Starting a construction venture in Vermont? Whether you’re a budding contractor or an established one from another state, understanding the Vermont contractor license requirements is essential.
Unlike a handful of states, Vermont doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all license for general contractors. Instead, licensing is slightly more complicated as it varies based on the type of contractor you are, the trades you engage in, and the cities you operate within.
This article will guide you through the nuances of getting licensed as a contractor in Vermont, helping you navigate the complexities of state and local requirements and focus on operating your business smoothly and legally in the Green Mountain State.
Tip: If you’re planning to work as a general contractor in Vermont, we recommend forming an LLC. This is an affordable business structure that protects your personal assets against debt and/or lawsuits.
Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + state fees)
Do You Need a Contractor License
In Vermont, not all residential contractors are required to obtain a specific license. Instead, licensing requirements vary depending on your specific trade and the location you’re based in.
While general contractors such as roofers and builders don’t need a license in Vermont to operate legally, several specialist trades do. If your contracting business plans to perform any of the following work, it will need a specific statewide license:
- Boiler inspections
- Electrical installation work and code enforcement
- Elevator designing, installations, and maintenance
- Gas system certifications
- Oil burner installations
- Sprinkler system designing, installations, and maintenance
Although these licenses required by the Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety are technically categorized as trade licenses, they are still essential for your Vermont contracting business if you intend to perform work in these specialty areas.
Furthermore, Vermont contractors require a written contract prior to performing any residential construction where the estimated value is $10,000 or more, inclusive of labor and materials.
Due to the demanding combination of experience, paperwork, and examination requirements of these licenses, many contracting businesses struggle with the application process. To avoid disappointment, many contractors have started to employ the help of online study resources so that they are fully prepared for these exams.
Interested in getting started? We recommend using online study materials and prep courses to give yourself the best chance of success.
How to Get a Contractor License in Vermont
Becoming a general contractor in Vermont is relatively straightforward since the state doesn’t mandate a license. This means there are no specific age, experience, or education qualifications that you must meet at a state level to be able to offer these services.
However, if you intend to perform any work in a specialist trade (i.e., as a plumber or electrician), there are certain steps your business will need to follow in order to get licensed in Vermont. While the specifics of these steps vary between each trade, you will generally need to do the following:
Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure
Before starting the application process for a contractor license, you’ll first need to decide on the structure of your business. Since this decision will impact your liability, tax obligations, and how you run your business, it’s vital you’re informed about the details of each structure so that you can effectively determine which one is best suited to your needs.
Many contracting businesses in Vermont, particularly smaller ones, decide to structure themselves as a limited liability company (LLC) because it grants them tax flexibility, limited liability protection, and credibility in the eyes of their clients.
Recommended: More than 72% of our readers form their LLC using a professional filing service. Our recommended service provider is:
Northwest Registered Agent ($29 + state fees)
Step 2: Meet the Basic Requirements
After forming your business, you’ll need to confirm that you meet the minimum basic requirements. While the specifics of these requirements will vary depending on the license you are trying to obtain, you’ll generally need to:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be a US citizen or legally reside in the country
- Have no convictions of a disqualifying offense
- Demonstrate a certain number of hours of on-the-job training, and experience. For example, to obtain a Master Electrician License in Vermont, applicants can demonstrate their eligibility with proof of 16,000 hours of experience in a sworn statement by a previous employer. You can also apply after having a Vermont Electrical Journeyman license for two years
Note: Some licenses, like the Master Plumber License, require you to have held a more junior qualification in that industry for a certain amount of time. In this case, applicants must have held a Vermont journeyman license for at least 12 months before applying to become a master plumber.
Step 3: Submit an Application
Once you’ve confirmed that you meet the basic requirements of the license your business needs, the next step is to complete and submit the appropriate application form to the relevant regulatory body along with any associated fees.
For some of the most common specialist trades in Vermont:
- Plumbers: The Vermont Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety oversees the licenses of plumbing contractors, ranging from apprentices to master plumbers
- Electricians: Similarly, the Vermont Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety is also responsible for handling the licensing of electrical contractors in Vermont at all levels
Note: While this article touches on several common trades in Vermont, it’s crucial to note that the application process is unique to each specific trade. As such, you’ll need to research the exact licensing process for the specific license you need, as it may differ from those outlined above.
Step 4: Pass a Licensing Exam
While not a universal requirement, many contractor licenses in Vermont require applicants to pass a licensing exam in order to qualify. For example, master plumbers must take a five-hour exam administered by Prov after their application has been approved by the Division of Fire Safety.
Many candidates struggle with these exams as they will often test both their knowledge of the trade and their understanding of Vermont’s specific regulations and laws. To avoid this, many applicants take advantage of online study guides and preparatory courses in order to get ready for these exams.
Step 5: Protect Yourself With Insurance
In order to protect both your business and the client in case of accidents and damages, most contractors in Vermont are recommended to obtain insurance coverage before they get licensed.
Obtaining a surety bond is another great way to protect your business from the financial harm of its liabilities. While it’s not a requirement for contractors in Vermont, it’s a wise investment as it can enable you to work as a contractor in states where this requirement is present, such as California, Nevada, and Oregon.
Step 6: Keep Your Contractor License Valid
Once you obtain your license, it’s essential to keep it active. This often involves renewing it every few years, paying associated renewal fees, and meeting continuing education requirements.
For example, electrical contractors need to renew their licenses every three years in order to continue offering their services without interruption.
Congratulations! You’ve now successfully obtained the professional license needed to work as a contractor in Vermont. However, your licensing journey doesn’t end here, as there are additional licensing requirements your business will need to satisfy in order to operate legally.
Other Licenses You May Need
Below, we’ve explored the various additional licenses and permits that your Vermont contractor business may need in more detail.
State Business Licenses
While general contractor licenses aren’t required at a state level in Vermont, there are certain state business licenses you may need to obtain before you can get up and running.
For example, since the building materials and services a general contractor provides to clients as part of a construction project are generally taxable, you’ll likely require a sales tax license.
Additionally, your general contractor business may require a specific permit from the Vermont Department of Health if it takes on certain types of projects with the potential to put public safety or health at risk, like renovating or demolishing structures with asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
Note: To better understand your general contractor business’s licensing requirements, we recommend checking out our Vermont Business License guide for a more in-depth breakdown.
City and Municipal Licenses
Many local municipalities often impose their own additional requirements that you may be required to satisfy for your business to operate legally in that area.
For example, the city of Burlington regulates local contractors with building permits that applicants must obtain online through their permit portal before they can start certain projects.
Similarly, contractors in the city of South Burlington are required to submit building permits to the South Burlington Fire Department before they can perform several services, including electric work, fire alarm installations, and setting up sprinkler systems.
Note: This is just an overview of the contractor licensing requirements in some of the most populated cities in Vermont, be sure to refer to your city’s government website to find out more about the specific regulations that apply to you.
Vermont Contractor License FAQ
How do I become a licensed contractor in Vermont?
To become a licensed contractor in Vermont, especially in specialized fields like plumbing or electrical work, you must meet the requirements set by the Vermont Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety. This involves completing education and hands-on training, passing an exam, and providing proof of insurance. Check out our article on How to Get a General Contractor License.
Do contractors need a license in Vermont?
In Vermont, not every contractor is obligated to have a state-issued license. However, for particular trades such as plumbing and electrical work, a Vermont contractor’s license is mandatory. It’s essential to research and ensure compliance with state regulations before commencing any contracting work. For more information, see our Vermont Contractor License article.
Do you need a license to be a handyman in Vermont?
Vermont does not specifically require handymen to possess a dedicated “handyman” license. That said, the work of these home contractors often includes areas typically regulated by trade licenses, such as plumbing or electrical tasks, obtaining the appropriate trade license from the Vermont Division of Fire Safety will be necessary for legal operations.
How much does it cost to get a contractor license in Vermont?
In Vermont, the cost of a license can vary depending on whether you’ll be performing electrical or plumbing work. For example, a master-level electrical contractor license requires you to pay a $150 initial application fee, while plumbing contractors the equivalent license costs $120. Be sure to check with the relevant licensing authority for the cost of the specific license you need.