If you’re considering starting a contracting business in Oklahoma, there’s no time like the present. When you’re your own boss, you’ll be able to make your own rules, take projects you actually want to work on, and deal with the subs and customers that you prefer. One thing that’s not up to you? Oklahoma contractor licensing requirements.
Oklahoma has some rules that affect contracting businesses, and understanding those rules will help to ensure your business stays above board. But since getting a business off the ground is a challenge, you might not have the time to sort through all the rules and regulations involving Oklahoma contractor licensing requirements. This guide will help.
Need a contractor license outside Oklahoma? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Contractors License Requirements in Every State.
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Who needs a contractors license in Oklahoma?
You’re probably wondering if the type of contracting you’re interested in even requires a license, and that’s a good question. Oklahoma is one of the more relaxed states when it comes to licensing and registration, and not everyone performing construction work has to carry a license.
Oklahoma mechanics lien law doesn’t require general contractors to carry a state-issued license to work on residential or commercial contracting projects. However, electrical, plumbing, mechanical and HVAC, and roofing contractors do have to carry a license. And keep this in mind; just because the state doesn’t require a license doesn’t mean a local municipality can’t require one from you.
Also, Oklahoma law doesn’t require sole proprietors or general partnerships to even register their business with the state. Corporations do need to register, and we’ll go over that in more detail in a bit.
If you do need to file a lien in Oklahoma, you can reference How to File An Oklahoma Mechanics Lien.
Do you need a license to file a mechanics lien in Oklahoma?
Because the State of Oklahoma operates under fairly relaxed licensing laws, the state’s mechanics lien law does not explicitly require a contractor to carry a license to file a lien.
With that said, it’s never a good idea to contract for work for which the state requires a license unless you hold that license. Even though you’re able to file a lien without a license, there’s a good chance the court won’t look fondly upon your unlicensed status.
How to get a contractor license in Oklahoma
General contractors might not have to carry state-issued licenses, but other contractor types do. And each of the specialties has a unique path to take to secure a license. Other than business registration, all licenses go through the Construction Industries Board.
The State of Oklahoma requires businesses operating as limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, limited liability companies, and corporations to register with the Secretary of State. The list of applications for registration can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
General requirements include:
- Federal Tax Identification Number
- Personal information for all officers of the company
- Proof of worker’s compensation and general liability insurance
Companies will need to create a login and fill out their application online for the fastest registration.
Instead of a traditional master electrician license, Oklahoma offers an Unlimited Electrical Contractor license as well as an Unlimited Electrical Journeyman license. Both licenses utilize this application and will require an examination.
In order to carry the contractor license, you must carry the Unlimited Journeyman license first, and the requirements are:
- 8,000 hours of on the job experience in electrical construction work while employed by an electrical contractor
- 4,000 hours of the 8,000 must be in commercial or industrial electrical work
- 2,000 hours may be satisfied by formal electrical education
Once you carry an Unlimited Electrical Journeyman license, you can apply for the Contractor license. The requirements are:
- 12,000 hours of on the job experience in electrical construction work while employed by a licensed electrical contractor
- Proof of 4,000 hours and 2 years experience as a licensed unlimited electrical journeyman
- 6,000 hours of the 12,000 hours must be commercial or industrial work
- 2,000 hours may be satisfied by formal electrical education
The cost for the journeyman license is $75, and the cost for the contractor license is $330.
Plumbing contractor licenses
Plumbing contractors have similar hoops to jump through. There are two main licenses; Plumbing Journeyman and Plumbing contractor. Both licenses require filling out this application and taking an examination.
In order to apply for a contractor license, you’ll first have to carry the journeyman license. The requirements include:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have three years of experience in either:
- The plumbing trade while employed by a licensed plumbing contractor
- Plumbing trade experience while in the military
- Or a verifiable out-of-state license that’s both current and in good standing
The requirements for the contractor license include the requirements for journeyman and one additional year of experience in the plumbing trade. An associate degree or Career Tech diploma consisting of 1,000 classroom hours may take the place of two years of experience. A Career Tech diploma consisting of 500 hours can take the place of one year of experience.
Once the contractor applicant passes the exam, they can activate their license by providing proof of a $5,000 Corporate Surety Bond payable to the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board. They also need to provide a certificate of insurance proving a minimum of $50,000 commercial general liability insurance.
The fee for the journeyman license is $75, and the fee for the contractor license is $330.
Mechanical and HVAC contractors
The Construction Industries Board offers three journeyman-type licenses and a contractor license. All three licenses will use this application.
The three journeyman-type licenses include an HVAC/R Limited license, an HVAC/R Unlimited license, and a Limited Residential Journeyman license. The requirements for all three of these licenses are:
- Three years of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade, of which the following can act as a substitute:
- Completion of an approved education program consisting of 1,000 hours or more (substitute for 2 years of experience)
- Completion of an approved education program consisting of 500 hours or more (substitute for 1 year)
- Completion of an approved education program consisting of a minimum of 375 hours (substitute for ¾ of a year)
- Completion of an approved educational program consisting of 334 hours (substitute for ⅔ of a year)
- Completion of an approved education program consisting of 245 hours (substitute for ½ year)
Contractor applicants have the same requirements to meet as journeyman applications, with the addition of one more year of experience.
The test for the journeyman license is basically technical trade, while the contractor’s licensing exam consists of technical trade as well as business and law. Also, contractors have to provide proof of a $5,000 Corporate Surety Bond payable to the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board. They’ll also have to provide proof of a general liability insurance policy with $50,000 of coverage.
The fee for the journeyman licenses is $75, while the fee for contractor applicants is $330.
Most of the rules around Oklahoma contractor licensing are pretty similar, but when it comes to roofers, registration is all the state requires. Roofing contractors will use this application to register their business, and the requirements are:
- Must be 18 years of age or older
- Applicant must be an officer or owner of the corporation, member of the LLC, or general partner in a limited liability partnership
- Commercial roofing contractors must:
- Secure a commercial endorsement by taking the appropriate exam
- Provide proof of worker’s compensation insurance
- Complete four hours of continuing education every three years
The fee for application is $75, with increasing fees for late renewal, reinstating revoked licenses, and more.
Penalties for unlicensed contracting in Oklahoma
Oklahoma contractor licensing can be relatively easy and straightforward — but that means the state expects all contractors to play by its rules. The penalties for breaking them can be stiff.
As an example of how serious Oklahoma takes contractor licensing, it considers unlicensed electrical contracting as a misdemeanor offense. This means working as an electrical contractor without the appropriate license will garner a fine at minimum and one year in jail at maximum. Expect the penalties to get stiffer with subsequent instances.
Protecting your payments in Oklahoma
Beyond the rules and regulations surrounding Oklahoma contractor licensing, contractors in the Sooner State have other requirements and deadlines to watch in order to protect their cash flow. After all, all the licensing in the world won’t help if you don’t have the money to keep the lights on. Protecting your lien rights needs to be a priority.
In order for a subcontractor or supplier to protect their lien rights in Oklahoma, they need to send a preliminary notice on all of their jobs. Even general contractors should send these documents as there can be some gray area to the law. Subs and suppliers have 75 days from last delivering labor or material to send these documents, and GCs should follow suit.
Also, all project participants need to keep their eyes on the deadline to file a mechanics lien in Oklahoma. For GCs, this window is four months from last furnishing. For subs and suppliers, this window shrinks to just 90 days, meaning contractors can’t be lackadaisical about their lien rights.
Finally, all project participants have up to one year to enforce the lien placed on a property. But, there is a caveat: The contractor has to wait 90 days from filing the lien before initiating enforcement action. This is to allow the project owner enough time to make good on the lien amount.
Whatever the case may be, Oklahoma contractors don’t have a lot of time to waste. Without a careful eye for details and deadlines, the window to send a preliminary notice or file a mechanics lien might pass them by.