In Maryland, carpenters are considered home improvement contractors and are required to be licensed by the Maryland Home Improvement Commission (MHIC). The MHIC licenses and regulates contractors and salespersons who perform home improvement work in the state.

Home improvement work includes any alteration, remodeling, repair, replacement, or improvement to a residential building or structure. This also covers work done on individual condominium units. Home improvement does not include work done on commonly owned areas of condominiums or buildings with four or more single family units.

To legally operate as a carpenter in Maryland, individuals must obtain a home improvement contractor license from the MHIC. Licensed carpenters can perform carpentry services like installing trim, building decks, framing walls, and other woodworking jobs for Maryland residents.

Requirements for Maryland Carpentry Licensure

The key requirements to obtain an MHIC carpenter contractor license in Maryland include:

  • Minimum Age of 18: Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Experience: Applicants must document at least 2 years of experience in home improvement work, construction, and/or related education.
  • Exams: Applicants must pass a technical trade exam and business management exam administered by PSI Examinations.
  • Financial Solvency: Applicants must demonstrate financial solvency and stability. This includes providing personal and business financial statements, tax returns, and a full credit report.
  • Insurance: Applicants must have $50,000 in general liability insurance coverage. This must be maintained at all times.
  • Fees: Licensing fees must be paid, including exam fees, application fees, and license renewal fees.
  • Trade Name Registration: If operating under a trade name, it must be registered with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
  • No Criminal Convictions: Applicants cannot have a conviction for a misdemeanor related to home improvement work or a felony.

How to Obtain a Maryland Carpenter Contractor License

Follow these key steps to get licensed as a carpenter contractor in Maryland:

1. Gain Relevant Experience

Before applying for a license, carpenters need to acquire at least 2 years of full-time experience performing carpentry work on homes and residential structures. On-the-job training under a licensed contractor or formal education in carpentry can also count towards the experience requirement.

2. Prepare for and Pass the Exams

The MHIC requires all carpentry license applicants to pass a technical trade exam and a business management exam administered by PSI Examinations.

The trade exam covers topics like estimating and calculations, tools and materials, framing, interior and exterior finish, and OSHA safety. The business exam covers laws, regulations, contracts, project management, insurance, and taxes.

Exams can be scheduled through PSI after registering online. Study materials and practice tests are available for purchase.

3. Gather Required Documents

Compile all required documentation to demonstrate you meet the MHIC licensing criteria, including:

  • Experience verification from employers
  • Financial statements and tax returns
  • Personal credit report
  • Liability insurance certificate
  • Educational transcripts (if applicable)
  • Trade name registration (if applicable)
  • Criminal history records

4. Complete and Submit the License Application

The MHIC Contractor License Application can be downloaded from the Department of Labor website.

Fill out the application fully and accurately. Submit the completed application along with all supporting documents and the $270 application fee to the MHIC.

5. Receive Application Approval

If approved, the MHIC will issue a numbered home improvement contractor license. This license will be valid for 2 years initially.

The license holder will also receive a start-up package with information on legal requirements, using the license number in advertising, and more.

Maryland Carpenter License Renewal

Maryland carpenter contractor licenses must be renewed every 2 years before the expiration date to remain valid.

To renew a license, contractors must complete the License Renewal Application and pay a $200 renewal fee. Current liability insurance documentation must also be provided.

There are no continuing education requirements for renewing a Maryland carpentry contractor license.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpenters

Maryland does not offer license reciprocity for carpenter contractors from other states. All applicants must meet the MHIC’s licensing criteria and pass the required exams to be approved for a Maryland carpenter contractor license.

Bond Requirements

Licensed carpenter contractors in Maryland are not required to obtain a surety bond. However, applicants who don’t meet the MHIC financial solvency requirements can provide a bond as an alternative.

The typical bond amount required is $5,000 – $20,000 based on the applicant’s financial condition. The bond must name the Maryland Home Improvement Commission as the obligee.

Insurance Requirements

Maryland requires all licensed carpenter contractors to carry general liability insurance coverage. At minimum, contractors must have:

  • $50,000 in liability insurance coverage
  • MHIC listed as the certificate holder
  • 10-day notice provided for cancellations

This insurance must be maintained at all times and proof must be provided upon request. Contractors can purchase coverage from any licensed insurance provider.


In Maryland, carpenters must obtain a home improvement contractor license issued by the MHIC in order to perform carpentry services for compensation. Key steps include gaining relevant experience, passing two exams, providing financial documentation, getting liability insurance, and submitting a license application with fees.

Licensed carpenters must renew their license every 2 years and keep active insurance coverage at all times. Following Maryland’s licensing rules and regulations allows carpenters to legally and safely operate their carpentry business in the state.