A Virginia General Contractor Application Process Glossary

Getting your Virginia contractor license can feel like it requires you to learn a whole new language. The six-page contractor license application is rife with words you probably don’t use in everyday conversation. But you need to understand them in order to make sure you’re meeting all the requirements to properly license your contracting business. 

We’ve got you covered. Here’s a glossary to serve as an easy reference for any words you might not know on the Virginia contractor application. 

Class A, B or C

First things first, you’re going to need to know which contractor license type you want. Virginia issues Class A, B, and C licenses — and the type you have determines how much work you can do in terms of project value. For help picking out the right license class for your business, check out our guide.  


It’s a little confusing that the state uses both class and classification in regards to contractor licensing, particularly because they mean two very different things here. While your license class determines the monetary value of projects you can take on, your classification determines the type of work you do. The state uses classification and specialty pretty interchangeably — and they throw designation into the mix sometimes, too. You might have a classification as a residential building contractor (RBC), for example, or a specialty in concrete contracting (CEM). 

Fortunately, you don’t really need to know the difference between classifications and specialties. You just need to know the three-letter code for the specialty/classification you want, and you can find the full list of them on page 3 of the contractor application

Designated employee

In order to get a Class A or Class B Virginia contractor license for your business, someone needs to pass the relevant contractor exam. This person is called the designated employee (DE). Class A DEs need to pass the Advanced, General, and Virginia exam, while Class B DEs just need a passing grade on the General and Virginia exam. 

The designated employee needs to be a full-time employee or a member of responsible management (explained below). 


This is the organization that proctors both the contractor exam (taken by the DE) and the specialty exam (taken by the QI). 

Pre-license education

To get a contractor license, someone from your responsible management (explained below) or the business’s designated employee needs to complete eight hours of pre-license education. Fortunately, they can do this online via a course you can view here

Qualified individual

Your business needs to name a qualified individual (QI). This is the individual that will pass an exam if it’s required for your business’s specialty or classification. This person needs to meet certain experience requirements depending on your license type:

  • Class A: 5 years
  • Class B: 3 years
  • Class C: 2 years 

They also need to be a full-time employee or a member of the responsible management. 

Your QI needs to pass any relevant exams for the specialty or specialties your business wants to add to its license. 

Responsible management

Basically, this is the person or people who will run the business, like:

  • The sole proprietor
  • All partners in a general partnership
  • The managing partner of a limited partnership
  • Association officers and/or directors
  • LLC managers and/or members
  • Corporation officers


See “classification.”


We hope this makes your Virginia contractor license application process a little easier!