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Examination Information

ANNOUNCEMENT: The NCICLB is currently working on creating a new licensing exam. The Board expects to have the new exam completed by summer 2024, and plans to start scheduling dates as soon as possible. See below for most recent updates.

Application Instructions

The NCICLB has some great news: the new exam is in its final stages of creation, and we have lots of new info to share! I am reaching out to give you the most recent information about the exam that the Board has approved so far. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out.

The NCICLB exam will be focused on (4) key areas: Water Efficiency/Conservation, Irrigation Contracting, Irrigation Construction and Basic Business Skills.

The exam will be divided into three (3) sections

  1. Water Efficiency/Conservation
  2. Irrigation Contracting/Irrigation Construction
  3. Basic Business Skills – This includes calculating basic business computations (ie: calculating Profit Margins, estimating, calculating job costs, calculating labor and/or material costs and areas that would assist in a licensed irrigation contractor to be profitable)

Each section will be scored separately. Once a section is passed, it does not need to be retaken. All 3 sections must be passed in order to be eligible for licensure.


–      Open Book – candidates may use books/references during the exam (electronic devices will NOT be allowed)

–      Exam will be given on paper (pen/paper)

–      Questions will be a mix of multiple choice and multiple answer

Number of Questions: 150

Time Limit: 4 Hours

Passing Scores:                                             

Water Efficiency/Conservation: 75%

Irrigation Contracting/Irrigation Construction: 70%

Basic Business Skills: 70%

Retests of individually failed sections: Yes

Exam Fees (subject to change/reviewed annually): $340 first exam / $240 for any subsequent try, or retake of any section(s)

Frequency of exam: Candidates may take the NCICLB exam a maximum of four (4) times per calendar year. There is no set required wait time between tries – a candidate who does not pass, and would like to retake the exam, may do so at the next available session.

Guidelines: The publicly available/open-source information will be combined into a PDF or similar format and emailed to candidates. Any purchasable resources will be the candidate’s responsibility to acquire (if desired).

Study Guide: The Board will NOT supply a NCICLB exam specific study guide. It is the candidate’s responsibility to decide on/compile study materials and references.

NOTE: All recommended reference materials are just that, recommended materials – there are many resources that can be useful; those materials that are not specifically recommended are the candidate’s responsibility to locate and use to educate themselves.

Recommended Study Material: North Carolina General Statute §89G, NCAC Chapter 23 (rules/minimum standards)

Additional Recommended Reference Books to Purchase: Principles of Irrigation, Third Edition, any basic business skills or math education books/resources, manufacturer’s guidelines for installation and service, and any other source the candidate believes may be advantageous to their test taking endeavor. Reference books can be bought from multiple different sources. Administration recommends doing your own research in finding books for the best price. *Used copies of most reference books can be found through online searches and many popular e-commerce sites, sometimes for better prices.*

Along with NC §89G (statutes), and Chapter 23 (rules), we will compile a list of all relevant resources. Full resource lists/files will be supplied to all candidates once complete.

While we do not have a set schedule of exam dates yet, the Board is hopeful to begin administering the exam this summer! All candidates will receive notification of the first available date(s) at least one month in advance. The exam will be given at least 2 times annually in larger groups, and the Board is working on creating a system in which candidates will have the option to schedule retests on a more regular basis.

More information will be shared as it becomes available. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Board Administration.

Since 2009, the NCICLB has used the Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) exam prepared by the Irrigation Association (IA) as the licensing exam. After May 17, 2023, the CIC will no longer be administered by the NCICLB. However, individuals will still have the ability to take the CIC through the IA, and apply for licensure with the NCICLB by “previous CIC”.

Individuals who wish to become licensed prior to the new exam being available are encouraged to take the CIC exam through the IA in order to apply for an NC irrigation contractor license by previous CIC. Please note: solely passing the CIC exam does NOT grant licensure. After passing, you must complete the application process through the NCICLB before receiving a license.



The following information provided pertains to the CIC exam:
Exam Content Outline

When preparing for the exam, 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
  • NC State laws

Study Guides: Several resources have been identified to help prepare candidates for the exam.  Some of these resources must be purchased, while others are free.  It is up to the candidate and their budget as to how many references they purchase.  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 for the exam and a glossary of landscape irrigation terms can be found on the Irrigation Association website.  The primary references can be purchased from the IA store: Irrigation Association Store Website.  If you have trouble finding any of the materials on the Irrigation Association’s website, please call them directly at (703) 536-7080.

Primary References in Order of Importance (CIC):
1. Landscape Irrigation Contractor, 3rd Edition
2. Principles of Irrigation, 3rd Edition
3. Irrigation, 6th Edition

Free Downloads (CIC):

Licensing Practice Exam(CIC):
You can prepare for your exam by taking a certified irrigation contractor practice exam on the Irrigation Association website.  These exams are online, non-proctored, open book and multiple-choice.  They are available to be taken from your home or office computer.  There are 40 questions that are consistent with the NCICLB exams’ detailed content outline.  It also supplies resources for feedback on questions that are answered incorrectly.

The following items are required for taking the exam (CIC):

  • 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.  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.  



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

  • Obtain a Surety Bond in the amount of $10,000 or an irrevocable letter of credit in the amount of $10,000 from a bank.  The original Surety Bond MUST be submitted to the Board.
  • Order a seal (the Board will provide the order form).
  • If applicable submit a corporate application to the Board along with a $100 application fee.

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 Continuing Education (CE) requirement for that calendar year.

If the candidate does not fit into the criteria above, the individual is required to obtain ten (10) credits of continuing education before being eligible for their first renewal. The ten (10) credits are comprised of four (4) business credits and six (6) irrigation credits. All Board approved continuing education courses are listed on the Board website under the continuing education tab.

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