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May 24 2019

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New Jersey Contractor Licenses

Thomas Jepsen

Similar to other states, the State of New Jersey has its own set of procedures and requirements on how to obtain a contractor’s license. That said, there’s a ton of information you need to sift through and it can be a tad overwhelming to make heads and tails out of them.

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We understand the struggle, which is why we prepared this comprehensive guide to help you out. We took care to ensure that all the information here is clear, complete, and accurate. So let’s get into it! Whatever trade or craft you specialize in, this guide should provide you with a clearer path on how to obtain a New Jersey contractor’s license.

NJ License and Certification Overview

As mandated by the NJ Contractors Registration Act, the State of New Jersey, through the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and its numerous Boards and Committees, requires contractors to register or obtain the proper licenses before performing their trade within the state’s borders.

Through its many agencies, the State is able to maintain, manage, and govern the licensure and certification of different contractor classifications.

To get an overview of how the Division of Consumer Affairs issues licenses, let’s break down a few facts.

  • Home Improvement Contractors (used interchangeably with the term General Contractors) don’t need to obtain a state license to render their services in New Jersey. That, of course, means that they don’t need to take any trade exams. However, they still need to register with the Division.
  • Electrical, HVAC, and Plumbing contractors are required to register with the Division AND obtain a state license from the appropriate Board before they can perform work in the state. They also need to take the trade exam to become a licensed contractor.

If there are any questions you may have that were answered in this guide, you can always contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs through the following information.

NJ Division of Consumer Affairs

124 Halsey Street

Newark, New Jersey 07102

(refer to this PDF for directions)

Phone: (973) 604-6200 (Consumer Service Center Hotline)

(800) 242-5846 (Toll-free)

For Homeowners: Why You’re Better Off Hiring a Licensed Contractor

Is your home in need of a major renovation? Do you have a new chic bathroom fixture that requires installation? Are your pipes leaking in many places?

If you have a dilemma quite similar to one of the above scenario, your most logical choice is to hire a professional contractor.

But don’t just hire any contractor. Hire a licensed one.

We get it. With the way things are in the economy these days, getting a cheaper deal is an attractive notion. Sure, an unlicensed contractor may charge you cheaper rates, but such a transaction will only lose you more money in the long run.

Let me explain some of the major reasons why you’re better off hiring a licensed contractor.

  • They provide better service. Licensed contractors wouldn’t have obtained their license without going through rigorous training and earning sufficient hands-on experience. Having undergone standardized testing and qualification processes, they are more likely to possess the extensive skill set needed to ensure that their services are at least on par with industry standards.
  • They are insured. Licensed contractors carry a liability insurance and a worker’s compensation insurance, providing the guarantee that your financial assets are secured in case of property damages or injuries during the course of the project.
  • They are bonded. If a contractor wasn’t able to complete the project or does something that puts you at a disadvantage, a bond coverage ensures that you’ll receive the appropriate financial compensation to cover the loss.
  • Guarantees compliance with state laws. Are you aware that hiring an unlicensed contractor could land you in jail? Or at least cause you to pay hefty fines? By hiring a licensed contractor, you can rest easy that all proper procedures are being followed. If you want to look out for your own interest, you need to be on the right side of the law at all times.

Contractor License Search and Lookup

Speaking of hiring licensed contractors, you’d do well to take the time to verify the registration or license of a “contractor” you’re looking to hire. Thankfully, the NJ Consumer Affairs website has a License Verification page that allows you to easily lookup contractor licenses.

Once you’re there, you’ll see two options, to do a Business Search or a Person Search. Either way, you can fill the following information to check the status or validity of a contractor’s license.

  • Profession
  • License Type
  • First/Mid Name
  • Last Name
  • License Number
  • City

Using the Division of Consumer Affairs’ database, or abbreviated DCA, it’s easy to search for licenses in New Jersey.

Benefits of Getting a Contractor’s License

Should you obtain a contractor’s license in New Jersey?

The answer is a resounding yes.

For one thing, a licensed contractor can do many things an unlicensed contractor can’t do — both from a practical and legal standpoint.

There’s a ton of benefits in getting a contractor’s license, but let’s start with the main ones.

  • Boosts your credibility. Your contractor’s license is not just a piece of paper. It’s physical proof that you’ve earned your trade. It shows that you went through all the necessary steps to become an expert in your field. It shows credibility in your given profession, and that credibility alone can only be beneficial for your career in the long run.
  • Higher earning potential. Customers, at least the wiser ones, are more likely to hire a contractor who holds a license. Better yet, they are more willing to pay higher rates. Also, only licensed contractors are allowed to bid on big projects. The point? Without a license, you stand to lose a ton of income opportunities.

Here are other benefits of being a licensed contractor.

  • The authority to own your own construction company
  • Being able to legally advertise your services
  • Work anywhere within the state
  • Have other contractors or workmen work for you
  • Compliance to state or city laws
  • Receive tax deductions for expenses on materials and tools

How to Register Your Business

As per the Contractor’s Registration Act, all contractors need to obtain their registration number from the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs before operating in New Jersey.

You have to meet the following requirements to register:

  • Submit a completed Application issued by the Division, along with supporting documents.
  • Fill out the Disclosure Statement page of the application
  • Submit proof or certificate for general liability insurance for a minimum amount of $500,000 per occurrence
  • Pay the $110 registration fee

Note: Make sure that you read through the application packet provided by New Jersey Consumer Affairs. Double check if all required documents are submitted.

You’ve sent your registration… what’s next?

After submitting your registration, the Division will provide you an update on your application within six weeks. The long wait can be a pain in the neck, but you can at least get updates on your registration by visiting the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs website. The link also provides answers to the most common questions or concerns applicants may have about the registration process.

Once your application is approved, the Division will mail your certificate of registration to you. Congratulations!

Your certificate will also come with your registration number. Remember that you’re required by law to include your registration number on any document, contract, or advertisement that involves your business.

Renew your registration annually

Your registered status in New Jersey will remain active for one year, ending on the 31st of December. To remain active, you must renew your registration before said date. That should keep you in business!

To reinstate your registration as a contractor in New Jersey, you need to do the following:

  • Submit a completed Contractors Reinstatement Form (make sure you have answered all four pre-qualifying questions).
  • Attached photocopy of your Certificate of Liability Insurance
  • Check or money order for $140 renewal fee

Submit all documents to:

Division of Consumer Affairs

124 Halsey Street, 7th Floor

Newark, New Jersey 07101

Processing will take two to three weeks to be completed.

Home Improvement Contractor License

To search for a home improvement contractor’s (or often referred to as general contractor’s) license number, go to the previously mentioned page on DCA to access their database.

A Home Improvement Contractor is an individual or construction firm that is typically hired for residential or non-commercial projects. These activities include the repair, renovation, installation, refurbishing, replacement, restoration, painting, construction, remodeling, moving or demolishing of residential properties.

As briefly explained in an earlier section in this article, home improvement contractors aren’t required to obtain a license to operate within New Jersey. They, however, need to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs to perform work, as per the NJ Contractors Registration Act.

How to register as a Home Improvement Contractor

  1. Download the Home Improvement Contractor Application for Initial Registration from the Division of Consumer Affairs website.
  2. Fill out every page and every required field on the registration form.
  3. Include a certificate of General Liability Insurance of at least $500,000 per occurrence
  4. Specify the business model of your contracting business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, etc.)
  5. Sign a disclosure statement detailing if you or any of your employees with at least 10% ownership of your business has been convicted of a crime.

All documents must be mailed to:

Department of Consumer Affairs
Regulated Business Section
124 Halsey Street
Newark, New Jersey 07101

What’s Next?

It will take up to six weeks to receive news of your application. Once your application is approved, you will be mailed a certificate along with your registration number. This number should be included in any document, contract, or advertisement, or business vehicle.

Bear in mind that your registration will be valid for only one year, expiring on December 31. Make sure to renew your registration prior to this date. To renew your registration, you need to complete the Home Improvement Contractors Reinstatement Form.

Electrical Contractor

To search for an electrical contractor’s license number, go to the previously mentioned page on DCA to access their database.

As with most states, you will need an electrical contractor’s license to perform electrical work in New Jersey. The state, through the Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors, issues two types of electrical contractor’s licenses: the Electrical Contractor’s License and the Qualified Journeyman Electrician License.

Electrical Contractor’s License

You need to meet the following qualifications to become eligible for an electrical contractor’s license.

  1. More than 21 years old
  2. Holds a high school diploma or equivalent certificate
  3. Recent 5 years experience in handling electrical tools, installation, alteration and repair of electrical wiring as defined in the National Electrical Code. Equivalent hands-on experience includes:
  • Completion of a four-year apprenticeship program federally-approved agency with one year experience certified by the employer.
  • Has met all requirements of a Qualified Journeyman and completed 1-year practical hands-on experience and a certification issued by an employer documenting the additional year.
  • Holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering plus 2 years of experience with certification by the employer.

How to Apply

  1. Complete the Application form.
  2. Fill out supporting documents.
  3. Attach a full-face 2×2 photo with signature and date written on the reverse side.
  4. Pay non-refundable $100 application fee via check or money order.

You can send your application and supporting documents to the Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors.

Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors

Newark, NJ 07101

Board of Examiners of Electrical Contractors

124 Halsey Street

Newark, NJ 07102

For a complete list of applications and forms, go here.

Do you have questions and concerns about the application? You can contact the Board through the following information:

Newark, New Jersey 07101

Phone: (973) 504-6410

Taking the Exam

You need to take and pass both the Business & Law Exam and the trade exam to obtain an electrical contractor’s license in the state of New Jersey. Both exams are administered by PSI Exams.

The Electrical Contractor Exam is an open-book exam comprising 100 questions, which you can answer within 260 minutes. You need to get a minimum score of 70% to pass. For more information on the Business & Law exam and the trade exam, visit the Candidate Information Bulletin published by PSI.

Content outline

Subject Area # Items

General Electrical Knowledge 10

Raceways and Enclosures 10

Services, Feeders, and Branch Circuits 10

Overcurrent Protection 5

Conductors and Cables 9

Grounding and Bonding 16

Equipment for General Use 9

Special Occupancies 5

Special Equipment and Conditions 5

Motors and Controls 12

Low Voltage and Communications Circuits 6

Examination Fees

Electrical Contractor: $78

Business and Law: $43

Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Contractors

As mandated in the New Jersey HVACR Contractors Statutes, contractors specializing in heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigeration need to be licensed on a state level to operate in New Jersey. The State Board of Examiners of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Contractors is responsible for issuing HVACR contractor’s licenses to applicants in New Jersey.

Master HVACR Contractor: Steps on how to get a license

NOTE: You can only apply for an HVACR contractors license online.

  • Review the information posted on the HVACR Board’s page on the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs website.
  • Check if you’re qualified for the license
  1. Be at least 21 years old.
  2. Meet the minimum educational requirements, which are:
  • A bachelor’s degree in HVACR from an accredited college or university and a minimum of 1-year practical hands-on experience in the installation, repair, and servicing of HVAC systems.
  • A bachelor’s degree in an HVAC-related field and at least 3 years hands-on experience installing, servicing, and maintaining HVAC systems.
  • Completed a vocational training college program and two years field experience.
  • Apply online through the Board’s registration page (you need to create a username and password to proceed)
  • Pay the $100 fee
  • Submit supporting documents to the Board

Supporting documents include:

  • Work certifications signed by supervising HVACR contractors
  • W-2s documenting your work experience in the trade while enrolled as an apprentice
  • Transcripts showing that you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree in HVACR or any HVACR-related field.
  • Those applying under the “formal apprenticeship training” classification must acquire an official document from the U.S. Department of Labor documenting both school hours and work hours.
  • Attach your Applicant ID number.
  • Wait for the Board’s email response (get your application receipt once the email is received).

You can send your application along with supporting documents to the State Board of Examiners of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Contractors.

Mailing Address:

State Board of Examiners of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Contractors

Newark, NJ 07101

Physical Address:

State Board of Examiners of Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR) Contractors

124 Halsey Street 6th Floor

Newark, NJ 07102

If you have any other questions about the licensing process, please contact:

Newark, New Jersey 07101

Phone: (973) 504-6410

After receiving your license, it’s in your best interests to keep it in good standing. Make sure that you renew it on time and that you pay a $3,000 surety bond. If you operate as an HVACR business, you need to secure the required certificate of general liability worth $500,000.

Taking the Exams

To earn that HVACR contractor’s license, you need to take and pass both the Business & Law exam and the HVACR trade exam.

The HVACR trade exam has 50 questions, which you can answer within 130 minutes. You need to score at least 70% (35 items) to pass.

Content Outline

Subject Area # Items

Electrical Knowledge, Motors, and Controls 7

Piping – Refrigeration, Hydronic, Steam, Process 7

Heating and Cooling Principles, Theory,

and Equipment 8

Refrigerants and Refrigeration 8

Fuel and LP Gas 5

Combustion Air, Chimneys, Flues and Vents 5

Ducts, Ventilation and Exhaust 5

Load Calculations 5

Business and Law $83

Application for a Master HVACR Contractor’s License by Reciprocity

As per N.J.A.C. 13:32A-2.5, the State Board only grants a reciprocal HVACR license to out-of-state contractors whose licensure standards are equal or comparable to the requirements established in New Jersey.

The State Board of Examiners of HVACR Contractors has determined that the following States do not have licensing requirements equal or comparable to the requirements established by New Jersey.

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New Jersey Contractor Licenses

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