If you want to legally operate as a general contractor in Nevada, you must obtain a license from the Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB). This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about getting licensed, from eligibility requirements to fees and reciprocity.

Introduction to Licensed General Contractors in Nevada

In Nevada, a general contractor is legally defined as “any person, except a registered architect or licensed professional engineer, acting solely in their professional capacity, who construct or alter any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation or other structure.” This includes subcontractors and specialty contractors.

To legally operate as a general contractor in the state, you must hold an active contractor’s license issued by the NSCB. Unlicensed contracting is considered a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a felony for the third offense.

There are several different license classifications in Nevada. The two main licenses for general contractors are:

  • Class B – General Building Contractor: For the construction and remodeling of buildings requiring two or more unrelated trades/crafts. This is the most common license for general contractors.

  • Class A – General Engineering Contractor: For large fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge, like highways, dams, railroads, etc.

In addition to the general building or engineering licenses, you can also obtain specialty licenses for particular trades like electrical, plumbing, or roofing work. We’ll focus on the requirements for the main Class B general building license in this guide.

Requirements for Becoming a Licensed General Contractor in Nevada

To qualify for a contractor’s license in Nevada, you must meet requirements in four key areas:

  • Experience
  • Exams
  • Financial responsibility
  • Bonding

We’ll cover each of these requirements in detail in the sections below.

Experience

To get licensed as a general contractor in Nevada, you or a “qualifying individual” for your business must demonstrate a minimum of 4 years of experience at a journeyman level or as a foreman, supervisor, or contractor. This experience must be in the classification you’re applying for, and accrued within the last 10 years.

The NSCB will accept the following as proof of experience:

  • Four Certification of Work Experience forms showing 1460 days of experience total. Each form is completed by a past employer or client.
  • Proof of military training/experience.
  • Transcripts from relevant college programs (up to 3 years).

If you don’t meet the experience requirement yourself, you can still qualify by designating someone else with the required experience as your business’ qualifying individual. This person must be a bona fide member or employee of your company.

Exams

In addition to proving your experience, you’ll also need to pass two exams to be licensed as a general contractor in Nevada:

  • Trade exam: Covers building construction topics like project management, site work, estimating, safety, etc. There are 40 multiple choice questions and you need a score of 70% to pass.

  • Business and Law exam: Covers licensing, contracts, labor laws, lien laws, and other business topics. There are 50 multiple choice questions and you need a score of 75% to pass.

The exams are administered by PSI Exams. You can take them at testing centers in Las Vegas, Reno, and Elko. The cost is $95 per exam.

If you are licensed in another state, you may qualify for a waiver of the trade exam. However, the business and law exam is required for all applicants.

Financial Responsibility

To get your contractor’s license approved, you must also demonstrate financial responsibility and stability. The NSCB will review your financial history to determine if you can handle the obligations of a licensed contractor.

You must submit a current financial statement that meets the Board’s criteria based on the size of contracts you intend to perform. Larger contract sizes have stricter financial statement requirements.

For license monetary limits over $250,000, you’ll need to submit an audited or reviewed financial statement prepared by a CPA within the last year.

The NSCB may also require you to submit a bank verification form to further verify your finances.

Bonding

Finally, you must obtain a surety bond to get your Nevada contractor’s license. The NSCB will determine the required bond amount based on factors like your experience, character, and the license classification.

Bond amounts range from $1,000 – $500,000. The bond must be continuous and remain in effect as long as you hold an active license. You may purchase the bond from an authorized surety company.

Applying for an Initial General Contractor License in Nevada

Once you’ve verified you meet all the eligibility criteria, you can move forward with submitting your license application to the NSCB. Here are the steps:

  1. Obtain a Nevada Business ID from the Secretary of State’s office.

  2. Download the contractor license application from the NSCB website.

  3. Gather all required documents like resumes, certificates, financial statements, etc.

  4. Complete the application and submit with a $300 fee. Double check for accuracy and completeness before submitting.

  5. Await your exam authorization and schedule your licensing exams with PSI Exams.

  6. Pass the trade exam and business/law exam.

  7. Once approved, submit your license bond and proof of workers’ comp insurance.

  8. Pay your initial $600 licensing fee.

  9. Your license will be issued and mailed out within approximately 2 weeks.

It’s important to ensure your application is thorough and accurate to prevent any delays in approval. The NSCB does not provide updates on applications in progress, but you can call to inquire once it’s been at least 4 weeks since you submitted.

Renewing Your Nevada General Contractor License

General contractor licenses in Nevada are issued for a 2-year period. To maintain an active license, you must renew it prior to the expiration date.

Here are the steps for license renewal:

  • The NSCB will mail out a renewal notice approximately 90 days before your expiration date.

  • Submit your license renewal application along with a $600 fee.

  • Provide an updated financial statement and proof of bond/insurance.

  • If there were any judgments, convictions, settlements, or disabilities that occurred in the last 4 years, you must provide details.

  • Pay any outstanding fines or fees on your license.

  • Consider taking the Board’s voluntary education courses on business management, law, trade, safety, etc. to improve your knowledge.

You should receive your renewed license within 2-4 weeks of submitting your renewal application. Make sure to get this completed well in advance of expiration to avoid any disruption to your business.

Reciprocity for General Contractor Licenses

If you hold a current general contractor license in another state, you may qualify for reciprocity (also called “licensure by endorsement”) in Nevada. This allows you to waive the trade exam and experience documentation requirements.

To get licensed via reciprocity, you must:

  • Have held an active equivalent license in the other state for 4+ years.
  • Have no disciplinary actions against your license.
  • Submit a verification of licensure form completed by your state.
  • Take and pass the Nevada business and law exam.

The NSCB has reciprocity agreements with Arizona, California, and Utah. Your license from those states has the highest likelihood of being accepted for reciprocity. Licenses from other states may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The process takes 1-2 months on average and has fees of $300 for the application plus $600 for your initial license.

Bond Requirements

All licensed general contractors in Nevada must carry a surety bond or cash deposit ranging from $1,000 – $500,000. The exact amount will be specified during the application process based on factors like your experience and intended contract size.

The bond must remain continuously in effect for as long as you hold an active license. If it lapses, your license will be suspended until new bonding is obtained.

The bond functions as a source of financial protection for consumers in case of defects, breaches of contract, or other problems caused by the contractor.

Residential pool contractors have additional bonding requirements, including a minimum $10,000 consumer protection bond.

Insurance Requirements

Nevada requires licensed contractors to carry workers’ compensation insurance, unless you file an exemption affidavit to certify you have no employees.

You must provide proof of current workers’ comp coverage or a valid exemption affidavit both when applying for a new license and upon renewing your license every two years.

Nevada does not require general liability insurance by law, but most general contractors choose to carry it voluntarily to protect their business. Typical recommended limits are $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate.

Conclusion

Becoming a licensed general contractor in Nevada involves meeting experience, exam, financial, and bonding requirements administered by the NSCB. You must submit an in-depth license application and pass two exams to receive your initial contractor’s license.

Keeping your license in active status involves renewing it every two years and maintaining continuous bonding and insurance coverage. Applicants from AZ, CA, and UT may qualify for license reciprocity without having to retake the trade exam.

Following this guide will help ensure you understand the complete licensing process and avoid potential delays as you work to establish or grow your general contracting business in Nevada.