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Carpenter License Requirements by State: A Comprehensive Guide

Rachel Present Schreter | Sep 24, 2018

To be a successful carpenter and help your business grow, you need to make sure you are in compliance with all the laws regarding licensing in the state where you plan to work. If you have the right carpenter insurance, and the license you need, you’ll be able to focus on your work, keeping your clients happy and expanding your business.

There are only a few states that require a specific carpentry license; however, there are others that require carpenters to hold general contractor licenses if their work is worth above a certain amount. Because the license requirements can differ from state-to-state, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of carpenter license requirements across all 50 states. The list is in alphabetical order to make it easier for you to find the state you’re looking for. If you click on the state name, you’ll be directed to relevant government body for licensing. If there’s no link, it means there are no requirements. Good luck!

Alabama

As a carpenter, you will need a general contractors license or a subcontractors license to work on any projects worth $50,000 or more. Carpentry is a building construction specialty according to the Licensing Board for General Contractors. You must show proof of three years of experience, as well as the completion of three carpentry projects. You must hold a certificate of insurance and you will need to pass a trade exam, and a business and law exam to meet all carpenter license requirements.

Alaska

A carpenter falls under the classification of Specialty Contractor and requires a state license to work in Alaska. The license is issued by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. If you only perform work worth under $10,000 you will need a General Contractor – Handyman license. You will need a $10,000 surety bond and must show proof of general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance.

Arizona

Arizona requires you to have a contractor license to build, alter, repair, subtract from or improve any structure. The specialty residential contracting license, R-7 Carpentry, specifically licenses you to install and repair rough carpentry, finish carpentry, hardware, millwork, metal studs, metal doors or door frames, and windows. The R-60 specialty relates to finish carpentry, while the R-61 specialty allows carpenters to perform carpentry remodeling and repairs for projects worth $50,000 or less. These licenses are issued by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. You will need to pass a trade exam and show proof of a bond. For Carpentry R-7, you must show four years of experience and proof of the completion of seven new projects and eight maintenance projects. For Carpentry, Remodelling and Repairs R-61 , you must show proof of four years of experience and 15 maintenance projects.

Arkansas

As a carpenter, to work in Arkansas, you’ll need a Home Improvement Specialty license to cover carpentry, framing, millwork and cabinets. The State of Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board issues two types of licenses in this category – limited licenses that cover residential home improvement jobs worth less than $50,000 and unlimited licenses that cover residential jobs of any size. You must show proof of experience in carpentry, and you must show proof of worker’s compensation insurance.

California

A carpenter must hold a state license in California to do work on any projects worth $500 or more. You will need a Specialty C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor license or a C-6 Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor license. The license is issued by the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board. To meet the California carpenter license requirements, you will need to show four full years of experience in the last ten years, you must pass an exam, and you’ll need to have a $15,000 bond in place.

Colorado

There are no carpenter license requirements for the state of Colorado. As with other general contractors, there may be regulations at the state level which you need to check before you begin work.

Connecticut

As a carpenter who makes permanent changes to a residential property, you’ll be considered a home improvement contractor in Connecticut. You will not need to be licensed; however, you will need to be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection.

Delaware

Carpenters and general contractors are required to register in Delaware for revenue purposes only.

Florida

As a carpenter, you may be considered a contractor and may need a license to work in Florida, depending on the scope of the projects you do. According to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, a contractor in Florida is considered to be any person who constructs, repairs, alters, remodels, adds to, demolishes, subtracts from or improves any building or structure. If you do only miscellaneous non-structural work such as minor carpentry, door repairs, panelling, tile installation and window repair you won’t need a state license. State carpenter license requirements include passing a trade exam, as well as a business and finance exam.

Georgia

Those who perform jobs in rough carpentry or finish carpentry fall under the category of specialty trades in Georgia. These specialty trades do not require a state Residential and General Contractor license.

Hawaii

Carpenters in Hawaii are a specialty classification that falls under the banner of General Building Contractor. The C-5 specialty license covers cabinet, millwork, and carpentry remodelling and repairs. The C-6 specialty license covers carpentry framing. The licenses are issued by the State Licensing Board for Residential and General Contractors. You must pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You will need to have four years of experience in the past ten years and show proof of worker’s compensation insurance and general liability insurance.

Idaho

As a carpenter who works as a contractor in Idaho, you will need to be registered with the Idaho Contractors Board. There are no license requirements.

Illinois

You do not require a state license to work as a carpenter (or any general contractor) in Illinois. Make sure to check all local carpenter license requirements before starting work.

Indiana

Carpenters, and other general contractors, do not require a state license to work in Indiana. You must check all local regulations before you begin work.

Iowa

All contractors, including carpenters, who perform “construction” work on a residence that is not their own, and who earn more than $2,000 per year, must register with the Iowa Division of Labor. There is no state carpenter license requirement.

Kansas

As a carpenter, you don’t need a state license to work in Kansas. However, there may be license requirements on the local level so you need to check these before you begin work.

Kentucky

You won’t need a state license to work as a carpenter in Kentucky; however, there may be carpenter license requirements at the local level so make sure you check these before you start any work.

Louisiana

Carpenters may require a state license in Louisiana, depending on the scope of the work being done. Home improvement projects, worth between $7,500 and $75,000 do not require a license, but do require registration with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. You’ll need to hold general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. A residential license covers projects where the labor and material is worth more than $75,000 or residential framing where the labor and materials are worth more than $7,500. A commercial license covers projects worth more than $50,000 and covers the building construction subclassification of carpentry. No trade exam is required unless you apply for the Commercial Specialty Classification 7-156 Carpentry. You’ll also need to pass a business and law exam.

Maine

Carpenters do not need a state license to work in Maine. However, home construction and home improvement projects worth more than $3,000 require a written contract. Make sure to check for any local carpenter licensing requirements before you begin work.

Maryland

Carpenters in Maryland must be licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission to do any home improvement work, defined as “alteration, remodeling, repair or replacement of a building or part of a building used as a residence.” It also includes improvements and modernizations. You’ll need to show proof of at least two years of experience, proof of financial solvency, and proof of current liability insurance. You’ll need to pass a trade exam, along with a business and law component.

Massachusetts

A carpenter only needs a Home Improvement Contractor Registration to do projects that are considered ordinary repairs on a property, such as repairing an existing deck. You won’t need to take an exam for your registration. However, if you plan to perform structural work on a property, such as building a new deck or renovating a kitchen, you’ll need a Construction Supervisor License, awarded by the Office of Public Safety and Inspections. There are specific licenses to cover the scope of work you plan perform with restricted licenses covering one- to two-family dwellings. You’ll need to show proof of three years of experience. You must pass an exam to be licensed.

Michigan

As a carpenter in Michigan, you’ll need a Maintenance and Alterations Contractor license from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. You’ll need to complete 60 hours of approved pre-licensing education and you’ll need to pass an exam to be awarded the license.

Minnesota

Carpentry is considered a special skill area within the category of Residential Building Contractor. The special skill area of carpentry includes rough carpentry, finish carpentry, doors, windows and skylights, porches and decks, wood foundations, and drywall installation. If you earn less than $15,000 per annum and you provide only one special skill, you don’t need a state license. However, if you offer more than one specialty skill (such as interior finishing or exterior finishing), you’ll need a residential remodeler license (to work on existing structures) from the Department of Labor and Industry. To be licensed, you’ll need to show proof of liability insurance and pass an exam.

Mississippi

A carpenter is considered a remodeler in Mississippi and requires a Residential Remodeling License to do any work that is considered improvements to an existing structure, when the cost of the improvements is more than $10,000. The license is awarded by the Mississippi State Board of Contractors. You will need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam. You’ll need to show proof of general liability insurance.

Missouri

Carpenters in Missouri do not need a state license to work. However, there may be local Missouri carpenter license requirements, and you need to check these before you begin any projects.

Montana

A carpenter is considered a construction contractor in Montana and is defined as anyone who “adds or takes away from a structure, project, development or improvement attached to real estate.” There are no carpenter license requirements, but if you have employees, you’ll need to register with the Department of Labor and Industry. You must have valid insurance.

Nebraska

As a carpenter, you don’t need a state license to work in Nebraska; however, as a subcontractor who may perform construction, alterations, renovations, additions, repairs or installations, you will need to register with the Nebraska Department of Labor.

Nevada

Carpenters must hold a state Contractor License to work in Nevada. Carpentry, maintenance and minor repairs is a C-3 subclassification which includes carpentry and repairs (C-3a), finish carpentry (C-3b), insulation and weather stripping (C-3c), overhead doors (C-3d), and drywall (C-3e). There are exceptions when the work to the property is worth less than $1,000. You’ll need to show proof of four years of experience, but up to three years of education at an accredited college can satisfy years of experience. You must show proof of worker’s compensation insurance and will need to show proof of a bond. To meet all carpenter license requirements, you must pass the trade exam, as well as the business and law exam.

New Hampshire

As a carpenter, you won’t need a state license to work in New Hampshire. Make sure to check local regulations and carpenter license requirements before you begin work.

New Jersey

Carpenters in New Jersey fall are classified as home improvement contractors, who remodel, alter, paint, repair, renovate, restore, move, demolish or modernize a structure. This includes the construction, improvement or repair of patios, fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, and more. All home improvement contractors must register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. There is no state license, but may be local licensing requirements.

New Mexico

As a carpenter, you may fall under the category of general contractor which would need a state license to work in New Mexico. You’ll need to check the specific classification of license you’ll need depending on the work you do. This may include GB-2 Residential or GB-98 General Building. You’ll need to show proof of experience (two to four years, depending on the classification) and you’ll need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

New York

New York state does not require carpenters to hold a state license in order to work. However, there are local carpenter license requirements and you must check these with the local governments before you begin work.

North Carolina

As a carpenter, you’ll fall under the label of general contractor or specialty contractor, and will require a state license to work in North Carolina if your work totals $30,000 or more. A residential contractor does work in the construction of residential units. A specialty contractor includes interior construction, such as flooring and finishing, window and door installation, cabinets, and more. You must pass an exam to be awarded the license from the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors.

North Dakota

As a carpenter, you’ll be considered a contractor in North Dakota and will require a state license for any work worth more than $4,000. A contractor includes anyone who constructs, repairs, alters or dismantles buildings or any other structure, as well as the improvement of real or personal property. There are four classes of license, depending on the scope of the work you plan to do. The license is awarded by the Secretary of State. You’ll need to show proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance.

Ohio

Carpenters do not need a state license to work in Ohio. However, you must check local carpenter license requirements before you begin work.

Oklahoma

You won’t need a state license to work as a carpenter in Oklahoma. Be aware that there may be requirements on the local level and you should check these before you begin any work.

Oregon

As a carpenter, you’ll need a construction contractor license from the Oregon Construction Contractors Board before you can work in the state. Carpentry is listed as a profession that involves improvements to real estate and which requires a license. You can apply for a residential license, commercial license or residential and commercial dual license. You’ll need to provide proof of general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. You also need to undertake pre-license training and pass a test.

Pennsylvania

There is no licensing requirement for carpenters in Pennsylvania; however, any contractors who do at least $5,000 worth of home improvement work per year, must register with the Attorney General’s Office.

Rhode Island

There is no state licensing requirement for carpenters in the State of Rhode Island. However, as someone who may do commercial construction, home construction, alterations, remodeling or repairs to properties, you must register with the Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board. You must complete five hours of pre-education courses and must show proof of liability insurance.

South Carolina

The South Carolina Residential Builders Commission does not require a carpenter to be licensed by the state; however, as a carpenter, you’ll need to register with the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

South Dakota

As a carpenter, you won’t need a state license to work in South Dakota; however, there are carpenter license requirements on the local level so make sure to check these before you begin to work.

Tennessee

A carpenter in Tennessee requires a home improvement license for any remodeling work on existing residential homes that are worth between $3,000 and $24,999. This includes repairs, replacements, remodeling, alterations, conversions, modernizations, improvements or additions to any land or building. You must show proof of insurance, proof of experience, and a surety bond. This license applies to counties that have adopted the law, including Bradley, Davidson, Hamilton, Haywood, Knox, Marion, Robertson, Rutherford, and Shelby counties. Jobs worth more than $25,000 require a contractor license and will require proof of insurance. You’ll also need to pass a trade exam, as well as a business and law exam.

Texas

As a carpenter, you won’t need a state license to work in Texas; however, there may be local Texas carpenter license requirements so make sure to check with your city/county before you begin work.

Utah

As a carpenter in Utah you’ll fall under the trade classification S220 Carpentry Contractor and will need a state license to work. The contractor license is awarded by Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing. You’ll need to show two years of experience in the past ten years, as well as proof of worker’s compensation insurance and general liability insurance. You will be exempt from needing a license if the work you do values less than $3,000.

Vermont

You do not need a state license to work as a carpenter in Vermont; however, you must check the requirements with local governments before you begin work.

Virginia

As a carpenter in Virginia, you’ll fall under the Residential Building Contractor classification which includes Home Improvement Contracting. There are three classes of licenses – A, B or C – depending on the value of the projects you plan to work on. Class A licenses are restricted to individual projects worth up to $10,000 and up to $150,000 per year. You must show two years of experience. Class B licenses are limited to individual projects of up to $120,000 and up to $750,000 per year. You must show three years of experience. Class C licenses are unlimited. You must show five years of experience. You’ll need to complete a pre-license education course approved by the Board of Contractors and you must pass an exam.

Washington

Carpenters are considered specialty contractors in Washington, falling either under the category of “cabinets, millwork and finish carpentry,” or “framing and rough carpentry.” There are no state carpenter license requirements, but specialty contractors must register with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. You’ll need to show proof of a $6,000 surety bond and general liability insurance.

West Virginia

As a carpenter you’ll need to hold a state license to work in West Virginia on any projects worth more than $2,500. Finish carpentry (058) is considered an untested specialty, which requires a business and law exam only. The license is awarded by the WV Division of Labor.

Wisconsin

As a carpenter, you’ll need a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license to work in Wisconsin. This covers construction on residential, commercial or public works projects, including alterations and improvements, worth more than $1,000. You’ll need to complete an approved 12-hour pre-licensure course and pass a test. You must show proof of financial responsibility and proof of general liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. The license is awarded by the Department of Safety and Professional Services.

Wyoming

Carpenters do not need a state license to work in Wyoming; however, there may be local carpenter license requirements so make sure to check these before you begin work.

This information is provided as a service. To the best of our knowledge, it is correct and up-to-date; however, it is not expected to be taken as legal advice and you must always check the requirements on both a state level and a local government level before you start any work.

Authors

  • Sofya PogrebSofya Pogreb
  • Sanjay BiswasSanjay Biswas
  • Natalie CutlerNatalie Cutler
  • Guy GoldsteinGuy Goldstein
  • Rachel Present SchreterRachel Present Schreter
  • Alon HuriAlon Huri
  • Evyatar SagieEvyatar Sagie
  • Zeke ScherlZeke Scherl
  • Annie RyanAnnie Ryan
Rachel Present Schreter
Rachel Present Schreter | Author
Rachel is passionate about helping small businesses get the tools they need to succeed. Rachel is a marketing guru with years of experience working with tech companies, non-profits and small businesses to ensure that they are reaching the right audiences with their products.

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