Carpenters in West Virginia need to hold a state contractor’s license to work on any construction projects valued at over $2,500. This includes general carpentry work like framing and finish carpentry tasks like installing cabinets and trim.

Becoming a Licensed Carpenter in West Virginia

To become a licensed carpenter in West Virginia, you’ll need to go through the following steps:

Meet Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a contractor’s license in West Virginia, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legally authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Not have any felony convictions related to contracting in the last 10 years
  • Not have any outstanding judgments or liens against you
  • Provide proof of general liability insurance
  • Provide proof of workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance (if you have employees)
  • Register your business with the WV Secretary of State (if required)
  • Obtain a business registration certificate from the WV Tax Department

Pass Required Exams

Carpenters need to pass the WV business and law exam, which covers topics like lien laws, employment laws, safety, and taxes.

The business and law exam has 50 multiple choice questions and you’ll need to score at least 70% to pass. Exams are administered by PSI Services and you can schedule online or by phone. Study materials are available for purchase from PSI as well.

Finish carpentry is considered an untested specialty, so you only need to take the business and law exam. Framing and other carpentry disciplines may require a trade exam as well.

Submit a License Application

Once you’ve passed the required exams, you can submit a contractor license application to the WV Division of Labor. Make sure to include:

  • A passing test score
  • Proof of business registration
  • Proof of workers’ comp and unemployment insurance
  • A bond status affidavit
  • Application fee of $125

Licenses can be obtained by mail or in-person. If approved, you’ll receive your certificate within 1 business day.

Renew Your Carpenter’s License

Contractor licenses in West Virginia need to be renewed each year. To renew, you’ll need to:

  • Pay a $90 renewal fee
  • Provide updated proofs of insurance
  • Submit a new bond status affidavit
  • Be in good standing with the Secretary of State, Tax Department, and any other required agencies

Renewals are due by the expiration date printed on your license. There are no continuing education requirements for carpenter license renewals in West Virginia.

Reciprocity for Out-of-State Carpenters

If you hold a current carpenter’s license in another state, you may be able to get a West Virginia license without taking any exams. This is known as a reciprocity agreement.

West Virginia has license reciprocity agreements for certain trades with Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. For carpentry specifically, reciprocity is available for:

  • Ohio: Reciprocity offered for the finish carpentry classification, which requires passing the WV business and law exam only.
  • Tennessee: Reciprocity offered for the residential building classification, which maps closely to carpentry work. Requires passing the WV business and law exam only.

To get a West Virginia license through reciprocity, you’ll need to:

  • Hold an active carpenter’s license in OH or TN
  • Pass the WV business and law exam
  • Submit a reciprocity application with proof of licensure
  • Pay a $125 application fee

Bond Requirements

Licensed carpenters in West Virginia may need to obtain a license bond, which helps protect consumers in case of defective work or contract violations.

Bond requirements depend on the scope and value of each job. For carpentry projects valued at:

  • $2,500 or less: No bond required
  • $2,501 to $10,000: $2,000 license bond
  • $10,001 to $100,000: $10,000 license bond
  • Over $100,000: $50,000 license bond

To get a license bond, you’ll work with a surety bond agent to apply and pay a small premium based on your business volume. The bond must be maintained for the entire license period.

Insurance Requirements

Along with a license bond, West Virginia carpenters must carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation/unemployment coverage.

General Liability Insurance

All licensed carpenters need to carry general liability insurance to cover property damage and bodily injuries caused by their work. There is no minimum coverage amount specified by the state, but $500,000 is recommended.

Workers’ Compensation

If you have employees, you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance through a private insurer or the state Workers’ Compensation Commission. This covers job-related injuries and illnesses.

Unemployment Insurance

Businesses with staff in West Virginia need unemployment insurance, which provides temporary income to workers who lose their jobs. Coverage must be obtained through Workforce West Virginia.


Becoming a licensed carpenter in West Virginia involves passing exams, submitting an application, and carrying proper insurance. Requirements help ensure carpenters have the skills and financial protections needed to serve consumers safely.

Key steps include:

  • Passing the business and law exam
  • Applying for a contractor license
  • Maintaining general liability insurance
  • Securing a license bond for projects over $2,500
  • Carrying workers’ compensation and unemployment coverage if you have employees

Out-of-state carpenters may qualify for license reciprocity in West Virginia. However, all carpenters must follow the state’s licensing laws to legally work on carpenter jobs valued at more than $2,500.