2020 Edition

The Carpentry Test Guide

The Carpentry Test Summary
What: Carpentry tests are required in some states to obtain a license to work as a carpenter. Requirements vary widely among states.
Who: Those working as carpenters should check with the state and local authorities where they reside to see if licensing and tests are required in order to work on all construction projects or certain types of projects.
Where: Each state has its own carpentry test and licensing requirements. It is best to check with the state to see where tests are administered.
When: Since testing varies widely among states, you will need to check with the appropriate agency to see when tests are given.
How: Most tests are hands-on or written.
Type: Trade exams are generally either hands-on tests or written exams. Other portions of the test, such as business, law, finance, or any other type given are written exams that are usually in multiple choice format. Some may be open book and others are closed
Why: Some states require carpenters to be licensed and to pass tests to insure that they meet minimum knowledge and standards requirements. Other states have no such requirements.
Time: Test lengths vary widely among states.
Language: English
Preparation: Most states offer a manual that explains what is required on the test. There are also study guides, practice exams and test taking courses available in some states.
Cost: Costs for carpentry exams and licenses vary widely.

By Andrea Cohen, Tests.com Contributing Writer

Carpentry licensing and exam requirements vary widely among states. In some states, carpenters and other contractors are not required to be licensed at all, no matter what type of job they perform. Some may not have state requirements, but rather local requirements, either on the city, township or county level. In other states, licensing and exams are only required for carpenters that work on jobs that are over a certain amount of money or over a certain size. Still others may require licensing and exams for commercial carpenters but not residential carpenters. And to round out the differences among states, there are some states that require carpenters to take exams and to obtain licenses no matter what they do, where they work or the size or cost of the job.

Because there is such a great difference in different state and local regulations, carpenters will need to check with their local and state agencies to learn what exactly they need to do to be able to work in their particular community.

Carpentry Exam Formats
Since exams vary from state to state, they all have different formats. Most business and law sections of the exams are multiple choice. Trade sections of the exam vary between multiple-choice questions and hands on testing. Some exams are open book while others are closed. The number of questions per exam and the length of time allowed to complete each exam also differ from state to state. Fees can vary widely as well. Some carpentry exams are administered by state agencies and others are administered by third party testing agencies.

Exam Requirements
Licensing requirements for carpenters are as varied as the states in our nation.

  • Pennsylvania and Maine do not require any carpentry exams or licenses.
  • Kansas, Idaho, New York and Colorado do not have state licensing requirements, but may have licensing requirements at the local level.
  • Nevada requires all carpentry contractors to be licensed, as do Hawaii and West Virginia.
  • Mississippi and Alabama require carpenters to pass not only a trade exam, but a business and law management exam as well.
  • Alabama requires carpenters to get a license if they are working as general contractors on commercial projects costing more than $50,000 or residential projects costing more than $10,000.
  • In Mississippi, a license is required for all but the smallest construction projects.
  • North Carolina requires carpenters working as general contractors on any jobs costing more than $30,000 to take an exam and get a license.
  • In Texas, only specialty contractors doing work such as plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and a few other specialties need to be licensed.

Some states require a trade exam only, and others require a business and law exam in addition to the trade exam. The trade exam in many states includes multiple choice questions, but there are others, as is the case in California, that require hands-on exams. All business and law sections are multiple-choice exams.

For those states that do require exams, there may also be variations among different carpentry specialties. Some states consider carpentry as a specialty in and of itself which covers any type of carpentry work, while others may break it down depending on whether the specialty is finish carpentry, framing, millwork, or other specific aspects of carpentry. The types of exams vary as well.

As an example, California offers a finish carpentry license and requires a six-section trade exam. One section covers safety and accident prevention, while others cover creating plans, pricing materials, building items, removing old items and installing new ones.

In some states, such as Florida, the test is broken up differently. The state test has three parts, including business and finance, contract administration and project management.

For those states that require carpenters to be licensed, the prerequisites to be licensed, or in some cases to even sit for the exams, can vary widely.

For example, Mississippi requires pre-approval to sit for the carpentry exam, but does not require minimum education or experience requirements. Applicants must provide proof of workers compensation and liability insurance and show proof of net worth prior to obtaining a license.

Florida has more stringent requirements requiring education or experience, including either a four-year construction degree from an accredited college and one year related experience, or four years work experience, in which at least one year must be as a foreman, or other combinations of education and work experience.

Other states vary as to whether or not they require any education, apprenticeships or related work experience.

Interested in becoming a licensed carpenter? Check out our Carpentry Test Directory.

Quality starts with who wrote the material.
Our practice exam writer
John Howley, Jr
is a certified carpentry instructor from Florida. John taught carpentry for over twenty years in a technical high school.