How to Become a Licensed Contractor in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is a little state with a lot of construction work going on, and it is time you got your contractor’s license to grab your part of the work. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the country, but there are still plenty of opportunities you can take advantage of in the growing construction industry. There are four types of specific contracting licenses available in Rhode Island to go along with a contractor’s registration.

Licensed contractor

The Rhode Island construction industry is ready for new contractors.

How Contractor Licensing Works In Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, a contracting business must be licensed with the state, while individual fields within the industry must also be licensed. A contractor’s registration is good for two years and there are separate designations for individual proprietors, partnerships, and corporations. The contractor’s registration license is for commercial and residential construction projects throughout the state. The primary owner of the business must be a resident of Rhode Island and the company must be based in Rhode Island to get a license. There is a mandatory five-hour pre-registration course you must complete before you can submit your completed application.

Specialty Licenses

There is a short list of specialty license groups for contractors in Rhode Island, but each group has several categories. The main groups are:

  • Asbestos abatement
  • Electrician
  • Mechanical Work
  • Plumbing

Asbestos Abatement

Asbestos workers in Rhode Island must be licensed by the state, which involves taking 32 hours of coursework and a test. The different types of asbestos licenses are:

  • Asbestos contractor – There is a list of nine items that must be completed to qualify for your contractor’s license.
  • Asbestos abatement site supervisor – Your site supervisor license must be attached to a licensed asbestos contractor. Rhode Island does not offer individual licenses for freelance site supervisors.
  • Asbestos abatement worker – Each worker must complete their 32 hours of coursework and have their registered license before they can begin work.


Within the electrician field there are several sub-licenses that are available. They are:

  • Electrical master contractor
  • Electrical journeyman
  • Limited electrician
  • Oil burner master
  • Oil burner journeyman
  • Fire alarm contractor
  • Master fire alarm installer
  • Journeyman fire alarm installer
  • Electrical sign contractor
  • Electrical sign installer
  • Apprentice
  • Telecommunications system contractor
  • Telecommunications system technician
  • Telecommunications systems limited installer

Only the apprentice and limited electrician licenses do not require any kind of testing. Each license requires a fee and a certain amount of experience. One of the aspects of Rhode Island licenses that is odd is that the first license you get as an electrician will expire on your next birthday, but you would still pay the full licensing fee. However, when you renew your license on your birthday, it will be good for two years. Out of state contractors are able to apply for a master contractor license if they have held a Rhode Island journeyman license for two full years and have 12,000 hours of relative work experience.

Mechanical Work

Rhode Island is unique in that it has a section of contractor licensing called mechanical work that offers a wide variety of licenses. Those licenses are:

  • Master mechanical contractor
  • Contractor master
  • Master refrigerant contractor I
  • Master refrigerant contractor II
  • Master pipefitter I
  • Master pipefitter II
  • Master sheet metal contractor I
  • Master sheet metal contractor II
  • Natural gas service master I
  • Journeyman refrigerant contractor I
  • Journeyman refrigerant contractor II
  • Journeyman pipefitter I
  • Journeyman pipefitter II
  • Journeyman sheet metal I
  • Journeyman sheet metal II
  • Fire suppression
  • Welding
  • Natural gas serviceman limited
  • Propane gas serviceman limited
  • O/B serviceman limited
  • Gas station limited
  • Apprentice pipefitter
  • Apprentice refrigeration
  • Apprentice combination
  • PJF apprentice
  • Apprentice sheet metal
  • Fire protection master
  • Fire protection journeyman
  • Fire protection apprentice

With the exception of the master contractor license, every license in the mechanical field requires a test for qualification. There is a fee of $75 to take the test, and then a separate fee to apply for the license. There is no classroom work required to take the test, but it is always a good idea to review the test information before sitting down to answer the questions.

Licensed contractors

Now is the time to get your commercial or residential Rhode Island contractor license.


The plumbing contractor licenses in Rhode Island are a little more basic that the other three categories. The plumbing licenses include:

  • Contractor master
  • Master plumber
  • Journeyman plumber
  • Apprentice plumber
  • Master irrigator
  • Journeyman irrigator
  • Apprentice irrigator

Each license has its own fee, and then there is an extra fee to take the exam. The plumbing licensing area is unique in Rhode Island as it allows out of state licensed contractors to automatically take Rhode Island tests without needing to show any work experience. If you hold a journeyman’s or master’s license from another state, then you can automatically sign up to take the Rhode Island journeyman or master plumbing licenses.

All Rhode Island plumbing licenses are good for one year, but they all expire on June 30th of every year. That means that if you get your license on June 1st, you will have to renew again on July 1st. Some of the exam topics covered on plumbing exams include:

  • Water distribution systems
  • Storm drains
  • Traps and cleanouts
  • Joints and connections
  • Terminology
  • Precise calculations

The plumbing exams are based on the standards written in the publication offered by the Building Officials and Code Administrators International. There is no class time required to take the exams, but using a qualified organization to review the necessary materials can enhance your chances of passing each exam. It is also important to make sure that you pull all of your information from the latest BOCA publication because the exams will all follow the very latest standards and rules.

To do your best on any of the Rhode Island contractor exams, you should start a course with PDH Contractors to help you become familiar with all of the material you will need to know for each test. PDH Contractors also has access to other resources that you can use to get your Rhode Island contracting business on its feet and taking on jobs. Keep your database of contracting knowledge updated and your options open when you utilize all of the resources available through PDH Contractors.


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