How to Become a General Contractor in Washington State

Title: How to Become a General Contractor in Washington State


Becoming a general contractor in Washington State requires a combination of education, experience, and licensing. General Contractors oversee construction projects, ensuring they are completed to code, on time, and within budget. If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, this article will guide you through the necessary steps to become a general contractor in Washington State.

Step 1: Obtain the Required Education

To become a general contractor, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. While a college degree is not mandatory, it can provide you with a solid foundation in construction management and business administration. Consider pursuing a degree in construction management, engineering, or a related field to enhance your knowledge and skills.

Step 2: Gain Relevant Experience

Building practical experience is crucial to becoming a successful general contractor. Begin by working as a construction laborer or apprentice under a licensed general contractor. This hands-on experience will enable you to understand the various aspects of construction, including project management, cost estimation, and blueprint reading.

Step 3: Familiarize Yourself with Washington State Requirements

Washington State has specific requirements for becoming a general contractor. You must be at least 18 years old and possess a valid Social Security number. Additionally, you must have a minimum of four years of experience in the construction industry, with at least two years in a supervisory role.

Step 4: Pass the Washington State Contractor License Exam

To become a licensed general contractor in Washington State, you must pass the contractor license exam. This exam assesses your knowledge of construction laws, building codes, business practices, and safety regulations. Prepare for the exam by studying the relevant materials and taking practice tests. Once you pass the exam, you can proceed to the next step.

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Step 5: Obtain Liability Insurance and Bond

General contractors in Washington State are required to carry liability insurance and a surety bond. Liability insurance protects you and your clients in case of property damage or accidents on the job site. A surety bond ensures that you fulfill your contractual obligations. These insurance and bond requirements help safeguard the interests of both contractors and clients.

Step 6: Register Your Business and Obtain Necessary Permits

Before starting your general contracting business in Washington State, you need to register it with the Washington Secretary of State. Additionally, you must obtain any required permits and licenses for the specific construction projects you will undertake. This includes acquiring permits for electrical, plumbing, or structural work as needed.


Q1. How much does it cost to become a general contractor in Washington State?
The costs associated with becoming a general contractor can vary. It typically includes examination fees, liability insurance premiums, bonding costs, and registration fees. These expenses can add up to several thousand dollars.

Q2. Can I apply for a general contractor license if I have a criminal record?
Having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you from obtaining a general contractor license in Washington State. However, certain criminal convictions may affect your eligibility. Each case is evaluated individually, taking into consideration the nature and severity of the offense.

Q3. Do I need to renew my general contractor license in Washington State?
Yes, general contractor licenses in Washington State must be renewed every two years. To renew your license, you need to complete continuing education courses and pay the renewal fee.

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Q4. Can I work as a general contractor without a license in Washington State?
No, it is illegal to work as a general contractor in Washington State without a valid license. Engaging in contracting activities without a license can result in penalties, fines, and legal consequences.


Becoming a general contractor in Washington State requires a combination of education, experience, and licensing. By following the outlined steps, you can embark on a successful career in the construction industry. Remember to continuously update your knowledge, stay informed about changes in regulations, and prioritize safety and quality in your projects.