If you’d like to perform certain types of work when creating a carpentry business, you may need to first obtain a carpentry license. Keep in mind, however, that not every state requires carpentry contractors to seek a license before they’re allowed to offer carpentry services. When you’re thinking about applying for a carpentry license, your first goal should be to learn all there is to know about the carpentry license and how you can earn one.
What Is a Carpentry License
A carpentry license is a certification available in some states that shows proficiency in the field of carpentry. Not every state asks professionals in this trade to apply for a carpentry license before performing this work. In some states, the tasks a carpenter performs fall under the purview of a general contractor, which means that you would need to apply for a general contractor license in your state.
Six states view carpentry as a more specialized profession that’s similar to that of electricians or plumbers. The same kind of license is necessary for professionals who want to perform roofing or HVAC services. These states are:
Keep in mind that there are also a small number of states that don’t require any type of license for people who want to perform carpentry work.
Why Do You Need It?
If you currently live in a state that requires a carpentry license, you won’t be able to operate as a carpenter without first obtaining one. Depending on the services you provide, you might need to apply for a general contractor license alongside your carpentry license.
A general contractor’s license isn’t necessary for relatively minor carpentry work. On the other hand, adding a fence to a property or building a deck will typically require you to seek a carpentry or general contractor license. In the six states that require professionals who perform carpentry work to have a carpentry license, you must meet certain requirements before your contractor license application will be approved.
The total amount of work experience you need to have in the industry can be anywhere from two to four years. You’ll also need to pass a business exam alongside a carpentry trade exam. All six states require this type of license to be paired with a surety bond and liability insurance. Before you purchase the license bond and insurance policy, you should know that the amount of coverage you need to obtain can differ from state to state.
How Much Does It Cost to Obtain a Carpentry License?
If you’d like to apply for a carpentry license, you must pay an application fee as well as certain test fees. These costs can differ from state to state.
For instance, the license fee in Hawaii is around $50, and the examination fee is $130.
The costs in California are considerably higher, with an application fee of $300 and an examination fee of $180.
Don’t Forget to Apply For a Surety Bond as Well
As previously noted, most states require you to apply for a surety bond alongside your license application. These bonds are a type of agreement between the state and your business that ensures your services will comply with state regulations. Bond costs can be over $10,000 depending on where you live. In most cases, a bond is purchased by paying a percentage of the coverage you receive.
Keep in mind that these bonds don’t insure you and your business against liabilities, which is why you might also need to apply for liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance before you can start a carpentry business.
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Eligibility for Obtaining a Carpentry License
Before you apply for a carpentry license, take some time to learn about the various eligibility requirements that you’ll need to meet before your license application will be approved. These contractor license requirements involve everything from demographics to experience requirements.
As is the case with most forms of licensure, applicants must be at least 18 years old to apply for this type of license.
The experience requirements differ depending on where you live.
If your carpentry business is located in Alabama, you must have performed three full projects and have three years of total experience in the carpentry industry. If you don’t have this experience, your application will be denied. Consider obtaining a job as a journeyman carpenter to gain the experience you need for this career.
In Arizona, you need to have four or more years of experience in the carpentry industry. State exams must also be passed before you’re allowed to earn a carpentry license. As for California, carpentry contractors need to have four or more years of experience and pass two separate examinations.
In Hawaii, you need four years of experience. This experience must be obtained in the 10 years immediately before you submit your application. If you would like to be a carpenter in Nevada, the experience requirements are the same as in Hawaii.
Your four or more years of experience must be obtained in the 10 years immediately before your application has been submitted. If you haven’t earned industry experience in 20 years, you’ll need to earn a full four years of experience before your application will be granted.
In Utah, the experience requirements are slightly less strict. To earn your carpentry license, you’ll need to have two years of paid employment within the construction industry.
Keep in mind that this employment must be full-time in each of these states for it to count toward the work experience you need to obtain your carpentry license.
During most steps of the application process, the status of your credit score won’t be important. However, your credit score does come into play when applying for a surety bond, which is a requirement in all six states that offer carpentry licenses. To earn this type of contractor bond at a good price, you need to have a great credit score, ample amounts of experience, high working capital, and a strong moral character.
Keep in mind that these factors aren’t specific requirements that must be met before receiving a surety bond. However, they do give you the opportunity to obtain the lowest rates when purchasing a surety bond, which will lower your total costs. When looking specifically at credit score requirements, people who have a credit score of at least 700 will usually receive low rates for their surety bonds. If your credit score is currently lower than 700, consider paying off some debts to increase your score.
Step-by-Step Process of Getting a License
Before you can earn your carpentry license, there are four steps you’ll need to complete. They include everything from buying liability insurance to clearing any exams at the state level.
Get the Liability Insurance
The first step in the application process is to purchase general liability insurance, which is a requirement in every state that offers a carpentry license. The amount of liability insurance that you purchase depends on the state that you work in.
When seeking a certificate of insurance in Hawaii, the minimum amount of liability insurance that you need to have is $100,000 for everyone who works there and $300,000 for every instance of bodily injury. Make sure that the insurance plan also includes $50,000 for each instance of property damage. Utah has the same requirements when it comes to general liability insurance.
Clear the State Exams
Once you’ve met the previous contractor license requirements, you must pass a licensing exam that tests your knowledge of safety protocols and common carpentry procedures. In most cases, the exam format is comprised of multiple-choice questions that focus on situational awareness and basic theory on the subject of carpentry. You can get in touch with the contractors’ state license board to obtain more specific information and details about what the exam entails and how you can successfully complete it.
Keep in mind that many states will require applicants to pass two separate exams before they are deemed eligible for this type of license. For instance, Nevada asks applicants to pass an exam that’s specific to the carpentry trade and another exam that centers on general business and law. Once you’ve passed these exams, you should be able to complete your licensing application.
Complete and Submit the Contractor License Application
Now that you’ve purchased general liability insurance and have taken the necessary exams, you should be able to submit your contractor license application without issue. As mentioned before, some states will require you to have a surety bond, which is designed to protect consumers in the state where you work. The amount of the surety bond depends largely on the guidelines in each individual state.
In Nevada, the bond amount that you must purchase can be anywhere from $1,000 to $500,000 depending on your current professional and financial responsibility as well as the size of your operation. If you’re going to work in Arizona, every contractor needs to be bonded. The amount of your bond depends on the type of carpentry license you obtain.
For residential specialty contractors, the bonded amount is anywhere from $4,250 to $7,500 depending on the cost of the projects you work on. If you’re working as a commercial specialty contractor, the bond amount can be anywhere from $2,500 to $50,000 for projects of $150,000 to $10 million.
Once you’ve purchased a surety bond, your application should be submitted. As long as you provide the necessary documents and have met all of the eligibility requirements, it’s likely that your application will be approved in a matter of weeks.
Periodically Renew Your License
Each state requires all professionals who’ve obtained a carpentry license to periodically renew this license. Your carpentry license needs to be renewed every two years. The fees that must be paid alongside the renewal application can be anywhere from $113 to $600 depending on the state you live in. At $600, license renewal in Nevada is the most expensive.
Now that you know what it takes to get a carpentry license, you should have everything you need to start a career in this field.