There are currently over 15,000 general contractors in Arkansas. If you’d like to join them, you’ll need to complete the licensing requirements and learn the rules of doing business in the state.
Fortunately, Arkansas has recently made some changes to simplify its licensing. The state board now provides a temporary license for some candidates, and all applicants can provide a surety bond instead of financial statements.
However, getting an Arkansas contractor license still involves multiple steps. Continue reading to learn more about:
- How to become a contractor in Arkansas
- What are the requirements to get a general contractor license?
- General contractor license types
- Common challenges for obtaining a license
- How to get a general contractor license in Arkansas
- General contractor license renewals
- Arkansas contractor reciprocity
- Insurance requirements for Arkansas general contractors
Interested in working in another state? Check out our general contractor licensing requirements guide.
How to become a contractor in Arkansas
For new contractors in Arkansas, formal education isn’t required, but you will need references that can support the quality of your work as part of the license application process. You’ll also need to meet certain bond and insurance requirements, which we'll explain in more detail below.
Additionally, if you plan to start a new general contracting business and work on commercial projects, you’ll need itemized financial statements to prove that you have the financial backing to support your new business.
What are the requirements to get a general contractor license in Arkansas?
Licenses are issued by the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. The specific requirements to get a general contractor license in Arkansas will vary slightly based on the type of license you need. For a contractors license, Arkansas generally requires the following:
- A completed application for the specific license type
- A $100 filing fee
- Three references who can verify work experience and aren’t related to you
- A $10,000 contractors’ bond (for commercial license applicants only)
- Passing scores on the Arkansas contractors license test (which includes a business and law section)
- Financial statements prepared or reviewed by a CPA or a surety bond
- Proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage if you have employees
To qualify for a license, all applicants must pass both sections of the license test (trade and business and law).
General contractor license types
Here's a closer look at the different general contractor license types in Arkansas:
Residential Builders License: This license allows a contractor to build a new single-family residence and perform structural changes, remodels or additions to all residential projects over $2,000. A residential builder's license will not allow for commercial projects over $50,000.
Residential Remodelers License: With this license, you can perform major structural changes or additions to single-family residences for projects over $2,000. A residential remodelers' license will not allow for commercial projects or completely new builds.
Home Improvement License: You’ll want this license if you plan to perform specialty work, such as painting, roofing or flooring, on single-family residences for projects over $2,000. A home improvement license will not allow for commercial projects, new builds or home remodels.
Commercial license: With this license, you can work on commercial projects over $50,000.
Subcontractor registration certificate: This license allows a subcontractor to work on projects in Arkansas under a contract with someone who already holds an Arkansas contractor's license. For a subcontractor’s registration certificate to be valid, the prime contractor must hold the appropriate license required for all contracted projects.
Common challenges for obtaining a license
If you are properly licensed in Arkansas for a specific type of project, you still may not be legally allowed to perform all the work for that project.
Outside the Arkansas State Contractors Licensing Board, 16 state agencies regulate certification and licensing for specific work classifications, such as HVAC or sprinkler system contractors.
For example, if your project requires electrical work, you may need to obtain an Arkansas electrical contractor's license before completing that part of the project.
Performing work during construction projects without the proper state license or certification may be illegal, so all contractors must have a clearly outlined scope of work and check with multiple licensing agencies before beginning any projects.
Another challenge can be the timeline. Once you open an application, it only stays active for 90 days unless you pay an additional filing fee, so careful planning is a critical part of the application process.
It can take some time to gather the reference forms, study and pass the exam and secure the required bond and insurance.
You must submit your fully completed application to the licensing office at least three weeks before a board meeting for review.
How to get a general contractor license in Arkansas
After you’ve gathered all the application requirements, you’ll need to submit your documentation directly to the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. Requirements vary based on the type of license you’re applying for, so check the site for details.
Your initial fee could be waived if you qualify for the Workforce Expansion Act of 2021. Just complete the waiver form and provide appropriate documentation.
Once the board issues your license, contractors can complete the renewal process online. However, documents for a new license can only be delivered directly to the office in-person, by fax or mail.
How long does it take to get a general contractor license?
Arkansas requires you to complete the application and submit all additional requirements at least three weeks before a committee meeting for review. The Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board meets every three to four weeks. All contractor license applications must go before the board for approval.
Contractors should plan for the application process to take approximately three months, which includes the time to gather and submit the application requirements and the time for review and approval by the board.
The licensing board does offer to expedite applications for active-duty military, veterans and their spouses.
General contractor license renewals
Arkansas general contractor renewals occur annually. You can renew a license up to two years after its expiration date. The board will send a paper renewal around the 15th of the month before your license's expiration date; online renewal access will also be available.
Most renewal applications and fees can be completed via the online portal; however, depending on your license type, you may need to fax or email additional information. Renewal fees are $50.00, and late fees range from $50-$100.
Arkansas contractor reciprocity
Arkansas doesn’t have reciprocity agreements, but you can get a temporary license while working through the Arkansas state licensing process if you already hold a valid contractor's license elsewhere.
A temporary license is only valid for 90 days after being issued, so make sure you’re applying for a new Arkansas license concurrently.
Insurance requirements for Arkansas General Contractors
In addition to the insurance and bonds the state requires, you will want business insurance in Arkansas to help protect yourself from possible risks. Here's what you should know.
General liability insurance for Arkansas contractors
Unlike many other states, Arkansas does not require general liability insurance coverage for general contractors. However, carrying this policy can prevent you and your business from a considerable risk.
General liability coverage helps protect you against property damage and bodily injury claims from non-employees. Many customers require contractors to hold minimum liability coverage before being hired for the job. This protects you and your client from accidents during the project and shows potential customers that you conduct business carefully and professionally.
Commercial auto insurance for general contractors
If you have work trucks or other vehicles as part of your contracting business, you’ll also need to carry commercial auto insurance. Whether your vehicles are small commuter cars with your business name on the title or larger work trucks used for carrying supplies and equipment, Arkansas requires commercial auto coverage for any vehicles owned by a business.
Workers’ compensation insurance
You’re required to have active workers’ compensation insurance in Arkansas if you have employees. However, you can also benefit from having coverage if you are a sole proprietor. Workers’ comp provides coverage for medical bills and lost wages if you or an employee are injured on the job.
Tools and equipment insurance
You can protect your contractor gear with a tools and equipment insurance policy. It pays for repairs and replacements in the event of theft or damage.
Commercial property insurance
Commercial property insurance covers vandalism or damage to property owned or rented by your contracting business.
How NEXT helps general contractors in Arkansas
NEXT Insurance helps Arkansas general contractors get the easy-to-manage, affordable coverage they need for licensing and project requirements.
Our seamless online services can help you get coverage and a certificate of insurance in as little as 10 minutes.
Do you have projects in a different U.S. state? Visit our summary of general contractor license requirements in every state.