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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, and pass the North Carolina Irrigation Contractors’ Licensing Exam. This exam is prepared by the Irrigation Association (“IA”) and is also administered by the IA for the Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) program. The exam consists of 160 equally weighted multiple choice questions on irrigation design, irrigation installation, irrigation scheduling, water management and conservation, maintenance and repair, federal laws and codes, general business management and NC State Laws. Candidates have three and a half hours to complete the exam.

Application Instructions
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

Scoring: A passing score to earn the NC Irrigation Contractors’ license is 64%.  The score required by the Irrigation Association to obtain CIC designation is typically between 68% and 72%, so although 64% is passing in order to obtain your North Carolina Irrigation License, you would be required to retake the exam and meet the Irrigation Association requirements in order to receive the Irrigation Association CIC designation (this is not required).   Results from the exam are normally received in three (3) to four (4) weeks.  Candidates are provided a sheet showing the number of correct responses in each domain and whether or not you have passed that domain along with the total score.  There are seven domains which are described above in the Exam Content Outline.  If you do not pass the entire exam on the first try you will have the opportunity to retake only the domains that you failed.  The total score from those sections you previously passed and those sections you have retaken are combined for your final score.  A total score of 64% or more is passing.  If you score below 64% you may again take only those section you have failed. 

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 $335.00.  Candidates that fail any portion of the exam may retake those portions at a cost $235.00.  The cost of a retake remains the same whether you are retaking one domain or the entire exam.  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 quarterly and are located 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, 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
1. Landscape Irrigation Contractor, 3rd Edition
2. Principles of Irrigation, 3rd Edition
3. Irrigation, 6th Edition

Free Downloads:

Licensing Practice Exam
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:

  • 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 criteria for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for that calendar year.

If the candidate does not fit into the criteria above then the individual is required to obtain ten (10) credits of continuing education. Included in those 10 credits are four (4) business credits and six (6) credits of landscape irrigation. All Board approved continuing education courses are listed on the Board website under the continuing education tab.




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