Carpenter/Cabinet Maker Contractor (General/Commercial)

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing


License required in 30 states
22nd most burdensome licensing requirements
27th most heavily regulated occupation

(Last updated April 24, 2012)


Carpenter and cabinet maker contractors contract with clients to construct, erect, install or repair structures and fixtures made of wood, such as concrete forms; building frameworks, including partitions, joists, studding and rafters; wood stairways, window and door frames and hardwood floors; and may also install cabinets, siding, drywall and batt or roll insulation. They include brattice builders who build doors or brattices (ventilation walls or partitions) in underground passageways to control the proper circulation of air through the passageways and to the working places.

Typically, only contractors require licenses, not carpenters who work for them. Licensing requirements differ based on the scope of the work. Those with a residential license may work only on residential properties, while those with a commercial license may work on commercial properties. In some states, work on commercial properties requires a general contractor's license that is not specific to carpenters; the requirements are generally the same as a commercial license, and they are treated the same here.


Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia require a general contractor or commercial license for carpenter contractors working on commercial properties. Ten states require experience -- effectively an apprenticeship working for an already licensed contractor -- ranging from two years in Utah, South Carolina and New Mexico to five years in Arkansas. Florida requires a four-year degree instead of an apprenticeship. Along with requirements of one to two exams and fees up to $1,030 in the case of Nevada, carpenters are ranked as having the 22nd most burdensome licensing requirements. Kansas is the least burdensome state requiring only registration.

(Last updated May 2, 2012)

State Licensing Requirements

Burden RankStateFeesEducation/Experience (Days)ExamsMinimum GradeMinimum Age

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