Painters are the finishers of the construction world, tying a project up into a polished, presentable package. Plastering and taping up a room helps to hide any and all flaws made by the contractors and builders who came before. Then, applying primer and a couple of coats of paint make a space truly shine. Without a proper paint job, no renovation or development project would look complete.

Being such a vital part of the construction process, it makes sense that painters need to secure licensing in order to operate. However, the specific qualifications needed can vary depending on where you’re located.

Let’s take a look at the rules for painting the town in different states across the country.

How to get a painting license in each state

There’s no specific law that governs licensing for painters on a federal level. While electricians and certain other professions can rely on this type of consistent qualification wherever they are in the US, the same can’t be said for painters.

Instead, the particular documents and experience required differ across state lines.

For instance, some states don’t require specific licensing for painters.

For those that do, here are the painter license requirements by state, listed alphabetically:

  • Alabama – To take on projects over $50,000, you need to complete the Alabama Business and Law Exam and prove that you have:
    • Three years of experience
    • Three completed projects
  • Alaska – There are three levels of licensure obtained by filling out a licensing application with the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing in Alaska:
    • Specialty contractor (commercial and residential)
    • General contractor (commercial and limited residential)
    • General contractor (unlimited commercial and residential)
  • Arizona – Arizona also has distinct licenses:
    • Commercial licensure requires two years’ experience and an exam
    • Residential licensure requires one year of experience and an exam
  • Arkansas – If you take on projects valued at $2,000 or more, you must pass the Business and Law exam and prove you have insurance.
  • California – To take on projects of just $500 or more, you need to prove to the California Contractors State Licensing Board that you have at least four years’ experience as one of the following:
    • Journeyman
    • Contractor
    • Supervisor
    • Foreman
  • Connecticut – In order to operate legally, you’ll need to register with the Department of Consumer Protection, which entails proving your knowledge of the painting trade.
  • Delaware – Painters in Delaware need to pass an exam to register with the state’s Division of Revenue.
  • Florida – You need to register with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, passing a test on relevant subject matter and legal and business matters.
  • Georgia – To take on projects over $2500 in value, you will need to:
    • Prove two years’ worth of working experience
    • Pass the Georgia Business and Law exam
  • Hawaii – To get the Professional and Vocational licensing you need, you’ll have to pass a test and prove you have insurance.
  • Kansas – While there is no state level licensing for painters, you will need to register with the Department of Health and Environment if you regularly use or come into contact with lead paint.
  • Louisiana – There are four levels of licensure available from the State Licensing Board for Contractors, all of which require passing a test:
    • Commercial
    • Residential
    • Home improvement
    • Mold remediation
  • Maryland – You need to prove two years of experience in painting, as well as provide proof of insurance. You’ll also need to pass a test and provide information on your painting business registration. Licenses are valid for two years at a time.
  • Michigan – There are two particular licenses that you may choose between, each of which requires testing:
    • Residential Builders License
    • Maintenance and Alterations Builders License
  • Minnesota – While commercial painting doesn’t require licensure, you will need to pass a test to become certified for residential painting.
  • Mississippi – The State Board of Contractors issues licensing based on testing for trade and business/law knowledge.
  • Montana – If you have employees, you must register with the Department of Labor and Industry. If you don’t employ anyone, you’re exempt.
  • Nevada – You need to obtain a Painting and Decorating Painting License by passing an exam and proving four years’ worth of experience. Nevada also has a reciprocity agreement (meaning you can also use your license there) with the following states:
    • Arizona
    • California
    • Utah
  • New Jersey – You must register with the Division of Consumer Affairs. You also need to display your registration number prominently on all advertisements and business documents, as well as in your place of business.
  • New Mexico – You need to pass a trade exam and business and law exam. Also, you’ll need to prove two years’ worth of experience.
  • North Carolina – You’ll need a business license to take on projects worth $30,000 or more. Classes are also required for certification to work with lead.
  • Pennsylvania – Specific painting licensure form the Department of Labor and Industry is only required if you regularly work with or come into contact with lead paint.
  • Rhode Island – You need licensing to paint any home built before 1978—again due to lead. An eight-hour course is a prerequisite for your license application.
  • Tennessee – There are levels of licensure depending upon the scope of projects you take on:
    • Home Improvement for jobs between $3,000 – $25,000 in value
    • Contractors licensing for jobs over $25,000
  • Utah – You need to pass a test and prove to the Contractor License Center that you have over two years of experience, as well as insurance.
  • Vermont – There are no licenses required in Vermont, unless you work with lead paint. Then, you need lead abatement certification.

As you can see, the process of getting a business license to become a painting contractor can vary pretty widely depending on where you are in the US. It’s even more complicated if you plan on operating in multiple states at once.

Thankfully, getting insurance with Thimble is simple, wherever you are.

How to get insured as a painter

Here at Thimble, we understand small businesses.

We know that, between licensing, certification, and every other hoop you need to jump through, you want simple solutions wherever you can find them.

That’s why we’ve revolutionized small business insurance, making it not just possible but easy to get a custom-made plan at a low cost. Thimble’s Contractor Insurance plans comprise coverage for all kinds of third-party claims, including but not limited to:

  • Medical costs due to accidents
  • Defense and legal fees
  • Property damage

And, best of all, you can purchase liability insurance by the hour, day, or month. Save money by paying only for coverage when you need it. Signup can be done in just 60 seconds by downloading the Thimble app or clicking “Get a Quote.”

It’s insurance made simple.

Get licensed, covered, and started!

Wherever you hope to conduct your painting business, you’ll need to make sure you secure the proper licensing and certification. The detailed licensing requirement breakdown above is a good primer for anyone hoping to enter the field, or for painters looking to expand their operation into another state. But licensure is only half the battle.

Once you’re certified, make sure to get general liability insurance you can count on.

Then, get out there and get painting! Residential and commercial properties in your state are waiting for your finishing touch.