Subcontractor Licensing, Credentialing and Certification Information

Apr 26, 2020

Subcontractors generally specialize in one area of construction, such as electrical and plumbing installation or masonry. In some states these construction professionals must hold the proper credentials to be employed. Discover what licenses or certifications may be required.

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Subcontractor Credentialing Information

When looking for information about subcontractor credentialing, it is important to find out about the specific licensure requirements or voluntary certification options for particular occupations, including plumber, electrician, mason, and carpenter. Aspiring professionals can also benefit from job outlook information.

General contractors who oversee a construction project hire independent subcontractors to do specialized work. Most state departments regulating the construction trade require general contractors and some subcontractors to prove their training and expertise. After doing so, applicants often receive credentials (certification or licensure) that allow them to legally practice their trade.

Subcontractors that must be licensed or certified to practice their trade include plumbers, electricians and masons. Subcontractors that do not need licensure or certification include painters, carpenters and drywall hangers.

Required Licenses or Certifications

Each state has specific guidelines for the licensing or certification of plumbers, electricians and masons, which often include minimum experience requirements and passing scores on a written exam in their specialty area. For example, in some states, a masonry subcontractor must take a masonry contractor examination.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that licensure or certification requirements for electricians may include up to 2,000 hours of practical experience and 144 hours of instruction in an apprenticeship training program. Exams may be required of electricians who work with high voltage.

Subcontractors who install residential or commercial plumbing may need up to two years of experience to be eligible for their trade examination. Requirements can vary based on whether a plumber seeks certification or licensure in residential, irrigation or backflow specialties. Those who are qualified to work in all plumbing specialties are often called journeyman plumbers. Per the BLS, they may need up to 2,000 hours of work experience to receive this credential. Subcontractors in all trades who work with hazardous materials, such as asbestos, must complete hazardous materials training programs.

Optional Certifications

Although subcontractors who work as carpenters are not required to be certified, there are voluntary professional licensure options in the field. For instance, carpenters may become certified through the Association of Certified Handyman Professionals (ACHP). They may also earn one of the professional certifications offered by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), which include Certified Remodeler, Master Certified Remodeler, Certified Kitchen and Bathroom Remodeler, Certified Lead Carpenter, and Certified Remodeler Project Manager.

Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of employment growth varies over the industry due to the large variety of specializations. The BLS reported that employment for electricians is expected to grow 10% from 2018-2028, faster than for most fields, due to an increase of wiring in homes and businesses.

The BLS reported that jobs for plumbers are expected to increase 14% from 2018-2028, because of new building construction. Employment for masonry workers is expected to increase 11% from 2018-2028, based on increasing needs for commercial and civil construction projects. Projected job growth for carpenters is 8%, which is about as fast as the national average.

Licensure is required for some subcontracting fields, but optional for others. Job outlook varies by occupation.

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