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Tennessee is receiving a lot of positive publicity regarding its beauty and affordability, and most of all the number of people moving into the state continues to increase. Retirees find Tennessee to be a very desirable place to relocate. With the number of baby boomers moving into the state, the housing and home improvement markets are expecting record growth. It’s time to get licensed and reap the benefits. The related articles express the realized and anticipated growth in the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee Vaults to 8th for Retirees
Tennessee One of the Best Places to Retire
Tennessee, the Secret is Out

Do I need a license?

According to the Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors, a contractor's license is needed prior to bidding, contracting, or negotiating a price for the following:

  1. Project with a total cost of $25,000 or more.
  2. Construction Management of any kind where the value of the project exceeds $25,000.

If the building is the owner's personal residence or real estate holding, a license is not required in this case.

Obtaining your Tennessee Contractor License will enable you to charge customers and be compensated for your work.

How to acquire your Tennessee Contractors License

The following are the requirements to obtain your Tennessee Contractors license:

  1. New contractor license applicants must register (see “Candidate Information Bulletin”) and pass the "Business and Law" examination and any applicable “Trade” examination with PSI, Inc. (Information is available on their website at www.psiexams.com) For more information from the state of Tennessee contact:

Board for Licensing Contractors
500 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37243-1150
(615) 741-8307
(800) 544-7693
www.state.tn.us/commerce/boards/contractors/index.html

  1. Contact a Certified Public Accountant (CPA or PA) to prepare a financial statement in the required format. A "Review" is required for limits of $1,500,000 or less; an “Audit” is required for limits exceeding $1,500,000;
  2. Provide a “Reference” letter from a past client, employer, or codes official;
  3. Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLC) must register their charter with the Tennessee Secretary of State, who may be contacted at (615) 741-2286 or information available by: www.state.tn.us/sos/forms/corp-fillin.pdf
  4. Workers Compensation Insurance is required for contractors with one (1) or more employees;
  5. Complete the contractor license application and attach exam scores, financial statement, reference, proof of insurance, application fee and mail to the Board office, by the deadline date of the next Board meeting.
  6. A personal interview with the Board may be required and these meetings are held during the months of January (Nashville), March (Nashville), May (Memphis), July (Nashville), September (Knoxville) and in November (Nashville). (Licenses require Board approval for issuance.)
  7. If licensed in one of the reciprocating states, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi or South Carolina, the trade exam may be waived.

The Best Test Prep Online Course for the Tennessee Contractor Exam

The first step in obtaining your Tennessee Contractor License is preparing to take the contractors test. Our contractors exam preparation Online Course will help you accomplish this task in the most efficient way possible. By practicing all of the possible questions in the Online Course, you will be prepared for any combination of questions that you may be given on your contractors exam. In addition, studying our Online Course helps you become familiar with computer generated tests and greatly reduces your anxiety on the day of your contractor exam since you prepared using a computer based testing (CBT) format.

The next step is registering to take the contractors license exam. This can be done as soon as you receive your study Online Course. The State of Tennessee currently uses PSI Examination Services to administer the builders test. There are 4 ways to register for the Tennessee General Contractor Exam:

  1. Internet - Log onto www.psiexams.com and register for the applicable Tennessee Contractor licensing examination.
  2. Fax - For fax registration, you will need a valid VISA or MasterCard. Completely fill out the PSI Registration Form fax to PSI at (702) 932-2666. Fax registrations are accepted 24 hours a day. When faxing registration materials, please wait 4 days before calling to schedule your examination.
  3. Mail - Complete the Examination Registration Form found in the Candidate Information Bulletin and mail with examination fee. When mailing, please allow 2 weeks for mail delivery and processing before calling to schedule your examination.
  4. Telephone - Call PSI at (800) 733-9267, 24 hours a day and schedule using the Automated Registration System or between 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. ET to schedule an appointment for the contractors license test with a registrar.

The cost to take both parts of the contractors license exam and register is as follows:

Type of License

Business & Law Fees

Trade Exam Fees

BC-A Residential Contractor

$ 44

$ 44

BC-B Commercial Contractor

$ 44

$ 38

BC-b Small Commercial Contractor

$ 44

$ 38

BC-A, B- Combined- Residential/Commercial Contractor

$ 44

$ 38

BC-A, b (sm)-Combined-Residential/Small Comm. Contractor

$ 44

$ 38

You will be sent a confirmation letter of your registry and at that point you may schedule the time and place you wish to take your contractors test. Builders license exams are given at the following 6 locations:

  • Chattanooga
  • Jackson
  • Johnson City
  • Knoxville
  • Memphis
  • Nashville

When you purchase the contractors exam preparation Online Course, we will include the form needed to register for the contractors license exam. Complete instructions for taking the construction exam and directions to the testing centers are also provided.

Taking the Contractors License Exam

You have studied diligently and are ready to take the contractors license exam. You can arrive with confidence knowing that you are prepared for whatever questions may appear on the builders test. It is recommended that you arrive 30 minutes prior to your scheduled testing time. You must present two (2) valid forms of identification when you arrive at the testing center. One of the ID's must have a photograph. The name on the application must exactly match the name on the photo ID used to check in for the contractor exam. In addition, you should bring a non-programmable calculator.

Part 1 - Business and Law Management Examination

There are 50 questions on the Business and Law exam and you must answer at least 37 questions correctly in order to pass. The minimum passing score is 73%. You are allowed 2 hours to complete the exam.

Part 2 –Trade Examination

The Construction Contractor tests consists of 100 multiple choice questions specific to your trade. The minimum passing score is 73%. You must answer 73 questions correctly in order to pass on the exams. The exception is the BC-b Small Commercial Contractor exam in which there are 70 questions and 52 questions must be answered correctly to pass. You will be given 4 hours and 30 minutes to complete the exam. After you have completed the test, your score will immediately be displayed on the computer screen and a printed copy of your results will be given to you.

Obtaining Your Contractors License

Once you have successfully passed the builders license exam, complete the contractor license application and attach test scores, financial statement, reference, proof of insurance, application fee and mail to the Board office, by the deadline date of the next Board meeting.

Traps to avoid

It is a common misconception that since the contractors license exam is open book, it is not difficult to pass. In actuality the builder exam is more difficult to pass than closed book exams due to the fact that you have books available as a resource during the contractor exam. You are permitted to bring certain reference materials into the builder test. The reference materials may be highlighted, underlined, or indexed to assist you in finding information quickly. The books may not be written in and may not contain any additional papers. (Do not use sticky notes or Post Its to index your books because they are not permitted and you will be asked to remove them at the test center.) You are required to bring your own reference materials because they are not available at the testing center. We recommend purchasing the following reference and using them together with our Online Course to give you the greatest chance of passing the builders license test the first time. The following books are allowed into the contractors license exam:

Book Title

BC-A Residential

BC-B Commercial

BC-b Small Commercial

BC-A, B Combined Residential/ Commercial

BC-A, b (sm) Combined Residential/Small Commercial

Business and Project Management

X

X

X

X

X

International Residential Code

X

 

 

X

X

International Building Code

 

X

X

X

X

Code of Federal Regulations - 29 CFR Part 1926

X

X

X

X

X

Carpentry & Building Construction

X

 

X

X

X

Guide to Good Practice for Handling, Installing, Restraining, and Bracing of Metal Plate Connected Wood Trusses

X

 

X

 

X

The Contractor's Guide to Quality Concrete Construction

X

 

X

 

X

Roofing Construction and Estimating

X

X

X

X

X

Modern Masonry

X

X

X

X

X

Pipe and Excavation Contracting

X

X

X

X

X

Gypsum Construction Handbook

 

X

X

X

X

Handling and Erection of Steel Joists and Joist Girders

 

X

X

X

X

SDI Manual of Construction with Steel Deck

 

X

X

X

X

Placing Reinforcing Bars

 

X

 

X

 

Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures

 

X

 

X

 

Training and Certification of Field Personnel for Unbonded Post-Tensioning

 

X

 

X

 

Erectors' Manual

 

X

 

X

 

Printreading for Residential Construction*

X

 

 

X

 

Printreading for Heavy Commercial Construction*

 

X

 

X

 

Printreading for Residential and Light Commercial*

 

 

X

 

X

* The Printreading books are the only books listed that are not allowed into the exam but have proven to be very popular and an excellent resource in preparing for the blueprint reading section of the exam.

If you forget the answer to a question during the contractor exam, having these reference books will allow you to quickly find the answer and complete the contractor test within the time allowed. Going into the builder exam with your toolbox filled with all of the resources available will give you the greatest chance of success. In construction the saying, “Do it right the first time” is often heard. We believe it also applies to getting your Contractors License.