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General Contractor Licensing in Wisconsin

The State of Wisconsin regulates their construction industry by requiring any person or business performing construction work to obtain certification.  Certification credentials are issued by the Department of Safety and Professional Services.

In Wisconsin, certification allows contractors to get the proper building permits from their county or municipality in order to start a project.  Wisconsin offers three different certification levels for general contractors.  As of 2008, contractors are required to two levels of certification.  In order to perform work, they must hold a regular or restricted Dwelling Contractor credential, as well as Qualifier Certification.

Types of General Contractor Licenses in Wisconsin

  1. Dwelling Contractor Certification- allows contractors to perform work on one and two-family homes
  2. Dwelling Contractor Certification- Restricted- allows contractors to perform work on one and two-family homes with a limit of $25,000 per project
  3. Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification- allows contracting businesses to perform work on one and two-family homes.  As of 2008, the State of Wisconsin requires all contractors to obtain, hire or employ someone who hold Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification.
*The Department used to offer a fourth level of certification, known as Building Contractor Registration; however, as of July 2, 2013, the State of Wisconsin passed a new law and no longer offers this option for contractors.  Any application for Building Contractor Registration submitted on or after July 2, 2013, was thrown out and fees were refunded.  

Process to Obtain General Contractor Credentials in Wisconsin

  1. Applicants must determine if they want to apply for regular or restricted Dwelling Contractor Certification.  They must also choose an individual within the company, such as an owner or employee to act as a qualifier and also apply for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification
  2. Applicants must obtain and fill out the application for Dwelling Contractor Certification and Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification.
  3. Applicants must obtain general liability insurance or post a surety bond
  4. Applicants must obtain unemployment and worker’s compensation insurance if they plan to employ workers.
  5. Applicants must attend 12 hours of qualifier education training.
  6. Submit the applications to the Department along with the required documentation, application fees and credential fees.

Education Requirement for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification

All general contractors in the State of Wisconsin must have an individual within their company who holds a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification credential. This individual may be an:

  • Employee
  • Owner
  • CEO
  • Chairman of the Board

In addition to filling out and submitting a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier application, the qualifier must also complete 12 hours of approved training courses. Businesses may also choose to hire a qualifier who has met the education requirement.

Qualifiers must have completed the education requirement within one year of the date that they submit their application; otherwise they will have to re-take courses, proving that their knowledge is up-to-date.

Training courses must be relevant to the trade of contracting and approved by the Department.  For more information, and for a list of Department-approved courses, click the link below.

http://dsps.wi.gov/Licenses-Permits/DCQCE

The course provider will provide documents proving that the qualifier has taken and passed their course.  This document must be submitted as proof of course completion along with the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier application.

Applying for Dwelling Contractor Certification or Restricted Certification

Dwelling Contractor Certification applications are found online at:

http://dsps.wi.gov/Documents/Credentialing%20Forms/Trades%20Application%20Forms/Dc.pdf

For a copy of the Dwelling Contractor- Restricted Certification application, please visit:
http://dsps.wi.gov/Documents/Credentialing%20Forms/Trades%20Application%20Forms/Dcr.pdf

It is important to follow the directions and fill out the application entirely.  All information provided on the application must be accurate and truthful.

In addition to filling out the application, contractors are also required provide the following documents:

  • Proof of General Liability Insurance OR Surety Bond:
    General contractors are required to hold general liability insurance in the amount of $25,000 per occurrence.  The contractor is expected to keep their insurance up to date and active when they are contracting work.  Contractors also have the option of posting a surety bond worth $25,000 instead of general liability insurance.  Those applying for a restricted certification are only required to submit a bond in the minimum amount of $5,000.  More information about bonds and insurance are found on the application.
  • Proof of Workers Compensation Insurance-
    If the general contractor is planning on hiring and employing workers, they must carry worker’s compensation insurance.  More information about worker’s compensation insurance is found on the application or by calling the Worker’s Compensation Division at: (608)-266-1340
  • Proof of Unemployment Compensation-
    If the general contractor is planning on employing workers, they most also prove that they hold unemployment compensation.  More information about unemployment compensation and taxes is found on the application, or by calling the Unemployment Compensation Division at: (608)-261-6700

There is an application fee of $40 for both Dwelling Contractor and Dwelling Contractor- Restricted Certification.  This amount covers both the application and credential fee.  Submit payments by check along with the application.  Checks should be made out to “State of WI- DSPS.”

Mail the completed applications, along with the required documents and fee to:

DSPS Trades Credentialing
PO Box 78780
Milwaukee WI 53293-0780

*For any other questions or correspondence, call: (608)-266-2112

Applying for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification

In addition to the Dwelling Contractor Certification application, all contractors must submit a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier application and attach proof that the qualifier has completed the education requirement.  The contractor has the choice of obtaining the qualifier certification themselves, or electing someone else within their company to hold this credential.

Copies of the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier application are found online at:

http://dsps.wi.gov/Documents/Credentialing%20Forms/Trades%20Application%20Forms/Dcq.pdf

There is an application fee of $45.  This amount covers both the application and certification fee.  Checks should be made out to “State of WI- DSPS.”

Mail the completed Qualifier application along with proof of course completion and the fee to:

DSPS Trades Credentialing
PO Box 78780
Milwaukee WI 53293-0780

*For any other questions or correspondence, call: (608)-266-2112

How Long Dwelling Contractor Certification Valid?

Dwelling Contractor Certification is good for 1 year.  Qualifier Certification is good for 2 years.  The Department will mail all contractors a renewal application 30 days before their credentials expire.

Be sure to submit all renewal applications and renewal fees immediately to allow time for processing.  Some renewal notices will provide directions for online renewal.

There is a fee of $25 to renew both the regular and restricted Dwelling Contractor Certification.  Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification renewal costs $30.

Dwelling Contractor Qualifiers are also required to complete 12 additional hours of continuing education over a 2 year period to remain licensed. For more information and for a list of approved continuing education courses, visit:

http://dsps.wi.gov/Licenses-Permits/DCQCE

Table of Fees

FEE WHAT IS IT FOR? WHEN IS IT DUE?
$40 Application and Credential fee for Dwelling Contractor Certification Upon submitting the Dwelling Contractor Certification Application
$40 Application and Credential fee for Dwelling Contractor- Restricted Certification Upon submitting the Dwelling Contractor- Restricted Certification Application
$45 Application and Credential fee for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification Upon submitting the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification Application
$25,000 General Liability insurance policy per incident or Surety Bond of equal amount Prior to submitting the Dwelling Contractor Certification Application
$5,000 Minimum Surety Bond amount for those applying for a Restricted Dwelling Contractor Certification Prior to submitting the Dwelling Contractor- Restricted Application
$25 Credential fee to renew a Dwelling Contractor Certification When submitting the renewal application
$25 Credential fee to renew a Dwelling Contractor- Restricted Certification When submitting the renewal application
$30 Credential fee to renew a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification When submitting the renewal application