Wisconsin Contractor Licenses

If you go through the different requirements of construction work state by state, you’ll find that the state of Wisconsin is a little strict in regards to their contractors licenses. Most of the states do not have strict licensing requirement, whereas the state of Wisconsin requires a contractor’s license if and when the total job cost is more than $1,000. Other states will require a license when construction jobs costs more than $50,000, including but not limited to building alterations, demolitions, repairs and maintenance.

Do note that the state of Wisconsin does not give out a single license that would support multiple constructional works or trades. Each contractor will be required to obtain a license that are job-specific to their own professions.

To check if your profession is available for state licensing, you can proceed to the state’s official site that can be found here.

If your profession is not available on the list, you might want to reach out to your local government for more information. They often have the answer in regards to a contractor’s license that aren’t available in a state-regulated licenses.

How To Get Your Contractor’s License in Wisconsin

Similar to other states, Wisconsin does not provide a general contractor license, but instead issue one for the different classes of licenses listed below among many others.

Dwelling Contractor Qualifier License

If you plan on working as an individual contractor in the state of Wisconsin, you will need a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier License. In order to acquire this license, you will have to provide a certification that states you have completed a full 12-hour approved initial qualifier course. In addition, you will be asked to pay an application fee of $15 and a credential fee of $30. It is a 2-year long term starting from the date it was issued.

More information can be found on the state government’s official page here. (https://dsps.wi.gov/Credentialing/Trades/fm3097.pdf)

You can click here to get started on your initial qualifier course. It is just but one of the many state-approved online training sites. Do note that there is a fee of around $90 to $100 for such courses.

  • Dwelling Contractor License

You will need both Dwelling Contractor Qualifier License and Dwelling Contractor License if and when you need building permits for your construction works. Similar to Dwelling Contractor Qualifier License, you will be required of a 12-hour course. You will also be asked of an application fee of $15 and a credential fee of $25.

More information can be found on the state government’s official page here. (https://dsps.wi.gov/Credentialing/Trades/fm3096.pdf)

Electrical Contractor License

Similar to most states, the state of Wisconsin carries a strict rule regarding electrical contractor licenses before engaging in a business related to the profession. Before you can acquire a license, you will have to be either the head of the electrical company, the chairman of the board or CEO representing the company, or a partner applying on behalf of a partnership.

In addition, you must comply with the worker’s compensation and unemployment compensation requirements.

Worker’s compensation can be found on this page, and unemployment compensation can be found on this page.

If you are unsure of the said compensation requirements, you can check for more details with the Department of Workforce Development at http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wc/. Or better yet, you can contact them and ask your questions directly by calling (608) 266 – 1340.

The application form and requirement can be found on the state government’s official page here. (https://dsps.wi.gov/Credentialing/Trades/fm3103.pdf)

  • Electrician, Journeyman

Before an individual can apply for a Journeyman Electrician license, he or she must have undergone apprenticeship. Like most states, there are strict regulations before one can hold the title of apprentice. Applying for apprenticeship will require an application fee of $15 and a credential fee of $15 for a 1-year long term starting from the date of issuance. More information can be found here.

In special circumstances, a fully experienced electrician can apply for the title of journeyman when and if during the period of at least 4 years, the individual has garnered at least 8,000 hours of experience. Or in some cases, at least 1,000 hours of experience a year for at least 5 years.

You will also be required to pay an application fee of $35, and an examination fee of $30. If all goes well and you’ve passed the examination, you will then again have to pay an additional $100 for a prorated credential fee. This is a 4-year long term starting from the 30th of June.

The examination will cover all information contained in the Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 305, Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 316 and the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC). It is an open book exam where 70% is the passing rate.

  • Electrician, Master

Before an individual can apply for a Master Electrician license, he or she must have undergone the process of becoming a journeyman in his or her own field. In addition, there must be at least 12 months (1 year) of experience as a Journeyman Electrician.

Another acceptable requirement for the Master Electrician license examination would be an Electrical Engineering Degree. A Bachelor’s or Masters degree are both acceptable as long as it’s from an accredited engineering college or university.

Note: You will be required to attach your transcripts.

If you are an experienced electrician, there are special cases in which you can apply even without having to comply with the other criteria two mentioned above. You must have experience in repairing, installing, and maintaining electrical wiring for over 6 years. During that time, you must have put in 10,000 hours of work or at least 1,000 hours of experience a year for at least 7 years.

Note: Experience gained from accredited schools or colleges can count a full semester as 500 hours of work experience.

More information about requirements can be found here. (https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/Professions/MasterElectrician/Default.aspx)

Once the requirements are met, you will be asked to pay an application fee of $35 and an examination fee of $30. If and when the examination goes well, you will then be again asked to pay an additional fee of $200 for your prorated credential. Similar to being a journeyman, it will be a 4-year long term starting from the 30th of June.

The examination will cover all information contained in the Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 305, Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 316 and the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC). It is an open book exam where 70% is the passing rate.

Plumbing

  • Plumbing, Journeyman License

You should know that an individual cannot or should not engage in any plumbing work in the state of Wisconsin unless you are licensed to do so. And even with a journeyman license, you will still have to work under the supervision of a master plumber.

To apply for your journeyman plumbing license, you will be required to comply from at least one of the three following methods:

  • Apprenticeship and Examination

You will be required to pay an application fee of $10 and an exam fee of $20. There will be an additional fee of $180 for your prorated credential once you’ve passed the examination. The license will be based on a 4-year long term starting from 31st of March.

You will also have to have undergone plumbing apprenticeship, which is elaborately explained on this page.

  • Exchanging your Master Plumber License to a Journeyman Plumber license

If for any reasons you want a journeyman plumber license instead of a master plumber license, you can do so by attaching your master plumber license to your application.

In addition, you will be asked to pay a sum of $180 for your prorated credential fee. The license is a 4-year term that starts on the 31st of March.

  • Comity and Examination

Similar to the first method, you will be asked of an application fee of $10 and an examination fee of $20. Another $180 for when you successfully passed the examination.

You will need to have also undergone an out-of-state plumbing apprenticeship on a 5-year program. That would include 576 hours of experience that should be recognized under Wis. Stats. § 106.

For a more detailed information, you can go to the state government’s official site here.

There will be a 2-part examination, to which are both an open book exam. The considered passing rate is at 70%. It will cover all information contained in Wis. Stats. § 145, Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 305, Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 382-387 and the 2002 NFPA 13D of the National Fire Protection Association.

IMPORTANT: You will need manuals for the various Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (POWTS) in Wisconsin. You can purchase them at their own site here or you can download them from here. For more information, you can call them at (608) 243-2441 or at (800) 362 – 7253.

You should also check the product names and other helpful materials that are listed here.

  • Plumbing, Master License

To acquire a plumbing master license in Wisconsin, you will need to at least comply with one of the following methods:

  • Experience/Degree and Examination

This is the regular process or method that requires you to pay an application fee of $20 and an examination fee of $30. When you pass the exam, you will then have to pay an additional $400 fee for your prorated credential fee. This is based on a 4-year term that starts on the 31st of March.

When required fees have been paid, you should have at least 1,000 hours of experience with you as a journeyman plumber in Wisconsin for each year in at least 3 years. In other circumstances, you can instead provide a transcript of your Civil Engineering Degree from an accredited college or university.

  • Exchanging your Journeyman Plumber License back to a Master Plumber License

When you have previously owned a Master Plumber License that you exchanged for a Journeyman Plumber License, you can revert it back to a Master Plumber License. Of course, you will then again have to pay the prorated credential fee of $500 that will start on the 31st of March.

  • Comity and Examination

This is the method to go for when you have an out-of-state journeyman plumbing experience, together with an apprenticeship in plumbing. You should have undergone a 5-year program that complies with the that complies to the Wis. Stats. § 106 for a minimum of 576 hours. You will also be required to provide a record that you have had 1,000 hours of plumbing experience every year for at least 3 years.

If not, you can also apply for the Wisconsin State Master Plumbing License if you have at least 8 years of experience to which have garnered 1,000 hours on each year as recognized by other states, cities, or towns.

You will have to pass an open book exam to which 70% is the passing rate. It will cover the information contained in the Wis. Stats. § 145, Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 305, Wis. Admin. Code § SPS 382-387 and the 2002 NFPA 13D of the National Fire Protection Association.

Helpful, purchasable materials can be found here.

HVAC Contractor License

The state of Wisconsin requires an HVAC contractor license from any person or entity that plans on engaging in the installation of heaters, ventilation or air conditioners. This includes repairs and maintenance.

To apply for an HVAC contractor license, you will need to pay an application fee of $15 and a credential fee of $160. This is a 4-year long term that starts from the date of issuance. Also, the applicant must be the owner, a partner, or the CEO representing the contracting corporation.

More information can be found here. (https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/Professions/HVACContractor/Default.aspx)

Roofing Contractor License

Rather than having a roofing contractor license, the state of Wisconsin issues a certification instead. Aside from issuing roofing worker and roofing supervisor certifications, you can also inquire for worker, project designer, inspector, management planner, and supervisor certifications.

You will be required to complete a training before you can apply for a certification. You can receive your training from these approved training programs in the state of Wisconsin. You can either apply for an individual certification or a company certification.

NOTE: You should also check your local government for any required certifications or licenses that may be relevant with roofing.

Asbestos Abatement Certification

Asbestos is a well-known ingredient in some of the most used building products. It is an ingredient that strengthens the structure and even provide heat insulation. However, since exposure to Asbestos has been known to cause harmful effects on a person, a certification is required to work with such ingredient.

Here are is list of disciplines to which are allowed be issued with certifications.

  • Asbestos Supervisor

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 5-day asbestos supervisor initial course.

Fees: A certification fee of $125.

  • Asbestos Worker

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 4-day asbestos worker initial course.

Fees: A certification fee of $75.

  • Asbestor Management Planner

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 3-day asbestos inspector initial course and a 2-day asbestos management planner initial course.

Fees: A certification fee of $125.

    • Asbestos Inspector

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 3-day asbestos inspector initial course.

Fees: A certification fee of $175.

  • Asbestos Project Designer

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 3-day asbestos project designer initial course.

Fees: A certification fee of $175.

  • Exterior Asbestos Supervisor

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 1-day exterior asbestos worker course and 1-day exterior asbestos supervisor course.

Fees: A certification fee of $75.

  • Exterior Asbestos Worker

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: A minimum of 1-day asbestos worker course.

Fees: A certification fee of $125.

All disciplines should also have their Social Security Number or if not applicable, a signed form stating the applicant does not have one.

You can find the department-accredited schools or training establishments here.

You can apply for a certification online here.

You can find all the information you need here.

NOTE: Other additional fees may apply and you can find them here.

Lead Abatement Certification

As with asbestos, lead is an element that contributes to the betterment of structural buildings. But with potential hazard that comes with it, contractors are required to acquire a certification if and when materials used in construction work contains the said ingredient.

Here are is list of individual disciplines to which are allowed be issued with certifications.

  • Lead Abatement Worker

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must be associated with a lead-safe company through employment, ownership or contract.

Initial Training: A minimum of 1-day lead-safe renovation course together with a 1-day lead abatement work course.

Fees: A certification fee of $75

  • Lead Abatement Supervisor

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have 1-year experience as a lead abatement supervisor or as a certified lead worker. A 2-year experience in related field can also be considered as eligible.

Initial Training: A minimum of 1-day lead-safe renovation course together with a 1-day lead abatement work course. An additional 2-day lead abatement supervision course will also be required.

Fees: A certification fee of $125

  • Lead Project Designer

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must hold a bachelor’s degree in a profession related to building construction such as Engineering and architecture. If not applicable, a 4-year experience in construction building is also acceptable.

Initial Training: Must complete the Lead abatement supervisor training, together with a 1-day lead project designer course.

Fees: A certification fee of $125

  • Lead Sampling Technician

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have attended the complete course and passing examinations from department-accredited schools or training establishments.

Initial Training: Must undergo a 1-day lead sampling course.

Fees: A certification fee of $50.

  • Lead Inspector

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must have XRF manufacturer’s training that can be found here.

Initial Training: Must undergo a 1-day lead sampling course, together with initial 2-day lead inspection course.

Fees: A certification fee of $150.

  • Lead Hazard Investigator

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must meet one of the following requirements: A bachelor’s degree and a year experience in a related field; Associate’s degree and a 2-year experience in a related field; Highschool diploma with a 3-year experience in a related field; holds a professional certification concerning health safety such as industrial hygienist, professional engineer, architect, or environmental scientist; Registered sanitarian or registered nurse employed under a health department.

Initial Training: Must undergo a 1-day lead sampling course, together with initial 2-day lead inspection course.

Fees: A certification fee of $150.

  • Lead Risk Assessor

Age requirement: 18 years or older

Eligibility Requirement: Must meet one of the following requirements: A bachelor’s degree and a year experience in a related field; Associate’s degree and a 2-year experience in a related field; Highschool diploma with a 3-year experience in a related field; holds a professional certification concerning health safety such as industrial hygienist, professional engineer, architect, or environmental scientist; Registered sanitarian or registered nurse employed under a health department.

Initial Training: Must undergo a 1-day lead sampling course, initial 2-day lead inspection course, and an initial 2-day lead hazard investigation course.

Fees: A certification fee of $175.

Department-accredited schools or training establishments can be found here.

To apply for an initial application, you can download the form here.

For a more detailed information regarding Lead Abatement Certification, you can find it here.

NOTE: Other additional fees may apply and you can find them here.

The Application Process for a contractor license

Applications require time, and so it is highly advised that you plan ahead in taking these steps. There are several factors involved, and these includes your credentials, experience in the field, transcripts, and other supporting documents. For more information about your profession and requirements, you can go to the state’s official site here. Application forms should be found on the page of your profession. Complete requirements and be ready to pay the fees that are asked of you. Applying with incomplete records and/or documents will most likely cause delays and probably even additional fees.

  1. The overall timeframe of getting your license/permit will vary, depending on the workload and required documents. On average, it takes about 2 to 3 months.
  1. Once your application reaches the Fiscal Department, the payment will now be processed and will count as the first official business day for the processing time.
  1. Your application will then be reviewed and will be encoded on the database which takes about 7 to 15 business days. You will receive an email notifying you of your application ID number and a link to where you can view the status of your application.
  1. It is now your responsibility to look up your application status on the link provided. A pending status will show a red color, and a completed requirement will show in green.
  1. Any convictions or malpractices will further be reviewed and may be forwarded to a paralegal and/or board liaison. Depending on the result, you may be required to appear before the board.
  1. When you have successfully passed all the requirements with no issues, the application process is now complete. You should receive an email notifying you that you have been granted a license, together with an instruction on how to receive them and print them from an online source. This is because the DSPS does not provide hard copy of the license.

NOTE: If you haven’t received any details regarding your application for a duration of 1 year, there is a big chance it might have been withdrawn. You will have to re-apply and pay the required fees all over again. For a more detailed information, you can direct your questions to their main office at 4822 Madison Yards Way, Madison, WI 53705. Or you can call them directly at (608) 233 – 2112 or (877) 617 – 1565.

The Examination Process for a contractor license

Before taking the examination, you might want to know a couple of things before you proceed to the designated sites on certain dates.

  1. Once your application has been approved and all requirements have been met, you can now schedule your examination, one credential type at a time. Examinations for multiple credentials will not be accepted and fees paid will be non-refundable.
  1. If your request for examination is approved, you will receive a confirmation letter, containing your scheduled exam and other necessary information.
  1. Before going to exam site, you will need to bring with you a photo ID, pencils (number 2), reference materials (Reminder: that this is an open book exam), and a calculator. Cellphone calculators and programmable calculators are not allowed.
  1. You can arrive at your exam site 30 minutes early so you can have your ID signed Honesty Agreement ready for registration. A proctor will provide you the details of the examination including the rules and time requirements. Like most exams do, there should be a 15-minute warning before the examination ends.
  1. You might want to know, smartphones, iWatches, and other internet based digital devices are not permitted in the exam room.
  1. The results of your exam will be mailed to you within 21 calendar days starting from the date of your exam.
  1. For information regarding your contractor credential exam dates and locations, you can find them here. (https://dsps.wi.gov/Pages/Professions/TradesExaminationInformation.aspx)

NOTE: For special accommodations with legitimate reasons, you can contact the state government by emailing them at [email protected].

The Advantages of Having a Contractors License

Having a department issued license is crucial to a contractor. This gives them a lot of advantages over someone who hasn’t acquired a license in their field of profession.

  • Higher chances of getting hired. A contractor’s license gives you the credibility that most homeowners or business owners are looking for. It’s an unspoken trust that you as a contractor have the experience successfully fulfill the job asked of you.
  • Higher pay. Having gone through the process of having a contractor’s license, you are entitled to ask for higher pay than non-license holders.
  • Compliance with the State Law of contractors licenses. Aside from having the privilege to work on higher paying projects, you will also be working in accordance to the state government’s regulation.

The Importance of Hiring a Contractor with a License

As a homeowner, there are legitimate reasons why you should hire a licensed contractor. Even with the minimum required cost of $1,000 to perform contractual works in the state of Wisconsin. These include public, residential, and commercial construction or alteration works. Note that the total cost is after materials, taxes, labor and other expenses.

  • Safety and Credibility

Hiring a licensed contractor to do home improvements or alteration will most likely mean quality work. They are known to have undergone thousand of hours of in their field of expertise or if not, have acquired a professional degree from accredited universities or colleges.

  • Guaranteed Completion

Contrary to popular belief, hiring a licensed contractor actually saves you money. We don’t deny that they do ask for a higher pay, but the quality work would save you more money in the long run. On top of that, you can issue a complaint to the company or individual if the project was not done accordingly to what you have agreed upon.

Many may not know this but unlicensed contractor can suddenly disappear and will not complete the contract. You will then be left with an unfinished project with less cash on your bank.

  • Insurance

A liability insurance will protect you and the licensed contractor from any property damage or personal body injuries.

  • City or Federal Government Compliance

Licensed contractors will have to comply with the requirements set by the government. These includes inspections, safety examinations and permits. A critical advantage when you plan on selling your home.

Should You Become Your Own General Contractor?

While most of the states, municipalities, towns and cities require a general contractor license before they can legally do construction work, there are no known requirements for homeowners. That being said, you are entitled to act as your own general contractor. Although, it still is wise to contact your local government about being a general contractor to your own home.

Being your own home GC surely have its benefits, but it does require a lot of work. First and foremost, you will most likely be saving yourself 20% to 30% of the total cost of the work. That said, you will have to work for it and that means having the knowledge and time to do it. And the worst part of it is, if it wasn’t done the way you planned it, you can’t complain to anyone but yourself.

So, if you’re doing if just for the curiosity of it, you might want to reconsider hiring a professional general contractor instead. If you’re doing it to save money, make sure you are in fact capable of doing the job. If you plan on being a general contractor yourself, read application requirements and fees here. If not, it doesn’t hurt to spend a little extra to hire general contractors that really know what they’re doing.

Contractor License Search and Lookup

If you already applied for a contractor license in the state of Wisconsin, you can check your credential status here.

If you’re a homeowner, there’s an easy way to check the license number of a contractor in Wisconsin by using this database lookup – check them here.

Contractors License Board

A contractor’s license board or council is a statewide code that protects both consumers and contractors with the minimum standard of most structural buildings. This includes fire safety, structural health, plumbing and electrical systems, and the general health and safety of the people that lives in the vicinity.

As of April 5, 2018, the contractor’s license council of Wisconsin has been removed from the department. The responsibility however has been transferred to a new department known as Uniform Dwelling Code Council.

You can reach them at:

DSPS

PO Box 8366

Madison, WI 53708 – 8366

(608) 266 – 2112

[email protected]

Renewal of Contractor’s License:

  • Requirements

For license renewals, you might want to check this table here. It is a list of fees and dates for a certain profession that are available for issuance in the state of Wisconsin.

  • Method

You will have to input your customer ID and credential name here. You will then have to follow any instructions listed and comply with any other requirements.

Contractors License Reciprocity

A contractor’s license reciprocity is a system that was established to where a licensee from their own home state can obtain a different license that will be recognized by a different state. It eliminates the hassle of going through the full process of licensing and would significantly reduces the time of applying.

Unfortunately, not all professions have license reciprocity. This includes the Dwelling Contractor Credential. On the bright side, Wisconsin has an electrical license reciprocal agreement with the states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

For other professions, you might want to check in on the profession requirements from this list. Or you can contact Wisconsin DSPS addressed at 4822 Madison Yards Way, Madison, WI 53705. You can email them at [email protected]. You can also call them at (608) 266 – 2112.

Contractor Licenses in Different Cities

Milwaukee

The city does issue contractor licenses. You can find out more about home improvement, salesperson, concrete contractors, electrical contractors, master plumbers, and landscaping licenses here.

City of Madison

The city of Madison accepts licenses and permit applications. Learn how to apply by registering at their official page here.

Green Bay

Green Bay offers licensing to services and trades that are listed here.

Kenosha

Apart from the state-issued contractor licenses, the city of Kenosha also offers licenses to a list of services and trades that can be found on their official site.

Racine

The City of Racine also has a set of licenses that needs to be met, aside from the government’s state-issued contractor’s license. All the information you need is right here.