Carpenters in Alaska fall under the classification of Specialty Contractor and are required to obtain a state license to legally operate. Licenses are issued by the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing.

Becoming a Licensed Carpenter in Alaska

To become a licensed carpenter in Alaska, individuals must meet eligibility requirements and submit a complete application.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for a specialty contractor license in Alaska, applicants must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older. Applicants must submit legal documentation verifying their age such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport.
  • Have a valid Alaska business license. Applicants can obtain a business license by registering with the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. Sole proprietors must provide their social security number.
  • Provide proof of liability insurance. This insurance protects against third party bodily injury and property damage claims arising from business operations. Minimum coverage levels are set by the state.
  • Provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance (or file an exemption). Businesses with employees must carry workers’ compensation to provide benefits for job-related injuries and illnesses. Certain exempt statuses allow sole proprietors to waive this requirement.
  • Pass the specialty contractor exam. A minimum passing score demonstrates applicants have the basic knowledge needed to operate as a contractor in Alaska. Exam results are valid for one year.
  • Post a $10,000 surety bond. This bond functions as a consumer protection by providing financial compensation if the contractor fails to meet professional obligations. The bond must remain effective for the licensing period.

Applicants that only perform carpentry jobs valued under $10,000 can qualify for a General Contractor – Handyman license instead. This license requires a reduced $5,000 surety bond.

The Specialty Contractor Application Process

To apply for a specialty contractor license, individuals must submit the following:

  • A completed application form. The application asks for basic information about the business, key personnel, experience, and more. All questions must be answered accurately and truthfully.
  • Application fee of $200. This non-refundable fee covers the administrative costs of processing and reviewing the application. It can be paid via check, money order, or credit card.
  • Proof of passing the specialty contractor exam. Documentation must show the exam date, scores, and passing status. Exam results are considered valid for one year from the test date.
  • Surety bond of $10,000. An original bond certificate from the surety company must be provided. It should list the effective date, bond number, and the State of Alaska as the obligee.
  • Certificate of liability insurance. This certificate verifies active general liability coverage at or above state minimums. It must list the insurance company, policy number, effective dates, and coverage amounts.
  • Certificate of workers’ compensation insurance or an exemption. A certificate of insurance must be submitted for businesses with employees. Sole proprietors can file an exemption form instead.
  • Copy of current Alaska business license. All businesses operating in Alaska must register with the state and provide their license number.

All required documents must be submitted together for the application to be considered complete. Incomplete applications will delay processing and approval. Once approved, the specialty contractor license is valid for two years.


Applicants for a specialty contractor license must take and pass the specialty contractor exam. The exam covers topics relevant to owning and operating a contracting business in Alaska such as lien laws, contracts, estimating, and more.

The exam is administered by PSI Services LLC and offered at testing centers statewide. It contains 75 multiple choice questions and test takers have 2 hours to complete it. Questions cover general business knowledge, Alaska contracting laws, and basic construction principles.

A minimum score of 70% is required to pass. Exam results are valid for one year from the test date. Applicants who fail may retake the exam after a 1 week waiting period. Sample tests are available for purchase to help study for and pass the exam.


The following state fees apply to becoming a licensed specialty contractor:

  • Application Fee: $200 – non-refundable, covers processing costs
  • Initial License Fee: $200 – covers first 2-year licensing period
  • Exam Fee: $165 – paid directly to test provider PSI Services LLC
  • Total Fees: $565 to submit application and pass required exam

Additional expenses may include costs for the surety bond, business formation fees, and insurance.

Renewing a Carpenter’s License in Alaska

Alaska carpenter licenses must be renewed every two years to remain active. The renewal process involves meeting continuing education requirements and paying renewal fees.

Continuing Education Requirements

As a condition of renewing their contractor license, carpenters must complete 8 hours of approved continuing education. Requirements include:

  • Minimum 4 hours vocational education – must cover technical topics relevant to carpentry such as tools, materials, methods, building codes, etc.
  • Up to 4 hours workplace safety or business courses – examples include OSHA 10, CPR/first aid, sexual harassment prevention, management, etc.
  • Only approved courses count – providers include trade associations, colleges, online vendors, etc. Courses must be taken in the 24 months preceding renewal.

Continuing education demonstrates carpenters maintain and expand their professional skills and industry knowledge. Licensees are responsible for selecting appropriate courses and tracking completed hours.

Renewal Application and Fees

To renew their license, carpenters must complete the following:

  • Fill out the license renewal application – available 60 days prior to expiration, can be submitted online
  • Pay $200 renewal fee – covers next 2-year licensing period, non-refundable once license is renewed
  • Provide updated surety bond – must be valid through the new licensing period, bond number goes on application
  • Submit updated insurance certificates – must have active general liability and workers’ compensation coverage
  • Renewals must be submitted by the license expiration date to prevent lapse – licenses expire on December 31st of odd-numbered years
  • Late renewals can be filed within 60 days of expiration with a $100 late fee

Once approved, the renewed license is issued for another two year term. Licensees should ensure all renewal items are handled prior to expiration to avoid disruptions.

Renewal Timeline

The carpenter license renewal period follows a set schedule:

  • Renewals open 60 days prior to the license expiration date
  • Renewal applications are due by the expiration date to avoid lapse
  • Licenses expire on December 31st of odd-numbered years
  • Late renewals can be filed within 60 days of expiration with a $100 late fee
  • After 60 days, expired licenses are considered lapsed and ineligible for renewal

Proper planning ensures carpenters complete all renewal steps on time. Tracking key deadlines on a calendar is recommended.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpenters

Carpenters holding a current license in another state may qualify for reciprocity in Alaska. This allows them to become licensed without completing all normal application requirements. To obtain reciprocity, carpenters must:

  • Hold a current license in a state with equivalent licensing standards as Alaska. This is generally limited to other states that license contractors by trade category and require a similar process.
  • Pass the Alaska specialty contractor exam. While exam results from other states may be accepted for the application itself, all reciprocity applicants must show they passed Alaska’s state exam.
  • Submit a reciprocity application and $200 fee. The application must include all documentation required of regular applicants except for items met through equivalent state licensing (e.g exam results).
  • Meet Alaska’s bonding and insurance requirements. Reciprocity does not exempt carpenters from obtaining an Alaska surety bond and insurance even if current policies from another state are provided.

Applicants licensed in a state without formal reciprocity with Alaska will need to apply as a new candidate. Reciprocity may help streamline certain application components but does not eliminate Alaska’s specific licensing obligations.

Bond Requirements

All licensed carpenters must post a $10,000 surety bond that remains effective for their entire license period. This requirement applies to both new and renewed licenses.

Purpose of the Bond

The surety bond functions as a consumer protection by providing financial compensation if a contractor fails to meet their professional obligations under a contract. It does not insure the quality of the contractor’s work.

If a consumer obtains a civil judgment against a contractor for breach of contract, negligent or improper work, or other damages, they can file a claim against the bond to recover losses. This offers a remedy for homeowners or other contracting parties to receive compensation for harm caused by the contractor.

Bond Terms

  • Must remain effective for the entire 2-year licensing period
  • If canceled before license expires, contractor must file a new bond
  • Bond number must be provided on initial license applications and renewals
  • Bond cancellation does not cancel the contractor’s license

Surety companies can cancel bonds by giving 60 days written notice. Contractors can proactively secure and provide a new bond to prevent license suspension. Licenses will be suspended if no valid bond is on file.

Securing the Bond

Carpenters must obtain the surety bond from a company authorized to transact surety business in Alaska. The company will charge an annual premium based on factors like business type, size, financial health, and claims history.

The bond certificate provided to the state licensing board must show certain information like the effective date, bond amount, name of principal and surety, and the State of Alaska listed as the obligee. A power of attorney document should be attached if an attorney-in-fact signs for the surety.

Insurance Requirements

Licensed carpenters must comply with Alaska’s minimum insurance requirements by carrying general liability and workers’ compensation policies.

General Liability Insurance

All specialty contractors are required to maintain the following general liability insurance coverage:

  • $20,000 per occurrence for property damage
  • $50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury or death to one person
  • $100,000 per occurrence for bodily injury or death to two or more persons

This important coverage protects the business against third party claims alleging bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury arising from operations and completed work.

Common claims covered include property damage, medical expenses from injuries, pain and suffering damages, and attorneys’ fees. Policies should not exclude common contracting risks like collapse, underground, or damage to work performed.

Certificates of insurance listing policy details must be provided with license applications and renewals. Coverage must remain active – if a policy is canceled, the contractor must file proof of new insurance to maintain licensing.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

By law, businesses with employees must carry a workers’ compensation insurance policy that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to workers injured on the job.

Exceptions exist for:

  • Sole proprietors with no employees – can file an exemption
  • Partnerships where all partners are owners – can file an exclusion endorsement
  • One person corporations where the owner has an exclusion – can file an exclusion endorsement

Certificates of insurance must be submitted confirming active workers’ compensation policies. Alternative exemption/exclusion forms can be filed for exempt statuses. Coverage must remain current and updated certificates provided at renewal.


In summary, specialty contractor licensing allows carpenters in Alaska to operate legally after meeting eligibility criteria, passing exams, and submitting a complete application with supporting bonds and insurance. Licensed carpenters must renew their license biennially through continuing education and fees. Reciprocity eases the process for out-of-state carpenters from states with similar licensing standards. All Alaska carpenters must maintain appropriate surety bonds and insurance for consumer protection. Complying with state licensing and insurance rules allows carpenters to establish lawful and reputable businesses.