Oregon General Contractor License: How to Apply
Getting your general contractor license in Oregon is your ticket to entering one of the most prosperous industries in the state.
And according to the Economic Research Institute, the average annual salary of a general contractor in Oregon is $125,000, with projections to increase to over $140,000 in the next five years. Now is an excellent time to get started.
In this licensing guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to get licensed as a general contractor in Oregon.
Do you need a general contractor license in Oregon?
Yes, you’ll need a general contractor license in Oregon if you want to receive compensation for construction activities involving improvements to real properties.
The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) regulates licensing activities in the state. Examples of construction activities that require licensure are:
- Most construction and repair services
- Handyman services
- Manufactured dwelling installation
- Floor covering
- Land development
Examples of activities that don’t require licensure are:
- Cleaning gutters
- Cleaning siding, sidewalks, etc., with a power or pressure washer
- Cleaning up yard or construction site debris
See the extended list of activities that do and don’t require licensure on the CCB website.
Types of contractor licenses in Oregon
General contractor licenses are categorized by endorsement in Oregon. There are two main types of endorsement: Residential and Commercial. You can select either type endorsement or both, depending on the type of structures that you want to work on.
Structures can be:
- Residential, such as single-family homes, apartments or condos that are four stories or less, individual units in high-rise buildings, and manufactured dwellings
- Small commercial, such as convenience stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants, tenant space in malls, and other projects with a value of $250,000 or less
- Large commercial, such as apartments or condos that are over four stories, hospitals, parking garages, shopping malls, and manufacturing facilities
Within each type of endorsement, there are subtypes called classifications. There are four classifications of Residential endorsement:
|Residential Endorsement Classification
|Residential General Contractor (RGC)
|License holder can oversee or perform an unlimited number of building trades on residential or small commercial structures.
|Residential Specialty Contractor (RSC)
|License holder can work on one or two unrelated building trades for residential or small commercial projects or three or more unrelated building trades if the contract is under $2,500. Trades may vary between jobs.
|Residential Limited Contractor (RLC)
|License holder can perform an unlimited number of building trades, but with limits:
• No work contracts exceeding $5,000
• No work exceeding $5,000 per job site per year
• No work exceeding $40,000 in annual volume
|Residential Developer (RD)
|License holder owns properties and can arrange construction with the intent to sell but not perform construction themselves.
There are five classifications of Restricted Residential endorsement:
|Restricted Residential Endorsement Classification
|Home Services Contractor (HSC)
|License holder can offer service, repair, or replacement under a home warranty agreement.
|Residential Locksmith Services Contractor (RLSC)
|License holder can provide locksmith services.
|Home Inspector Services Contractor (HISC)
|License holder can offer home inspection services.
|Home Energy Performance Score Contractor (HEPSC)
|License holder can issue home energy performance scores.
|Residential Restoration Contractor (RRC)
|License holder can offer restoration services for residential and small commercial structures.
And there are five classifications of Commercial endorsement:
|Commercial Endorsement Classification
|Commercial General Contractor Level 1 (CGC1)
Commercial General Contractor Level 2 (CGC2)
|License holder can manage or perform an unlimited number of building trades on any commercial project.
|Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 1 (CSC1)
Commercial Specialty Contractor Level 2 (CSC2)
|License holder can work on one or two unrelated building trades for commercial projects. Trades may vary between jobs.
|Commercial Developer (CD)
|License holder owns properties and can arrange for construction with the intent to sell but not perform construction themselves.
See the CCB endorsement chart for more detailed information and specific insurance requirements for each classification.
Oregon general contractor license requirements
For most of the Oregon license classifications, you must qualify as a responsible managing individual (RMI) to be in charge of construction activities as a Residential or Commercial contractor. To do so, you need to:
- Complete a pre-license training and pass the Oregon contractor exam, OR
- Pass the NASCLA national exam and pass the Oregon contractor exam
And while there are no work experience requirements to meet in Oregon before applying for a Residential endorsement for the first time, there are before applying for a Commercial general contractor (CGC1, CGC2) or specialty contractor (CSC1, CSC2) classification.
A business with Commercial general contractor or specialty contractor classifications must certify that one or more of its key employees (high-level people in a company like owners, managers, or superintendents who oversee the construction work) have the appropriate amount of construction experience:
|Type of Commercial Endorsement Classification
|Construction Experience Required
|Level 1 (CGC1, CSC1)
|Level 2 (CGC2, CSC2)
*Construction experience can come from working as a licensed contractor, journeyman, or supervisor or performing construction work under a licensed contractor. Alternatively, some work experience may be substituted by education:
- Up to three years for the completion of an apprenticeship program
- Up to three years for the completion of a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field
- Up to two years for the completion of a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in business, finance, or economics
- Up to one year for the completion of an associate degree in construction or building management
Additionally, if you will be working on or renovating structures that contain lead-based paint, you will need to complete an approved training class and obtain a special Lead-Based Paint Renovation license.
How do I get a general contractor license in Oregon? (steps)
To get a Residential or Commercial contractor license in Oregon, applicants need to provide all the information outlined in the application:
- Personal applicant information
- An assumed business name, if applicable
- Employer account information, such as an Oregon Business Identification Number (BIN) and Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), if applicable
- Endorsement selection
- Proof of a surety bond in the appropriate amount
- Proof of workers’ compensation insurance or an Exempt Workers Compensation Status Declaration (see this resource for help to determine who is exempt and non-exempt)
- Proof of general liability insurance with the Construction Contractors Board is listed as the certificate holder
- Designation of an RMI, if applicable, for the endorsement selected
- Certification of experience for CGC1, CSC1, CGC2, and CSC2 endorsements, if applicable
- Disclosure of any debts or criminal background
- Payment of the relevant application fee
Submit your application and exam test score report by fax or mail it to the Oregon Construction Contractors Board at:
P.O. Box 14140
Salem, OR 97309-5052
201 High St. SE, Suite 600
Salem, OR 97301
Oregon general contractor exam
To qualify for the Oregon Construction Contractors Board exam, you must be at least 18 years old.
If you have already passed the NASCLA Accredited Examination for Commercial General Building Contractors, you can skip the pre-license training and jump straight to the Oregon-specific exam. Just send in a transcript of your NASCLA exam passage to the CCB. If you haven’t already passed the NASCLA exam, you’ll need to follow these steps:
|Must complete 16 hours
Available from approved pre-license education providers
Training is offered as live classes, self-study by mail, or self-study online
|Oregon CCB Exam
|Based on the Oregon version of the NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law, and Project Management**
Administered by PSI
3 hours to write
70% to pass (56/80)
• Oregon Construction Contractor Laws and Regulations
• Choosing Your Business Structure
• Hiring and Managing Employees
• Working with Subcontractors
• Oregon Lien Law
• Bidding and Estimating
• Scheduling and Project Management
• Oregon Building Codes
• Jobsite Safety
• Environmental Factors
• Building Exterior Shell
• Financial Management
• Tax Basics
See the Candidate Information Bulletin for more information
**The guide might be included in the pre-license training fee—remember to check with your training provider. You can also purchase the manual directly at NASCLA in English or Spanish.
Does Oregon reciprocate general contractor licenses?
Reciprocal license agreements let general contractors from other states apply directly for an equivalent license in Oregon.
How much does a general contractor license cost in Oregon?
You can expect to pay between $460 and $945 for initial contractor licensing in Oregon. Here is a list of all the fees:
|$84-$385 for self-study;
$250-$550 for live classes
|Oregon CCB Exam
|CCB License Application
|$325 every two years
Remember, there are other costs associated with getting surety bonds and insurance policies, so include some room in your budget for extra expenses.
Renewing your general contractor license
Oregon contractor licenses must be renewed every two years and can be renewed up to eight weeks prior to their expiration date. But before you can renew a license, you must complete the following requirements for continuing education:
|Continuing Education Requirements
|3 hours of CCB laws, regulations, and business practices classes
5 hours of other approved courses if the CCB has licensed you for six or more years
13 hours of other approved courses if the CCB has licensed you for less than six years
Level 1 (CGC1, CSC1)
|5 or more key employees: 80 hours
4 key employees: 64 hours
3 key employees: 48 hours
2 key employees: 32 hours
1 key employee: 16 hours
Level 2 (CGC2, CSC2)
|Any number of key employees: 32 hours
|Dual Contractor Registration
(Both Residential and Commercial)
|Requirements are the same as for your commercial license only
What happens if my general contractor license expires?
If you think your license has expired, you should stop all contracting work immediately. By law, all construction contractors are required to be licensed with the CCB before they advertise, bid on, or perform construction, remodeling, or repair work.
Operating without a license is considered a misdemeanor, and the state actively pursues contractors who work without a license. Penalties associated with operating without a license include a minimum fee of $1,000 for a first offense and up to $5,000 for subsequent offenses.
To avoid any issues, make sure you renew all necessary licenses and pay any applicable fees in a timely manner.
How to start a contracting business in Oregon
Starting your own business in Oregon is a great way to increase your income. The Oregon Secretary of State has published a handy guide to walk you through the process.
In the guide, you’ll find a checklist and some specific recommendations, including:
- Ensuring you have the knowledge and experience required for this business
- Drafting a business plan, securing financing, getting professional advice, and knowing about business assistance programs
- Selecting your business name and structure
- Registering your business
- Gathering federal, state, local, and property tax information
- Watching a video about licensing
- Reviewing information about hiring employees
Once you’re registered, there are few more things you’ll need to think about to truly set your business up for success:
- Pricing your services appropriately
- Securing financing and setting up an accounting system
- Finding the necessary equipment and product suppliers
- Setting up general contracting business software
- Generating leads for your general contractor business
See our library of free contracting business resources for expert advice and templates you get you started.
Does a general contractor license in Oregon increase your earning potential?
Yes, getting a general contractor license in Oregon allows you to not only bid for potential work but also successfully collect monies due to you for completed work.
The average annual salary for general contractors in Oregon is around $125,000. But that salary can substantially increase alongside your expertise—the top earners in the state earn around $153,000. You also stand to earn even more than that if you open up your own general contracting business. To learn more about the ins and outs of being a contractor, check out our contractor resource hub.