Carpenters are skilled craftspeople who build and repair structures made of wood, steel, concrete and other materials. They construct, erect, install, and repair structures and fixtures on residential and commercial buildings both inside and out. Carpentry requires attention to detail, knowledge of building materials, and expertise using a variety of hand and power tools.

In Massachusetts, certain carpentry jobs require licensing, while others only require registration. The type of license or registration you need depends on the size and scope of the job. This article will outline the licensing and registration requirements for carpenters and carpentry contractors in Massachusetts, including:

  • Requirements for licensure
  • Obtaining a new license
  • License renewal
  • Reciprocity
  • Bond requirements
  • Insurance requirements

Understanding these requirements is crucial for carpenters who want to work legally on construction projects in Massachusetts. Proper licensing provides assurance to consumers that carpenters have met the education, experience and examination requirements for competent practice in the state.

Requirements for Carpenter Licensure in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, a license is required from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections for structural carpentry work on buildings. However, minor ordinary repairs like fixing an existing deck only require a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) Registration.

Home Improvement Contractor Registration

Carpenters performing ordinary repairs, such as fixing an existing deck, must register with the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation as a Home Improvement Contractor (HIC). This registration does not require an exam.

Construction Supervisor License

If you plan to perform structural work like building a new deck or renovating a kitchen, you need a Construction Supervisor License (CSL) from the Office of Public Safety and Inspections.

To qualify for a CSL, you must:

  • Verify 3 years of building construction or design experience
  • Pass the CSL exam administered by Prometrics
  • Submit your exam score report to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards

There are several types of specialty CSLs for specific scopes of work:

  • CSL Masonry
  • CSL Roof Covering
  • CSL Windows Doors Siding
  • CSL Solid Fuel-Burning Appliance
  • CSL Demolition
  • CSL Insulation

The Unrestricted CSL allows general carpentry work on buildings under 35,000 cubic feet and 1-2 family dwellings. The One and Two Family Dwellings CSL is restricted to work on residential structures only.

Obtaining a New Carpenter’s License in Massachusetts

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

1. Determine the License Type You Need

The scope of carpentry work you plan to perform dictates the type of license required. Structural work requires a Construction Supervisor License relevant to the specialty. Minor repairs only need a Home Improvement Contractor Registration.

2. Verify Your Experience

You need 3 years of building construction or design experience for the CSL exam. Document your hours on the job, apprenticeships, or trade school training.

3. Pass the Exam

  • For the CSL, submit the exam registration form to Prometrics. Schedule your exam after 10 days.
  • No exam is required for the HIC Registration.

4. Submit Your Score Report or Registration

  • For the CSL, mail your passing exam score report to the Board of Building Regulations and Standards.
  • For the HIC Registration, submit your registration through the online registration system.

5. Pay the License Fee

The CSL costs $100 per year. The HIC Registration costs $200 for a 2-year registration period.

Renewing a Carpenter’s License in Massachusetts

Carpenter’s licenses must be renewed to remain valid in Massachusetts:

  • CSL – Renew online annually after completing continuing education courses. Allow 5 weeks for processing. Late renewals incur additional fees.
  • HIC – Renew online every 2 years. Renewals over 60 days late require a new registration.

CSL Renewal Requirements:

  • Complete 8 hours of continuing education
  • Pay $100 renewal fee
  • Renew online or submit renewal form by mail

HIC Renewal Requirements:

  • No continuing education requirements
  • Pay $200 renewal fee
  • Renew online by deadline

Reciprocity for Carpenters in Massachusetts

Unfortunately, Massachusetts does not offer license reciprocity for carpenters. To work as a carpenter in Massachusetts, you must meet the state’s licensing and examination requirements even if you hold a current license in another state.

Bond Requirements for Licensed Carpenters

Massachusetts does not require licensed carpenters to obtain a surety bond. However, some carpentry contractors choose to get bonded to provide financial security and meet requirements for certain jobs.

Bonds protect the customer if the contractor fails to complete the job or causes damages. A $10,000 bond is typical for small contractors. The cost ranges from $100 – $500 per year based on credit score and experience.

Insurance Requirements for Massachusetts Carpenters

Carpeters in Massachusetts must maintain liability insurance and workers compensation insurance:

Liability Insurance

Covers third party bodily injury and property damage:

  • $100,000 minimum per occurrence
  • $300,000 minimum aggregate

Workers Compensation

Covers medical care and lost wages for job-related injuries:

  • Required for contractors with employees
  • Not required for sole proprietors without employees

Reputable insurance companies like State Farm and Liberty Mutual offer customized policies for carpenters. Expect to pay $600 – $1,500 annually for 1M/2M in liability coverage. Workers comp costs about $20 per $100 of payroll.


Proper licensing and insurance is mandatory for carpenters performing construction and repair jobs in Massachusetts. The HIC Registration covers minor repairs, while various specialty CSLs permit structural work. Renewals and continuing education keeps licenses valid.Liability insurance and workers compensation protect carpenters and customers from financial loss. Understanding the requirements prevents legal penalties for unlicensed contracting.