contractor (GC) licenses for projects valued at $25,000+ or Home Improvement Licenses for projects valued at $3,000-$24,999. Both license types will require insurance, a bond, a completed application, and a fee. GC licenses will also require you to pass a state exam.

Let’s check out the details for both types of Tennessee contractor licenses.

General Contractor Licenses in TN

GCs and subcontractors in Tennessee can complete their applications online. First, you’ll create your online account and choose the “Initial Contractors” option. You can call the Board if you prefer to be mailed a paper application.

Work Experience

Your work experience will be used to determine the scope of your work and the budget limits for projects you can undertake. You’ll need to fill in your work experience in detail on your application online or attach a list of resumes and experience. 

Letters of reference will also be required from your previous employers or coworkers.


Before applying for a license, contractors will need to take and pass the Business and Law exam for licensure. Qualifying agents will also need to pass a test in their trade.

For those contractors with out-of-state licenses, you can verify your information on page 7 of the application to see if your exam requirement will be waived. 

For more exam information see page 14 here.

Qualifying Agents

Next, you’ll outline your business structure, including the details of your owners, officers, etc. You’ll also need to answer questions about you and your qualifying party’s criminal records.

The owner of the business/applicant will then designate their qualifying agent through a Power of Attorney form. 

The qualifying agent is a full-time employee of the contracting business that will be supervising the actual projects and contracts. If completing specialty work, such as electrical, plumbing, etc., the qualifying agent may need a separate license to be considered.

Completing the Application

In continuing your application, you will need the following:

  • Worker’s Comp information and/or a certificate of insurance
  • Attestation of citizenship or legal residency
  • A financial statement with current assets and liabilities
    • Reviewed by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) if less than $3 million
    • Audited by a CPA if more than $3 million
  • Certificate of general liability insurance 
  • Proof of registration for corporations, LLCs, and partnerships
  • Exam scores
    • Contractor Business and Law exam
    • Trade exam for the qualifying agent

Home Improvement Licenses in TN

Home Improvement Licenses apply to Bradly, Davidson, Haywood, Hamilton, Knox, Marion, Rutherford, and Shelby counties. With this license, you’ll still need to adhere to any additional local licensing and permit laws. 

Applicants will need to pay a $250 application fee, hold a $10,000 bond, provide liability and Worker’s Comp coverage, and complete the application in its entirety. You’ll also need to provide references and experience information as well as tax information about your registered business, if applicable.

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