Operating as a general contractor in Wisconsin requires proper licensing and insurance. This guide provides an overview of the steps to become a licensed general contractor in Wisconsin, maintain the license, and the insurance requirements.


To work as a general contractor in Wisconsin on any construction project valued over $1,000, including residential, commercial and public works, you must hold a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license. This license allows general contractors to obtain building permits required for their construction projects.

Wisconsin issues licenses for general contractors through the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). Applicants must complete educational requirements, pass an exam and show proof of insurance to qualify for a license. Licenses must also be renewed every two years.

Requirements for a Wisconsin General Contractor License

To qualify for a Wisconsin Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Complete a 12-hour initial qualifier course in dwelling construction within one year prior to applying for the license. Courses must be approved by the DSPS.
  • Pass the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier exam administered by the DSPS.
  • Submit a completed application, required documentation and pay all fees.
  • Provide proof of general liability insurance.

Initial Qualifier Course

Applicants must complete a 12-hour initial qualifier course offered by an approved education provider. As of November 2022, at least 4 hours of the course must cover:

  • Construction laws, codes and contracts
  • Liability
  • Risk management

A list of approved initial qualifier courses is available on the DSPS website. Courses are available online and in-person.


After completing the initial qualifier course, applicants must pass the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier exam. The exam covers topics such as construction laws, safety, estimation, supervision and more.


Submit a completed Application for Dwelling Contractor Qualifier Certification along with the application fee and proof of completion of the initial qualifier course.


The following fees apply:

  • Application Fee: $15
  • License Fee: $30
  • Total Fees: $45

Fees must be paid at the time of application via check or money order payable to the DSPS.


Applicants must provide proof of public liability insurance coverage, including products liability insurance with combined limits of at least $500,000 per occurrence because of bodily injury, death or property damage, subject to a policy minimum aggregate limit of $500,000.

Obtaining a Wisconsin General Contractor License

Follow these steps to obtain a general contractor license in Wisconsin:

  1. Complete a 12-hour initial qualifier course approved by the DSPS.
  2. Pass the Dwelling Contractor Qualifier exam.
  3. Obtain public liability insurance and proof of coverage.
  4. Complete and submit the license application, documentation, and all fees.
  5. Receive your license from the DSPS.

Note that you can submit your license application before passing the exam, but the DSPS will hold your application until you pass the required exam.

Renewing a Wisconsin General Contractor License

Dwelling Contractor Qualifier licenses in Wisconsin must be renewed every two years. To renew, licensees must:

  • Pay the renewal fee
  • Complete 12 hours of continuing education

At least 4 hours of continuing education must cover construction laws, codes, contracts, liability and risk management. Licensees must attest that their continuing education included these required topics.

The renewal fee is $75 for licenses expired less than five years. Renewals can be completed online through the DSPS eSLA system or by submitting a paper application.


Wisconsin does NOT have reciprocity for contractor licenses with any other states. Contractors with a license from another state must meet Wisconsin’s licensing requirements to obtain a contractor license. This includes completing Wisconsin’s approved education, passing the state exam and submitting a complete Wisconsin application.

License Bond Requirements

Wisconsin does not require general contractors to obtain license bonds.

Insurance Requirements

General contractors in Wisconsin must carry public liability insurance, including products liability insurance. At a minimum, insurance coverage limits must be:

  • $500,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, death and property damage
  • $500,000 aggregate policy limit

Higher insurance limits may be advisable based on the size and risk level of the contractor’s projects. General liability insurance protects the contractor’s business in the event of claims due to property damage or bodily injury caused by the contractor’s work.


Operating as a general contractor in Wisconsin requires obtaining a Dwelling Contractor Qualifier license from the state’s DSPS. Key steps include completing approved education, passing a state exam, submitting a license application with fees, and carrying proper insurance. Licenses must be renewed every two years by paying the fee and completing continuing education. Reciprocity is not available for contractor licenses issued by other states. Contact the Wisconsin DSPS with any questions about becoming a properly licensed general contractor.