How to Get a Wisconsin Contractor License


So you’ve decided to get going on your handyman business — now what? We’ve got the lowdown on Wisconsin contractor license requirements.

Does Wisconsin Require a Contractor License?

If you want to make money through your general contracting business, you’ll likely need a license to comply with Wisconsin contractor laws.

Much like your driving license, a business license holds everyone to the same standards of experience and knowledge. You wouldn’t send someone who’s never picked up a hammer to take on a major building project, would you? The state of Wisconsin certainly doesn’t want to, either, so there are experience and exam requirements in place.

In many cases, general liability insurance is another requirement to obtain your contractor license. By having general liability insurance, you won’t be stripped of everything you own to pay for property damage or bodily injury. Accidents can happen, but they don’t have to drain your personal bank account.

Does a Handyman Need a Wisconsin Contractor License?

Yes, you’ll need a license to work as a handyman in the Badger state. Read on to learn what’s required and how to apply for it.

Applying for a WI Contractor’s License?

You may need to show proof of business insurance to get your license.

That’s where we come in. Compare insurance quotes today.

How do I Get my Wisconsin General Contractor License?

If the thought of jumping through government hoops to finally start your handyman business seems daunting, we understand. We don’t know anyone who fills out applications for fun. However, the Wisconsin contractor license application process is much easier to manage when you take it one step at a time.

How Much is a Wisconsin Contractor License?

There are application fees, renewal fees, as well as the cost of training courses. We break them out in the following sections.

1. Check specialty license requirements or applications.

The steps in this guide are focused on getting a Wisconsin contractor license, but we need to take a quick detour. If you plan on working on specialty projects, even just sometimes, you may have different license requirements.

Wisconsin contractor license lookup: The specialty contractor licenses in the state are:

The steps in the licensing procedure are mainly the same between general and specialty contractors, but exams may vary. If you’re unsure which license you should apply for, reach out to the State of Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services at 608-266-2112.

2. Take an approved Wisconsin contractor qualifier course.

The Wisconsin contractor licensing course is similar to a video game. There are different levels and paths you can choose to follow. The first step in your quest is to take an approved qualifier course. Wisconsin requires all of its contractors to know their stuff, so you need to take 12 hours’ worth of classes from one of these course providers. Once you’ve earned your 12 class hours, you have a year to move on to the next step.

3. Apply for a qualifier certificate.

Before you can apply for your official general contractor license in Wisconsin, you need a qualifier certificate, sometimes referred to as the Wisconsin dwelling contractor qualifier license. This is essentially a way to check and formalize that you finished the 12 hours of required learning. Applying is simple, and the certificate is good for two years.

To apply, simply send:

To apply, simply send:

  • Your filled out application
  • $15 application fee and $30 credential fee
  • Proof of completed approved course

To 4822 Madison Yards Way, Madison, WI 53705.

4. Choose your license level.

After you receive your Wisconsin Dwelling Contractor certification, you can advance to applying for your general contractor license. At this step, you have two options for the type of license you want to apply for.

Dwelling contractor qualifier

This license is for individuals, such as handymen, who may work on one- or two- family homes, or on projects that require building permits. The license is held under an individual’s name and requires 12 hours of continuing education every 2 years. You’ll also need to renew it every year

Dwelling contractor or dwelling contractor restricted

If you own or are a partner in a contracting business, you’ll need this type of license. It’s held under your business name, but does not require continuing education. It also needs to be renewed every year.

The Wisconsin contractor licensing you choose is entirely up to you, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. If you know you work only on small one-off projects, then the restricted license with lower financial obligations may be the right choice. However, if you know you want to work up to large, long-term projects, you’re safer with the unrestricted license.

5. Get your paperwork in order.

The two types of contractor licenses may have different project limits. Still, the documents you’ll need before applying are mostly the same. Here’s what your application will generally ask for:

Business representative. The person who is applying needs to be an owner, partner, chairman of the board, or CEO of the company. Basically, you can’t use an employee to qualify your business.

Worker’s compensation insurance. This requirement doesn’t apply to you if you’re a sole proprietor. However, an employer must be licensed and insured with worker’s compensation insurance. No matter the business structure, you must sign that you’re in compliance.

Unemployment insurance. This is another requirement for companies with employees. This handbook helps you determine which coverage you need.

Bond. Requirements differ based on the type of license you hold.

Dwelling contractor – generally need a bond of at least $25,000.

Dwelling contractor restricted – A bond of less than $25,000.

General liability insurance. This last requirement applies only to unrestricted licenses. Coverage of at least $250,000 is required for bodily injury or property damage.

6. Submit application.

The previous step had all the hard work, and now it’s time to gather your forms and submit your Wisconsin contractor license application. Here’s what you’ll need to send to the state to apply for licensure:

You can submit everything online or send copies to:

Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services 4822 Madison Yards Way Madison, WI 53705

7. Renew your Wisconsin contractor license every year.

Both license levels are effective for one year and need to be renewed annually. Each year you’ll go through a similar process as you did to apply by sending an application and supporting documents online or to the department via mail. There’s also an annual fee.

If you still have unanswered Wisconsin contractor questions, check out the state’s Department of Safety and Professional Services website.

If you still need to get general liability and workers’ comp insurance before you can apply, get a contractor’s insurance quote to ensure you’re covered.

Handyman Tips and Resources

Looking to start a contracting business in Wisconsin? Getting licensed and insured is a good first step. We’re happy to help with the next steps as well, all in one convenient, easy-to-find spot — our Resource Center.

It’s filled with guides, tips, and tools — all for free. And available to you anytime. Here are a few you might find useful.

Stephanie Knapp

I’m a freelance writer who has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, starting way back with lemonade stands. These days I write to help business owners with their everyday challenges and choices. When I’m not typing away, you’ll find me eating pizza, volunteering at the animal shelter, or taking too many pictures of my cats.

Stephanie writes on a number of topics such as state insurance regulations, business licenses, and small business administration.