How to get an Oregon Contractor License

Who needs an Oregon Contractor License?

Generally, anyone who is paid for construction activities leading to the improvement of real property is required to obtain and Oregon contractor license.  There are some exceptions which are generally limited to handymen performing projects with a contract value of $1,000 or less, gutter cleaning, and pressure washing.

Do I need an Oregon Contractor License Surety Bond to get my license?

Yes, you will need a surety bond in order to obtain your construction license.  The bond is specific to the state of Oregon and the amount required varies depending on your construction license type.  You can learn more about the surety bond requirement by clicking here or continuing to read the licensing guide below.

What Oregon Contractor License type do I need?

There are many Oregon contractor license types available and it’s important that you apply for the the correct license type.  A brief description of each contractor license type and the contractor license bond amounts needed are listed below:

Residential Contractor License Bonds
  • Residential specialty contractor: $15,000 surety bond and $300,000 general liability insurance
    • These contractors can only perform up to two unrelated trades per residential project with a contract value exceeding $2,500.   For example: The residential specialty contractor can perform masonry and HVAC but not electric on any one project.  Conversely, the contractor could perform HVAC and electric but not masonry on any one project.  However, the licensed contractor can perform three or more trades at a single residential project if the total contract for labor and materials does not exceed $2,500.  These trades can also vary from project to project.  Additionally, the Oregon residential specialty contractor can also perform up to two unrelated construction activities on a small commercial structure.
  • Residential general contractor: $20,000 surety bond and $500,000 general liability insurance
    • Oregon Residential GC’s may supervise, arrange, and perform work on residential structures.  They can perform work on an unlimited number of residential structures and can perform an unlimited number of unrelated building trades (electric, masonry, etc.).  They may also perform the same type of work as a residential specialty contractor.  Additionally, Oregon residential general contractors may perform work on small commercial structures but not large commercial structures.
  • Residential locksmith services contractor: $10,000 surety bond and $100,000 general liability insurance
    • The RLSC designation will allow the contractor to operate a locksmith service but does not allow for any other construction activity to be performed.
  • Residential limited contractor:  $10,000 surety bond and $100,000 general liability insurance
    • Oregon Residential Limited Contractors can perform the same construction activities listed above for the residential general contractor with a few exceptions.  This type of contractor may not enter into a construction contract exceeding $5,000.  Additionally, the company must certify that their expected annual construction revenue will not exceed $40,000.  They must immediately notify the Construction Contractors Board and upgrade the license type to a Residenital General Contractor if their revenue exceeds $40,000.
  • Residential developer:  $20,000 surety bond and $500,000 general liability insurance
    • A residential developer cannot perform construction trades but can arrange for the construction and development of properties it owns or in which it has an interest.  The developer can act in association with a licensed contractor but the contractor must have sole responsibility for overseeing the construction work.
  • Home services contractor: $10,000 surety bond and $100,000 general liability insurance
    • A home services contractor may only perform services relating to the repair and or replacement of items under a home services agreement or warranty.
  • Home energy performance score contractor: $10,000 surety bond and $100,000 general liability insurance
    • These contractors may operate a business which issues home energy performance scores but may not perform any other construction activity
  • Home inspector services contractor: $10,000 surety bond and $100,000 general liability insurance
    • This license allows a company to perform home inspection services but no other construction activity.
Commercial Contractor License Bonds
  • Commercial General Contractor Level 1: $75,000 surety bond and $2 million aggregate general liability insurance
    • An Oregon Commercial GC can arrange and perform an unlimited number of construction trades on a commercial project including those trades performed by specialty contractors.  Level I commercial general contractors must have eight years of construction experience.
  • Commercial General Contractor Level 2: $25,000 surety bond and $1 million aggregate general liability insurance
    • A Level II Oregon commercial general contractor can perform the same activities of a Level I Oregon commercial general contractor.  The only difference between the two license types is the amount of construction experience as the Level II license applies to contractors with only four years of construction experience.
  • Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 1: $50,000 surety bond and $1 million aggregate general liability insurance
    • This license type allows a contractor to perform up to two unrelated building trades on a commercial project.  A contractor must have eight years of construction experience to obtain this license.
  • Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 2: $20,000 surety bond and $500,000 aggregate general liability insurance
    • Similar to the Oregon Level I commercial specialty contractor, the Level II commercial specialty contractor can perform up to two unrelated building trades on a large or small construction project.  However, this license type is only for contractors with four years of experience.
  • Commercial Developer: $20,000 surety bond and $500,000 aggregate general liability insurance
    • The commercial developer contractor license type allows the developer to work with a licensed general contractor to develop and sell commercial properties it owns or in which it has an interest.  This license does not allow the developer to perform the actual construction trades which must be done by a licensed commercial contractor.

How do I get my Oregon Contractor License?

Step 1:  Determine the type of structure you intend to build or modify as a licensed contractor.  The three classifications of structures are listed below along with a brief description:

  • Residential Structures – These structures are site-built homes, individual condominiums, manufactures homes, and other structures containing one or more units which are four stories or less.  Examples of residential structures include but are not limited to single family homes, apartment complexes, or individual residences located in a multi-story building.
  • Small Commercial Structures – These structures must be non-residential in nature, no more than 20 feet tall, less than 10,000 square feet, and most other commercial structures meeting the previously mentioned requirements with a total contract value less than $250,000.  Examples of small commercial structures include but are not limited to convenience stores, gas stations, and fast food restaurants.
  • Large Commercial Structures – These structures are any other structures which are not defined as residential or small commercial.  However, small commercial structures with a total contract price which exceeds $250,000 are also considered large commercial structures.  Examples of large residential structures include but are not limited to hospitals, parking garages, and apartment complexes exceeding four stories in height.

Step 2:  Designate a responsible managing individual (RMI) for you company.  The RMI should be an owner or employee of the company in which you intend to license.

Step 3:  Have your RMI complete the necessary 16 hours of pre-licensing training.  You can find a listing of approved pre-licensing trainers by clicking here.  The training should include business law and best practices.  Additionally, you will want to ensure the cost of your pre-licensing training includes the Oregon Contractor Reference Manual as it will be needed for your Oregon Contractor License Exam.

Step 4:  Schedule and pass the Oregon Contractor License Exam.  The exam must be scheduled with PSI Services, you must complete the pre-license training prior to scheduling it, and the cost of the exam is $60.  The exam consists of 80 multiple choice questions and is an open book test.  You must answer 56 of the 80 multiple choice questions correctly to receive the passing grade of at least 70%.  The maximum allowable time to complete the exam is 3 hours.  Again, the exam is open book and you will want to bring your Oregon Contractor Reference Manual for reference.

Step 5:  Complete the state contractor license application.  A copy of the application can be found here.

Step 6:  Apply for and purchase your Oregon Contractor License Surety Bond.  You can apply for the bond online by using our easy-to-complete Oregon Contractor License Bond application.  It takes minutes to apply and quotes are returned in minutes.  You can learn more about the surety bond requirement by visiting our Oregon Construction License Bond page.

Step 7:  Purchase the required amount of general liability coverage for your license type.

Step 8:  Get your Oregon contractor license!  You’ll need to supply a copy of your Oregon Contractor License Exam score, completed contractor license application, application fee, certificate of liability insurance, original surety bond to the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.  The board will then issue your construction license.

How much will it cost to get my Oregon Contractor License?

The cost of obtaining your Oregon contractor license will vary depending on your license type.  Your surety bond cost will typically be about 1% of the bond amount needed (i.e. $10,000 bond = $100 cost).  The cost of your general liability insurance will vary depending on the type of construction being performed and the amount of coverage needed.  However, here are your fixed costs for obtaining your license:

  • Pre-license Training – $125-150 (includes manual)
  • State Construction License Exam – $60
  • State Construction License Application Fee – $325 (2 year term)

Other construction license types have lower application fees than the traditional construction licenses.  Those fees are listed below by license type:

  • Home Energy Assessor Application Fee – $100
  • Home Inspector Application Fee – $150
  • Lead-Based Paint Inspector Application Fee – $50
  • Locksmith Application Fee – $60

How long will it take to get my Oregon Contractor license?

The licensing process can be completed at your pace but you must obtain your Oregon Contractor License within 24 months after completing your pre-license training.  However, you can expect to obtain the license roughly one week after completing your pre-license training if you make it a priority.