How To Get Your General Contractor’s License in Pennsylvania

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.

Known as one of the original thirteen colonies that continues to house numerous historical monuments, the State of Pennsylvania is rich with history and has plenty of farmland on which to build. So, if you’re vying for a job in the construction industry, Pennsylvania is a wonderful state to live and work.

However, most general contractors in Pennsylvania must register as home improvement contractors under the PA Attorney General. Furthermore, any plumber or electrician licenses will be issued at the city level.

At OnePointe Solutions, we have worked alongside countless general contractors to be their one-stop shop for many of their project needs.

From custom workbenchesPLAM casework and custom laboratory cabinets to epoxy resin countertopslab tables, stainless steel tops and more. We have just about everything to get the job done the, first time.

For more information about the general contracting guidelines in Pennsylvania, continue reading this guide.

Job Description: General Contractor

General contractors, also known as construction managers, oversee a construction project in its entirety. However, before getting the opportunity to manage a project, general contractors collaborate with construction estimators to compile an itemized bid.

Bids contain a detailed list of any project needs, including materials, tools, equipment, labor, and more. 

The bidding process is intricate, but construction managers have to know how to confront any possible issues during a construction project, such as additional financing. Once a bid is accepted, construction managers get to coordinate scheduling, purchase and rent materials, and hire subcontractors for the job site. 

Let’s say a bid was won for a childcare facility.

As a trusted vendor among general contractors, we would be able to supply them with everything they need, to complete the project in one place. Typically for facilities like these, plastic laminate casework is a go to product.

It’s a durable material, that comes a variety of colors, is easy to maintain, elegant and cost-effective too. We carry a plethora of plastic laminate offerings to choose from including: Wilsonart, Arborite, Nevamar, Formica and more.

To learn more about our plastic laminate offerings, click on the links below:

For worksurfaces in the facility, maple block, stainless steel, plastic laminate, epoxy resin, and/or phenolic resin countertops would be ideal. They can configured to a variety of dimension, are all easy to clean and maintain and can withstand the impact of kids from day to day.

In addition, we would design and manufacture student workstations for the kids to do activities on, cubbies to hang their belongings and even create custom storage cabinets to keep the facility organized and clean at all times. No matter the project, for general contractors, we’ve got you covered.

Continuing through our guide, some general contractors work on-site daily, others prefer to hire on-site managers for daily tasks. Regardless of the choice, general contractors must always monitor safety and efficiency on a construction site.

General contractors manage 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

Within construction, each state has unique licensing requirements. However, having special skills proves beneficial in any field. Special skills are often innate, though it’s possible to acquire more special skills through gaining experience. Ideal skills and qualifications for general contractors could include: 

  • 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 in Pennsylvania

To become a contractor in Pennsylvania, it’s important to understand The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Protection Act. This act runs the registration process for home improvement contractors.

To register for a home improvement contractor license, visit the Pennsylvania Attorney General website. Now, let’s dive into further details on the application process for general contracting in the State of Pennsylvania, including cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

Education

Currently, there is not a formal education requirement to be considered for general contracting in the State of Pennsylvania. However, you must be at least over 18 and obtain your high school degree or equivalent to be considered.

Experience

Once you acquire enough entry-level experience, you’ll have a better understanding of the construction industry. For instance, if you’re able to shadow a general contractor, take advantage. Since construction managers have to confront plenty of obstacles on a job site, you will want to be prepared by the time you apply.

By exposing yourself to many different areas in construction, you’ll soon discover that entry-level experience is crucial for the learning process.

Licensing

In the State of Pennsylvania, all general contractors have the option to register for a home improvement contractor license. Keep in mind that this specific registration process requires a credit card fee of $50, with an additional $1.28 processing fee. 

To apply as an individual, provide the following:

  • Basic ID
    • Full name
    • Date of birth
    • Home address and telephone number
    • Copy of driver’s license or state ID
    • Social Security Number
  • Business name, address, and telephone number
  • Federal tax ID number

If registering as a corporation, LLC, or partnership, each partner, manager, or officer in the company must provide:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Home address and telephone number
  • Name of every investor with more than a 5 percent interest
  • All prior business names and addresses of home improvement businesses operated by each partner or manager in the company

Upon registration, general contractors will eventually receive a registration certificate in the mail and will have to write the certificate number on any advertising, contracts, estimate forms, and written offers used in the future.

Requirements

Before you apply as a general contractor in Pennsylvania, here are some other important requirements to know for the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

Exam

Out of the three cities we’ll be discussing in this guide, the only one that requires a specific exam is Scranton. Scranton’s individual applicants must take and pass the general contractor’s license test with a score of 70% or higher. If applying in a partnership, only one partner needs to take and pass the test.

Finally, corporations must have one of their lead officers take and pass the exam to represent their corporation’s license. The non-refundable exam fee is $150, and the exam score will be sent via mail.

Similarly, however, Philadelphia does require you to complete the OSHA-10 Safety Training Course if working on any construction or demolition site.

Financial Documents

All businesses in Pennsylvania are required to register for tax identification numbers, licenses or permits. This includes income tax withholdings, sales and use tax, and unemployment insurance tax. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue has further information regarding business registration and tax obligations.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Any business with employees must have Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage. This can be self-insured, through a commercial carrier, or through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. 

Pennsylvania General Contractor Licensing Fee Overview

If becoming a licensed contractor in home improvement within the State of Pennsylvania, here are the overall registration fees to consider: a $50 application fee and a processing fee of $1.28, paid by credit card. However, each city may have additional fees within the application process.

Average Pennsylvania General Contractor Salary & Benefits

If you’re looking to become a licensed general contractor in the State of Pennsylvania, you can expect to make $124,706 or $60 per hour. This is 1% higher than the national average.

An entry-level general contractor earns an average salary of $87,030. A senior-level general contractor earns an average salary of $155,030.

The Path to Become a General Contractor in Pennsylvania

Do you want to become a general contractor in the State of Pennsylvania? Let’s review the path to becoming licensed in the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Scranton:

Philadelphia

1. Apply Through the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections

You will need a general contractor’s license for any work where you may receive $500 or more. Additionally, you will have to provide proof that your supervisor has completed the OSHA-30 Safety Training within the last five years, and you will have to complete the OSHA-10 Safety Training course.

2. Download & Fill Out Application

Find the Philadelphia contractor license application here.

3. Provide Documented Proof of Insurance

You will need the following documents: an employer’s liability insurance coverage for $100,000 per accident, workers’ compensation insurance, general liability insurance coverage for $500,000 per occurrence, motor vehicle liability insurance coverage for $300,000, a Philadelphia tax ID number, and a city commercial activity license.

4. Pay Associated Fees

The non-refundable application fee is $20, applied toward the license (if approved). The license fee is $100 and is valid for one year. You will need to reapply each year.

5. Mail-In Materials

You may send application materials to:

Department of Licenses and Inspection

Customer Care Unit — PSC

1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard

Philadelphia, PA 19102

Pittsburgh

1. Register through the City of Pittsburgh Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections

Find more information here.

2. Download & Fill Out Application

The Pittsburgh application for contractor registration is found here.

3. Determine Fee

The licensing fee changes each year, but you can access the current fee schedule here.

4. Check Additional Requirements

You will also need: proof of ID to show that you’re at least 18, a certificate of insurance with “The City of Pittsburgh” as the holder and proving liability of at least $300,000 and workers’ compensation insurance, proof of registration to fulfill city tax requirements, and proof of contractor bond.

5. Mail-In Application Materials

You may send application materials to: 

City of Pittsburgh

200 Ross Street – Room 320

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

 

Checks will be made out to “Treasurer, City of Pittsburgh” under the current fee. 

Scranton

1. Apply Through the Scranton Department of Licensing, Inspections, and Permits

You will need to provide your business structure, abide by business structure requirements, and pass an exam.

2. Take & Pass Exam

Individuals must pass the general contractor’s license test with a 70% or higher. Partnerships must have one partner take and pass the exam. Finally, corporations must have one of their leadership officers take and pass the exam.

3. Pay Associated Fees

The exam fee is $150 and is non-refundable. You will receive your exam score in the mail.

4. Provide Additional Documentation

You must show the following: a copy of your driver’s license showing you’re at least 18, letters of recommendation from previous clients, a certificate of general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance, a copy of the Pennsylvania home improvement contractor’s registration, proof of six hours of continuing education in construction for the past year, and a check or money order in the amount of $250, payable to the City of Scranton.

5. Mail-In Materials

All materials, including the completed application, test score report, application fee, and other documents to:

Scranton City Hall

4th Floor

340 N Washington Ave

Scranton, PA 18503

Need Help with Your Project?

If you’re a general contractor in Pennsylvania or another state in the U.S. and have a project that requires plastic laminate cabinets, stainless steel countertops, or custom storage solutions, get a free consultation by calling us at (866) 222-7494 to get started today.

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

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