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Examination Information

Individuals wishing to become licensed as a North Carolina Irrigation Contractor must submit a completed application to the Board for approval, (click here for instructions), and then pass the North Carolina Irrigation Contractors’ Licensing Exam. This exam is prepared by the Irrigation Association (“IA”) and is also used for their Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) program. The exam consists of 150 equally weighted multiple choice questions on irrigation design, irrigation installation, irrigation scheduling, water management and conservation, maintenance and repair, federal laws and codes, and general business management. Candidates have three and a half hours to complete the exam.  Click here for an outline of the general topics that are on the exam.

While preparing for these general topics, pay attention to areas such as:

  • Types of pipe and fittings
  • How to successfully solvent weld pipe and fittings
  • Gasketed pipe and fittings
  • Fittings other than PVC
  • Pipe and fittings repair
  • Examples of fittings failure
  • Electrical trouble shooting and devices used to accomplish electrical trouble shooting
  • Types of contracts used in operating a business
  • Types of insurance, bid bonds
  • Types of business records needed to successfully operate a business
  • OSHA rules and regulations
  • Understanding, reading and developing plans, drawings and specifications

Scoring: A passing score is 70%.  The score required by the Irrigation Association to obtain CIC designation is typically between 71% and 76%, so although 70% is passing in order to obtain your North Carolina Irrigation License you would have to retake the exam and meet the Irrigation Association requirements in order to receive the Irrigation Association CIC designation.   Results from the exam are normally received in three (3) to four (4) weeks.  Candidates who fail examinations are provided a sheet showing the number of correct and failed responses in each domain.

Extra Credit:  In order to educate the licensee regarding the specific Rules adopted by the NC State Legislative Rules Committee and NC General Statute § 89G, the Board has created an extra credit test that is taken directly after the main exam.  The 15 multiple choice questions take approximately 30 minutes and are worth 22.5 points, or 1.5 points for each question.  There is no additional charge to take this short test.

Examination Costs: Once a candidate is approved by the Board to sit for the exam, the candidate will receive an order form that must be returned with payment.  The cost of taking the exam is $300.00.  Candidates that fail the exam may retake the exam at a cost of $200.00.  There is a $50 cancellation fee.  Board policy allows your exam fee to be deferred one time and can only be applied towards the next administration of the exam.  If you cancel the next exam date you will forfeit the exam fee and have to pay the full exam fee and exam costs the next time you request to sit for the exam.  No shows will be required to pay a $50 cancellation fee and will forfeit exam fees and exam costs.  Request for refund of examination fees must be in writing. 

Examination Dates: Examinations are offered every three months in Raleigh, NC.  The upcoming exam dates can be found on the Board website calendar, and are subject to change.

Study Guides: Several resources have been identified to help prepare candidates for the exam.  Some of these resources must be purchased by the candidate, while others are free and available from the IA website.  These resources are listed below.

There is also an online preparatory class that is offered by the Carolinas Irrigation Association (CIA).  Please contact them directly for information at  The NC Irrigation Contractors’ Licensing Board did not develop this class and is not involved in offering the class.

The Licensing Board does not require a candidate to purchase any study material, attend any preparatory classes or do any studying on their own prior to taking the exam, but each of these items will help to improve the chances of passing the exam.  Passing the Licensing Exam is the only way to become a Licensed North Carolina Irrigation Contractor

STUDY MATERIALS:   Following is a list of recommended references to help you in your studies.

Irrigation Association Store Website
Carolinas Irrigation Association Store Website (for purchasing “The Irrigation Contractor Exam Study Guide, 2nd edition)


  • Landscape Irrigation Contractor 3rd Edition, Oct., 2014
  • Principles of Irrigation, 3rd Edition, Feb., 2013
  • The Irrigation Contractor Exam Study Guide, 2nd edition


  • Irrigation, 6th Edition, 2011

Licensing Practice Exam – $100
Prepare for your exam by taking a certified irrigation contractor practice exam.  These exams are online, non-proctored, open book and multiple-choice.  They are available to be taken from your home or from our office computer.  There are 40 questions that are consistent with the NCICLB exams’ detailed content outline.  Supplies resources for feedback on questions that are answered incorrectly.

Free downloads from the IA Website

  • Designing, Operating, and Maintaining Piping Systems Using PVC Fittings,
    Ron D. Bliesner – February 3, 1987
  • Standards, Codes, and Regulations
  • Equation Sheet 

Landscape Irrigation Best Management Practices

Irrigation Glossary of Terms

Exam Aids and Tips: The equation sheet contains all of the equations used on the exam and may also be downloaded from the IA website. The candidate must be familiar with all of the equations and know how to use them.  A clean copy of the equation sheet will also be provided to the candidate in the examination package the day of the exam.

The following items are required for taking the exam:

  • A scientific calculator
  • A protractor
  • A straight edge
  • An engineer’s scale
  • No. 2 pencils.

Other materials that can be used are:

  • A programmable calculator
  • A measuring wheel to measure pipe length on a plan

Items that cannot be used on the exams include:

  • Books
  • Personal computers
  • Notes
  • Cellular telephones
  • PDA’s or other electronic devices

When taking the examination if there is a question you do not understand or cannot quickly determine a solution, skip that question and move to the next question. On a 150 question exam, without any breaks, you have 1.40 minutes per question.  Some questions may take a couple of minutes to solve, while others will take 15 seconds.  Do not spend 5 minutes on a question until you have completed the exam and then go back and work on the questions you skipped.  When unsure of an answer, typically your first instinct will be the correct one.  There will be some questions that you do not know the answer or cannot solve.  On those questions take a guess at the answer.  You have a 25% chance of getting the right answer.  Remember you do not have to make 100 percent, only 70 percent.

Passing the Exam: Upon successful completion of the exam and prior to being licensed, the candidate must:

  • Post a Surety Bond in the amount of $10,000 or an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $10,000 from a bank.
  • Order a seal (the Board will provide the order form).
  • Submit a corporate application to the Board along with a $100 application fee. (For anyone other than a sole proprietor)

Continuing Education:Yearly continuing education is required for license renewal. During the calendar year that the candidate passes the NCICLB examination, the successful candidate will be considered to have met the criteria for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for that calendar year. If the candidate attended the preparatory class given by the Carolina’s Irrigation Association the candidate will have also met the continuing education requirement for the second calendar year of licensure.

If the candidate does not fit into either of the criteria above then the individual is required to obtain ten (10) hours of continuing education. Included in those 10 hours are a minimum of two (2) /maximum of four (4) business hours and six (6) to eight (8) hours of landscape irrigation for a total of ten (10) hours. All Board approved continuing education courses are listed on the Board website at along with continuing education categories, guidelines and definitions.



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