Carpenters in North Carolina are considered general contractors or specialty contractors and are required to have a license issued by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors (NCLBGC) if their work totals $30,000 or more. Obtaining and maintaining a contractor’s license ensures carpenters meet the standards for competency and business practices established in North Carolina statutes and rules. This article provides a comprehensive guide on licensing requirements, the application process, license limitations, reciprocity, continuing education, and insurance for carpenters in North Carolina.

Requirements for Licensure

To obtain a general contractor’s license in North Carolina, carpenters must:

  • Complete the license application
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Demonstrate good moral character
  • Meet the minimum financial requirements based on desired license limitation
  • Pass the required exams for the license classification

The license application is submitted online through the NCLBGC website. Applicants will need to provide details on their experience, financial condition, and business character references.

Financial requirements are based on the limitation of the license, which determines the size of projects the license allows. The three license limitations are:

  • Limited – Up to $750,000 per project
  • Intermediate – Up to $1,500,000 per project
  • Unlimited – No limit per project

Meeting the financial requirements can be done by submitting an audited financial statement, agreed upon procedures report, or surety bond.

License classifications for carpenters are:

  • Building Contractor – Covers all types of building construction
  • Residential Contractor – Covers residential building construction
  • Specialty Contractor – Interior construction, flooring, cabinets, etc.

The required exams are based on the license classification and assess knowledge of business, law, and trade. Exams are scheduled through PSI once eligibility is granted by the NCLBGC.

New License Application Process

Here are the key steps for carpenters to obtain a new contractor’s license in North Carolina:

  1. Submit the license application – Completed online through the NCLBGC website.
  2. Application review – Takes 2 weeks, corrections may be required.
  3. Schedule exams – Eligibility letter will provide info to schedule with PSI.
  4. Take and pass exams – Based on the license classification.
  5. Board approval – Applications reviewed twice per month.
  6. License granted – Takes 2-3 weeks after exams and board approval.

In total it takes 4-6 weeks to get a license after submitting the application. The application fee is $75 and exam fees are $100 per exam.

License Renewal and Continuing Education

Contractor’s licenses in North Carolina must be renewed annually before December 31. License renewal is completed online through the NCLBGC website.

As part of renewal, at least one qualifier must complete 8 hours of continuing education (CE). A qualifier is a managing employee who passed the licensing exams. The CE must include a 2 hour Board-approved course on law/rule changes. The remaining 6 hours are electives.

Approved CE courses can be taken online or in-person. Costs vary by provider. Courses must be completed between January 1st-November 30th each year.

Reciprocity with Other States

North Carolina does not offer full reciprocity for contractor licensing with any other state. However, it does allow for examination waivers to be used during the application process for contractors licensed in these states:

  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Louisiana
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Florida

With an exam waiver, applicants only need to take the North Carolina Business and Law exam. License verifications from the other state must be submitted with the application.

License Bonds

License bonds are required for applicants that want to meet financial requirements through a surety bond instead of an audited financial statement or agreed upon procedures report. Bond amounts required are:

  • Limited License – $175,000
  • Intermediate License – $500,000
  • Unlimited License – $1,000,000

The surety bond must be maintained for as long as the license is active in North Carolina.

Insurance Requirements

There are no insurance requirements mandated by the NCLBGC for having a contractor’s license. However, carpenters may need to meet local permit or project insurance requirements. Common insurance policies are:

  • General Liability Insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Builders Risk Insurance

Maintaining proper insurance protects carpenters from potential losses and liabilities associated with their work.


Obtaining a general contractor’s license from the NCLBGC is required for carpenters in North Carolina doing projects totaling $30,000 or more. Key steps include submitting an application, meeting financial requirements, passing exams, and renewing the license annually with required continuing education. License limitations determine the size of projects allowed. Reciprocity is limited but exam waivers are available for certain states. While insurance is not required for licensing, it is highly recommended to protect carpenters and their business.