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Construction Law | March 2018

New Arizona ROC Rule to Ease Contractor Licensing Exam, Experience Requirements

Registrar of Contractors’ proposed rule is consistent with a trend recognizing non-productive requirements for occupational licensing.

Applying for an Arizona contractor’s license has historically required passing two examinations and verifying your experience. On March 9, 2018, the Registrar of Contractors (ROC) began the process for making a new rule that will affect the examination and experience requirements for a new contractor’s license.

 

This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of "The Construction Advisor" published by Lang & Klain, P.C.


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The new rule will be largely favorable to contractors, with no detriment to the public, continuing a recent trend in which the Registrar has simplified the license application process, removed the dual-license requirement, enhanced the fairness of ROC hearings, and removed the “project form” requirement from the application.

Here are the highlights of the pending rule regarding examination and experience requirements:

Passing Score 75%

Currently, most license applicants must take two examinations: the business management examination (which will be renamed the “statutes and rules examination”) and a trade examination.

The new rule will raise the score required to pass each examination to 75% (up from 70%). The Registrar reports that, if the passing score had been at 75% in 2017, 640 applicants would not have passed on their first attempt.

Waiving the Experience Requirement

Even with the higher passing score, the new rule should make it easier for contractors to get licensed.

The Registrar predicts that the rule will increase the percentage of successful applicants by reducing, eliminating and clarifying experience requirements. The Registrar will be able to waive experience requirements and instead accept either the trade examination or a nationally recognized certification.

In response to an increased industry-wide emphasis on examinations and certifications, the Registrar is:

  • reviewing all of its trade examinations for currency,

  • identifying which certification programs it will recognize for licensing purposes, and

  • creating examinations for classifications that do not have an associated trade examination.

The new rule will also ease the experience requirement. When the Registrar reviews experience, it must recognize experience that a person gained even while working without a license or for an unlicensed entity. The rule also requires the Registrar to recognize experience acquired when a person was younger than age 18.

The Reason Behind the Rule

In support of the rule change, the Registrar cites a 2017 Institute of Justice report, “License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing” (2nd edition).

The report identifies Arizona as the nation’s fourth “most broadly and onerously licensed state.” Although the report considers all Arizona occupational licenses (contractors, cosmetologists, opticians, etc.), it specifically identifies contractor licenses as part of the burden, stating “Arizona should reduce or repeal its onerous licenses for contractors and other occupations.”

The Registrar also cites its own comprehensive 2017 study of each license classification, which found no correlation between (a) the experience and examination requirements and (b) the percentage of licensees with a complaint. The Registrar’s conclusion: Requiring more experience and examinations from a licensee does not necessarily lower that licensee’s likelihood of receiving a complaint.

Only New Licenses Affected

The new rule will not directly affect anyone currently holding a contractor’s license. Licensed contractors will not need to take a new examination or obtain certification to remain licensed or renew a license. The new rule will affect only those who are interested in obtaining a contractor’s license from the Registrar, either their first license or a license for a new trade.

For example, if you are a licensed landscape contractor who wants to be able to install pools, the new rule would affect only your application for a B-5 General Swimming Pool Contractor license.

More Information

You can read the new rule in the March 9, 2018, issue of the Arizona Administrative Register (scroll down to page 7 of the PDF, also known as page 498).

If you have questions about the rule or any other ROC issues, contact James Hanson at his direct line (480-809-3864) or by email.

Jamie Hanson is a former Chief Counsel for the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.