How To Get Your General Contractor’s License in Iowa

Disclaimer Note: The content in is blog is just for informational purposes ONLY. We ARE NOT licensed, certified, or a party/entity to provide licensing. Please refer to your state’s board on current processes for where and how to get your license.

If you have the drive to better your community and the construction experience to do so, then why not consider putting your skills to work as a general contractor? General contractors also possess a freedom that some others in the construction field do not in that they can set their own schedules by submitting bids only to projects in which they are interested and for which they have enough time.

It is an excellent career advancement opportunity for anyone working in construction. At OnePointe Solutions, we have worked with many GC’s, across the country, including Iowa, providing general contractors with industrial furniture and commercial cabinets for the various bids they come across.

The state of Iowa offers many opportunities to anyone seeking to begin their contracting career. Home to notable cities like Des Moines, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa certainly has no shortage of urbanized areas that require frequent renovations as well as new builds to keep them growing and expanding. However, the general contractor license itself does not exist in Iowa in the same way that it does in many other states.

Rather than obtaining a general contractor license from the state or your municipality, you will instead be required to register with the state as a construction contractor and receive your license as such. 

In Iowa, anyone who performs construction work of any kind and earns at least $2,000 annually for said work is required to register with the state and obtain a contractor’s license. There are two types of licenses, with the construction contractors license being closest to the general contractor license in other states while the specialty contractors license applies to those who work in specific fields such as plumbing, electricity, and HVAC.

We will be focusing on the construction contractor’s license for this article.

Job Description: General Contractor

So what exactly are the responsibilities of a general contractor? Essentially, the general contractor for any given project is in charge of seeing its completion through from start to finish. Before the project can truly commence, a general contractor must visit the building site in question, assess it, create an estimate of the construction costs including labor and materials, and factor this estimate into a competitive bid to be submitted to the client.

If the client accepts, then construction begins, with the general contractor ensuring that all aspects of the project run smoothly by delegating responsibilities among employees and subcontractors and following the estimated budget and timeline as closely as possible.

For the purpose of this article, let’s say a bid was created and accepted for an IT manufacturing plant for computer parts. We would provide the general contractor with a range of industrial furniture like IT/LAN workbenches and/or ESD workstations (depending on the kind of work being done) for the daily tasks, metal cabinets for storage and to keep the plant organized, as well as industrial countertops and seating options that would aid in productivity yet not hinder with the overall plant process.

In addition, if the plant had a breakroom and reception area, we would supply the project with plastic laminate cabinetry and custom shelving for storage. We carry a plethora of well-know brands like Wilsonart, Formica, Nevamar and Arborite to choose from.

Since you may be required to work on-site alongside your employees and field questions as they arise from subcontractors, those seeking to take on this role must have a good amount of experience in a variety of construction fields. You will also need to be able to make quick decisions and compromises to make sure that the project is not hindered by unforeseen challenges and, in the end, meets the quality standards set out by the client.

If you feel you have the experience and skills required to manage a team of employees and take control of construction projects, then continue reading to find out how you can start your career as a general contractor by registering for your construction contractor license with the state of Iowa.

To summarize, general contractors are in charge of the following: 

  • Crew safety
  • Equipment and site safety
  • Permits and street closures
  • Anticipating weather conditions and scheduling accordingly
  • Enforcing quality and safety standards

Special Skills & Qualifications

Any general contractor will need to have some basic skills that simply cannot be gained through education alone. Such skills include leadership, time management, level-headedness under pressure, and the ability to communicate not only to your employees but to your clients as well. No matter where you work as a general contractor, having the following skills will help you in your career: 

  • Ability to read building plans and blueprints
  • Building/construction skills
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Budget and purchasing experience
  • Comfortable working with new people
  • Able to learn quickly and in stressful situations
  • Concern for the wellbeing of others and a touch of perfectionism

Qualifications to Become a General Contractor 

As mentioned above, there are two different types of contractor licenses available in Iowa: the construction contractor license and the specialty contractors license. The construction contractor license is a bit different because rather than dishing out an exact “license” complete with examinations, you are merely required to register with the state as a contractor while providing proof of insurance.

Since the construction contractor license or registration is the most similar to other states’ equivalents of the general contractor license, we will be outlining the detailed process of how to go about obtaining this type of license from the Iowa Division of Labor.

Education & Experience

The state of Iowa has no formal education or experience requirements for those wishing to register as a construction contractor. However, applicants must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid social security number and/or federal ID.

It is also helpful to keep in mind that the work performed by general contractors is often quite intensive and requires a decent amount of construction experience to execute properly. As far as education goes, employers are more likely to hire those who have a high school diploma or GED, and anyone seeking to pursue their education beyond that should consider a degree in fields like engineering and architecture.


Only those applying for a specialty contractor license are required to pass an examination and pay examination fees. If you are obtaining your license for plumbing, hydronics, HVAC, or mechanics, there are separate exams for each that you will need to pass, along with a $35 exam fee per trade. 

Special Documentation & Items

When you mail your application to the Iowa Division of Labor for consideration, you will need to include the following documents and items.

Unemployment Insurance Number

Even if you do not have any employees working under you, all construction contractor applicants must register for an unemployment insurance account and submit their corresponding number. If you are not yet registered, you can do so here.


The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) helps to categorize different types of businesses by assigning them with specific codes. You will be asked to include the code that corresponds to your business along with your application. For example, anyone performing residential remodeling will use the code 236118. You can easily search for your specific code on the NAICS website.

Out-of-State Contractor Bond

Out-of-state contractors must obtain a surety bond of $25,000 from a surety company licensed to do business in the state of Iowa and submit your completed Out-of-State Bond form with the company’s seal and two signatures.

Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Your workers’ compensation insurance certificate must indicate the effective date of coverage and list the “Iowa Division of Labor” as the certificate holder.


Finally, the construction contractor license application for Iowa can be found here. You must fill it out, sign it, and attach all the documents listed above along with your application fee (if exempted, then your fee exemption form) to the Iowa Division of Labor either online or in the mail for it to be accepted.

Indianapolis General Contractor Licensing Fee Overview

The fee to register as a construction contractor in Iowa is $50.00 unless you qualify for fee exemption. Only self-employed contractors who meet the following requirements may submit the fee exemption form and bypass the $50.00 payment:

  • Must not work with or for other contractors in the same phases of construction
  • Must not pay more than $2,000.00 per year to employ other people in the business
  • Must not be classified as an LLC, corporation, or partnership

Average Indiana General Contractor Salary & Benefits

General contractors in Iowa have an average annual salary of $63,659, which is about 16% below the national average for general contractors in the United States.

The Path to Become A General Contractor in Indiana

We’ve given you all you need to know about the qualifications and requirements behind the construction contractor registration in Iowa. Now the time has come to put everything together in an easy step-by-step process to get started with your contracting work as soon as possible.

1. Gather Necessary Documents & Items

Make sure you have your certificate of workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance number, NAICS code, and out-of-state bond (if necessary) to be input onto your application or mailed in along with it.

2. Complete and Sign Your Application

The application for construction contractors in Iowa can be found here. Complete the application in full, sign it, and mail it to the Iowa Division of Labor along with all the necessary documents and items.

3. Pay Licensing Fees

Be sure to include a check or money order in the amount of $50.00 made payable to the “Iowa Division of Labor.” If you meet the fee exemption requirements, do not forget to send in your fee exemption form.

4. Mail Your Application and Documentation

Nearly there! Once you have completed your application in full, obtained your necessary certificates and forms, and gathered the licensing fee or completed the fee exemption form, compile everything together and either mail it to the Iowa Division of Labor at the address listed below or submit your application entirely online at

Iowa Division of Labor

Contractor Registration

1000 East Grand Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319-0209

Need Industrial Furniture For Your Project?

If you’re a general contractor in Iowa or another state in the U.S. and need industrial furniture and commercial cabinets for an upcoming project, give us a call at (866) 222-7494 to speak to a project consultant today.

Questions? Concerns? Want to start today? Get in touch. 866.612.7312

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