Painting Contractor (General/Commercial)

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing


License required in 28 states
28th most burdensome licensing requirements
38th most heavily regulated occupation

(Last updated April 24, 2012)


Painting contractors contract with clients to paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges and other structural surfaces, using brushes, rollers and spray guns. They may remove old paint to prepare a surface prior to painting and may also mix colors or oils to obtain desired color or consistency.

Typically, only contractors require licenses, not painters who work for them. Licensing requirements differ based on the scope of the work. Those with a residential license may work only on residential properties, while those with a commercial license may work on commercial properties. In some states, work on commercial properties requires a general contractor's license that is not specific to painting; the requirements are generally the same as a commercial license, and they are treated the same here.


Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia require a general contractor or commercial license for painting contractors working
commercial properties, though most demand only fees or a minimum age. However, the 10 states that require experience -- effectively an
apprenticeship working for an already-licensed contractor -- impose high burdens, ranging from two years in New Mexico and South Carolina to five years in Arkansas. Fourteen states require one or two exams. The experience and exam requirements account for the occupation's relatively high burden rank of 28th among occupations studied.

(Last updated May 2, 2012)

State Licensing Requirements

Burden RankStateFeesEducation/Experience (Days)ExamsMinimum GradeMinimum Age

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