Carpenters in Michigan are required to be licensed by the state in order to operate legally. Obtaining a license ensures carpenters are qualified and protects homeowners and clients. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about becoming a licensed carpenter in Michigan, including:

Requirements for Licensed Carpenters in Michigan

In order to become a licensed carpenter in Michigan, there are a few key requirements you must meet:

  • Complete 60 hours of approved pre-licensure education courses. At least 6 hours must be completed in each of the following topics: business management, estimating and job costing; design and building science; contracts, liability and risk management; marketing and sales; project management and scheduling; the Michigan Residential Code; MIOSHA construction safety standards. The remaining 18 hours can be in other approved construction-related topics.
  • Submit a completed application and pay the required licensing fee to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
  • Pass the Residential Builders Exam administered by PSI Exams. This is scheduled after your application is approved by LARA.
  • Establish good moral character. Applicants undergo a character review as part of the licensing process.
  • Maintain required bonds and insurance (detailed later in this article).

Meeting these requirements and passing the licensing exam qualifies you for a Maintenance and Alteration Contractor license in Michigan. This allows you to operate as a carpenter.

How to Obtain a New Carpenter’s License in Michigan

Here are the step-by-step instructions for becoming a licensed carpenter in Michigan for the first time:

1. Complete Educational Requirements

You must complete 60 hours of pre-licensure education courses from approved providers before applying for your license. At least 6 hours must be completed in each of the required topics listed above. Refer to LARA’s approved course list to find options for completing your 60 hours of carpentry education.

2. Submit Your License Application

Once you’ve completed the required education, submit your Residential Builders License Application to LARA along with the application fee. This form is available on LARA’s website.

Make sure to include all required supporting documentation listed on the application, such as your education certificates.

3. Schedule Your Exam with PSI

LARA will review and approve your license application if you meet the requirements. Once approved, you’ll receive an Examination Eligibility postcard from PSI Exams.

Use the information provided to schedule a time to take the Residential Builders Exam at one of PSI’s testing locations in Michigan. You must pay PSI’s exam fee at the time you schedule.

4. Pass the Licensing Exam

The Residential Builders Exam covers topics like plan reading, estimating, contracts, construction techniques and codes. You’ll have access to the residential builders code book during the exam.

You must receive a passing score on the exam to become licensed. If you fail, you can retake the test after waiting 30 days.

5. Obtain Business License Bonds & Insurance

Bonds and business insurance are required to activate your carpenter’s license in Michigan. This is covered in more detail later in this guide.

Once you obtain the required bonds and insurance, your carpenter’s license will be fully approved by LARA and you can begin legally operating your carpentry business.

Renewing a Carpenter’s License in Michigan

Carpenter’s licenses in Michigan must be renewed every 3 years to remain valid. Here are the steps for renewal:

  • Complete 21 hours of continuing education. At least 3 hours must be completed in each of the topics required for pre-licensure education.
  • Submit a renewal application and pay the fee to LARA prior to your expiration date.
  • Maintain your business license bonds and required insurance.
  • Licenses can be renewed up to 60 days after expiration. After 60 days, you must reapply and meet all requirements for new applicants.

The fee to renew your Michigan carpenter’s license is $150. late renewals between 30-60 days past expiration increase the fee to $200.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpenters

Michigan does not offer license reciprocity for carpenters from other states. To become licensed in Michigan, you must meet all of the standard requirements – including education, exam, etc.

There are no exceptions made for applicants holding a current license in another state. You must fully qualify for a new license based on Michigan’s requirements.

License Bonds for Carpenters in Michigan

All licensed carpenters in Michigan must obtain and maintain a $10,000 license bond. This bond is intended to protect homeowners in case of faulty work or failure to fulfill obligations of a contract.

The bond must remain valid throughout the duration of your license. It can be obtained through your business insurance provider or a third party surety bond company.

Proof of your active $10,000 carpenter’s license bond must be provided to LARA each year when renewing your license. Failure to maintain an active bond will result in suspension of your license.

Insurance Requirements for Michigan Carpenters

Licensed carpenters must also carry specific types and amounts of business insurance for protection and risk management. Michigan requires:

  • General Liability Insurance – Minimum $500,000 per occurrence for bodily injury and property damage.
  • Worker’s Compensation – Statutory limits mandated by Michigan for any employees.
  • Employer’s Liability – Minimum $100,000.

Higher insurance limits may be desired based on the size and risk associated with your carpentry business. Your insurance agent can help you determine appropriate coverage types and limits.

Proof of active insurance coverage must be provided annually to LARA as part of license renewal. Failing to maintain the minimum required insurance can lead to fines or license suspension.


Becoming a licensed carpenter in Michigan involves completing pre-licensure education, passing an exam, obtaining business bonds and insurance, and renewing your license every 3 years. While the process takes some time and effort, being properly licensed ensures you have the qualifications and protections needed to provide carpentry services professionally and safely. Reach out to LARA or an insurance agent if you need help navigating any requirements.