Starting an Insulation Business: Understanding State Licensing

This article is a generic overview of what you can expect when getting a license to insulate. Not every state has a requirement that an insulator be licensed. However, most do and it is important that you do due diligence in learning about your state. Hopefully this article will give you a start and help you with questions regarding licensing and what to expect.

Since the information contained here is NOT an official guide to state regulations, please feel free to provide input at the bottom of this article to help us keep current! We provide links to each state’s requirements. These links may change. We try to keep these links current.

Importance of State Licensing

If your state requires licensing, then you are bound to have one. Even if you are thoroughly skilled, it is important to recognize the state’s governing authority. If you end up in court, defending your work, a judge will ask for your license. If you don’t have it, you could end up losing even if you did the work.

Do I need a license? If you work under a licensed general contractor, then you don’t need to be licensed. Your contractor’s license will typically provide the umbrella for the jobsite. Check with your state and local municipality. If you work on your own for a retrofit, you will need a license to protect yourself in the case of a lawsuit.

Individual or Company License? Some states allow you to have an individual license or a company license. As the owner of an insulation company, choose to get a company license. If you are a subcontractor, then let the contractor’s license govern the project. You will certainly need a license if you break off and do your own work for an individual home owner.

Builder’s License or Specialty License? States often have two kinds of licensing for an insulation contractor. The builder’s license includes insulation licensing. A specialty license as an insulation contractor will not include other areas of building. As a weatherization contractor, don’t limit yourself. Get the full builder’s license. It usually takes the same amount of money, applying and testing to get a builder’s license. PLUS: I doubt you will find a specific insulation class to prepare you for the examination.

Typical Steps

Find a local testing service (typically a few hundred dollars)

Find a local contractor’s / builder’s testing class. This preparation is INVALUABLE! Even the experienced contractor will greatly benefit from these classes. You will be given an overview of the examinations. The class is developed to help you pass the examination. If you take the class and study the material, you will have great chances at passing the exam the first time.

Another benefit to the class is that the tests contain questions that seem obvious in their answer, however, you can fail if you do not provide the answer the state is expecting. For example, when I was taking an exam, a question was asked, “What is the best tool to cut a batt of insulation?” They provided multiple choices that included a utility knife, saw, or scissors. Obviously, when cutting through a thick batt of insulation, the correct answer is “utility knife.” Wrong! They expected “scissors.” Taking a testing class will help you through some of these crazies!

Application (typically a couple hundred dollars)

At the end of your class, you will have an opportunity to apply for the license. Make sure you apply for the test so that you are scheduled to take it soon after you finish your class.

Experience

Not every state requires experience. Some states require at least two years experience in the insulation field.

Examination

You usually get to retake the exam. However, if you take a class to prepare for the exam, then you should be able to pass it the first time. It is our experience that these exams are not exactly testing your building knowledge. Like any test, you will find the test to be very good and at times absurd.

Waiting Period

You applied, paid the state, taken the examination… now comes the wait. It takes up to 6 weeks to get your license, even in this digital age.

Residential Contractor or Specialty License?

In Michigan, you can take classes to prepare for a residential builder’s license. It is more comprehensive than a maintenance and alteration contractor license, but the cost is the same and the testing is similar.

Reciprocity

Some states recognize other state’s licensing. However, this is not automatic reciprocity. You will have to complete an application to the state in which you want to work.

Licensing Requirements & Reciprocity by State

This table is not an official guide and is not to be used in place of your state and local municipalities requirements. PLEASE contribute in the comments section below if you find an error or have any suggestions!
StateLicensing RequirementsLinkReciprocates With
AlabamaNot required. Offers Builder's LicenseAlabama.Gov
AlaskaRequires either: Residential Contractor or Specialty Contractor (Acoustical and Insulation Contractor)State.AK.US
ArizonaRequires: Contractor LicenseAZroc.GovCalifornia, Nevada, Utah
ArkansasRequires either: Residential Building Contractor or Residential Remodeler Specialties (Insulation)Arkansas.Gov
CaliforniaRequires: Contractor LicenseCA.GovArizona, Nevada, Utah
ColoradoNot required.Colorado.Gov:DORA
ConnecticutRequires: Need both if working in existing and new residential: Home Improvement Contractor & New Home Construction ContractorCT.Gov
DelawareRequired: Resident Contractor Package or Non-Resident Contractors PackageDelaware.GovAny state but must complete Non-Resident Contractors Package
FloridaNot RequiredMyFloridaLicense.com
GeorgiaNot RequiredSOS Georgia.Gov
HawaiiNot Required
IdahoRequired: ContractorsIdaho.Gov Licensing
IllinoisNot RequiredIllinois DFPR
IndianaNot RequiredIn.gov
IowaRequired: Construction ContractorsIowa ContractorsAny state but must post a bond.
KansasNot Required at State Level: Must see local licensing requirementsNetwork Kansas
KentuckyNot RequiredKentucky Division of Building Codes
LouisianaRequired: Home Improvement ContractorsLouisiana
MaineNot RequiredMaine.Gov
MarylandRequired: Home Improvement ContractorMaryland.Gov
MassachusettsRequired: Under Home Improvement ContractorMass.Gov
MichiganRequires either: Residential Builder or Maintenance and Alteration Contractor (Insulation)Michigan.Gov
MinnesotaNot Required: Exempt because insulators are considered "special skill"Minnesota DOLI
MississippiRequiredMississippi Board of Contractors
MissouriNot Required at State Level: Probably not required at local level. Consult local licensing requirementsMissouri Business.net
MontanaRequired: RegistrationMontana Registration
NebraskaRequired: RegistrationNebraska DOL
NevadaRequiredNevada Contractors BoardArizona, California, Utah
New HampshireNot RequiredNew Hampshire Fire Safety
New JerseyRequiredNJ Consumer AffairsOut of State Contractors must Register
New MexicoNot RequiredNew Mexico Construction
New YorkRequiredNew York
North CarolinaRequired: Building Contractor with a Specialty (Insulation)North Carolina Licensing BoardOur of State Contractors pay a fee
North DakotaRequiredNorth DakotaOut of State Contractors to contact Labor Commission
OhioNot Required at State Level: Contact local municipalitiesOhio Construction Industry Licensing Board
OklahomaNot RequiredOklahoma Construction Industries Board
OregonRequiredOregon.Gov
PennsylvaniaRegistration Required for Home Improvement ContractorsPA Uniform Construction Code
Rhode IslandRegistration RequiredRhode Island Contractors Licensing and Registration Board
South CarolinaRegistration Required, not LicenseSC Department of LLR
South DakotaNot RequiredSD Department of Labor and Regulation
TennesseeNot RequiredTN Fire Prevention Division
TexasNot RequiredTexas Department of Licensing and Regulation
UtahRequiredUtah Division of Occupational & Professional LicensingArizona, California, Louisiana, Nevada, South Carolina. See this
VermontNot RequiredVermont Division of Fire Safety
VirginiaRequired: under Contractors headingVirginia Board for Contractors
WashingtonRequired: Defined as ContractorWashington State Registration of Contractors
West VirginiaRequired for work over $2,500: Defined as ContractorWest Virginia Division of Labor
WisconsinNot RequiredWisconsin DSPS
WyomingNot Required at State LevelWyoming Contractor Licensing PDF