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Licenses and registrations

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NR 114, 146, 524 Update: 

The Operator Certification program is launching a new computer-based format for all Operator Certification exams. Additional information regarding the new exam format, applications and registration can be found at Operator Certification Exams.

In the state of Wisconsin, a license or registration is required to engage in the businesses of pump installing, water well drilling or heat exchange drilling and for filling and sealing of water well or heat exchange drill holes. Pump installer, water well driller and heat exchange driller licenses are issued through the Private Water Supply Section of the department's Drinking Water and Groundwater Program. Private Water Supply licensing and registration authority is established under s. 280.15, Wis. Stats. [exit DNR]. Licensing and registration laws are promulgated through ch. NR 146, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR]. These laws ensure that the proper experience, knowledge, training and credentials are held by individuals who carry out the important role of protecting Wisconsin's valuable groundwater resource while engaging in pump installing, water well drilling and heat exchange drilling professions. Licensing requirements are provided here with application, registration and renewal process details.

Application process

License and registration application processes are detailed in the sections below. Requirements vary by license and registration type. Refer to the appropriate section and review requirements before applying.

License exams

Ch. NR 146 Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR] requires pump installers, water well drillers and heat exchange drillers to pass an exam before a license is granted in Wisconsin. The license exam evaluates an applicant's knowledge of current regulations and industry practices. The DNR has moved to computer-based license exams. This new exam platform will be available starting January 13, 2022. See the Operator Certification Exams webpage for details.

Exam options and open-code references

General license exam information is available under New Exam Format Overview and Exam Options tabs on the Operator Certification Exams webpage. Information specific to Private Water Supply license exams is provided here. License exams are computer-based and administered by a private third-party testing provider (PSI) through the DNR's Operator Certification Program. Two exam options are available. In-person proctored exams can be taken at computer lab locations available across Wisconsin. A remotely proctored option is also available that allows a registrant to take the exam from any location having a compatible computer and reliable internet access. Both options allow use of administrative code as an open-book reference during the exam. See the open-code exam reference information below for more details.

Open-code exam references and what you may bring to the exam

Private Water Supply exams are "open-code." Clean copies of chapters NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 are provided to exam registrants in a sealed envelope. The code reference copies are to remain sealed in the envelope until the start of the exam. No other open-book references are allowed.

  • The proctor will give notice when code reference contents may be removed from the envelope once the exam has begun.
  • Use of personal copies of the code is no longer allowed.
  • A hand-held calculator, a sheet of paper and a pencil will be provided.
  • An on-screen calculator will also be available.
  • Do not bring paper, pencils or calculators to the exam.
  • A current photo ID will be required.
  • The time allowed for completion is three hours.
  • A score of 75% or higher is needed to pass.
  • Results are available immediately upon completion.
  • You may bring a beverage to the exam.
Exam application and registration

Pump installers will download the exam application form from the DNR Exam Applications tab on the Operator Certification Exams page. Water well drillers and heat exchange drillers request an application by email to DNRDGLicensing@wisconsin.gov. Driller exam applications are provided to individuals with exam eligibility granted by the department. As is indicated by the exam process flowchart, all exam applications are sent by mail to the DNR at the DNR Operator Certification – EA/7 address provided on the form. Include an application fee of $25 for pump installer and $50 for drillers. Exam registration and scheduling is done through PSI. A registration fee of $90 is paid to PSI. PSI will schedule the exam and provide the open-book administrative code references in a sealed envelope prior to the exam. Code references must remain sealed in the envelope until the proctor gives notice to open the seal at the start of the exam.

License term and renewal

All licenses and registrations expire on December 31st each calendar year and must be renewed regardless of when in the calendar year the license was issued. Online renewals must be processed on or before Jan. 1 each calendar year in order to avoid late fees and to continue the license or registration without lapse. Mailed renewal applications must be postmarked no later than Dec. 31 in order to avoid late fees and continue without lapse. A license that lapses due to nonrenewal and remains expired for one calendar year can no longer be renewed. A passing grade on the license exam will be required to reinstate the license.

Continuing education

Six credit hours of attendance at department-approved continuing education is required each calendar year in order to renew a license or registration for the upcoming year. Current calendar year continuing education status and three-year attendance history can be accessed at the Continuing Education Status Portal. Refer to the continuing education page for more information.

Note: If you have trouble opening, saving or submitting fillable PDF forms in your web browser, please see the DNR PDF guidance for help.

Pump installer license
  • Qualifications: The applicant must pass an exam to qualify for a pump installer license in Wisconsin. A score of 75% or higher is needed to pass. A study guide is available to assist applicants in preparing for the exam. The study guide includes a practice exam with a few examples of the type of questions one might expect to see on the exam.
  • Applying for the exam: When ready to take the exam, go to the “DNR Exam Applications” tab at the Operator Certification Exams page to download the pump installer exam application form. Submit the completed application with fee payment by mail to the DNR Operator Certification – EA/7 address provided on the form.
  • Preparing for the pump installer license exam: See "Exam options and open-code reference format" on this page for important exam format information. Multiple-choice and true/false exam questions are taken from the study guide chapter objectives. Study Guide Part 1 lists key knowledge objectives taken from Chs. NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 Wis. Adm. Code. What is in these code references and why it is important is covered? Study Guide Part 1 and the code references cited here are the only materials needed to prepare for code related exam questions. Study Guide Part 2 lists general knowledge objectives that a Wisconsin licensed pump installer is expected to know. These objectives are not code related and should be committed to memory for general knowledge related exam questions. Study Guide Part 2 is the only reference needed to prepare for general knowledge related exam questions. The study guide cannot be used as an open-book reference during the exam. Exam results are made available immediately upon completion. A score report is provided following the exam that lists the overall test score and results by study guide chapter. Maximum attainable score and the score achieved on each chapter is provided. References needed for exam preparation can be downloaded using the links below:
  • How the license is issued: The pump installer license card and certificate are issued by mail within 10 days of passing the exam.
  • For more information on pump installer licensing:
    • Submit an email request to DNROPCERT@wisconsin.gov for information related to:
      • Exam format options, applying for the exam and exam administration
      • Changes to personal or business contact information
      • License renewal
      • License cards and certificates
      • Pump installer business registration
      • Changes to supervisory pump installer status
    • Submit an email request to DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov for information related to:
      • Approval of continuing education attendance for credit
      • Continuing education attendance and status
      • Code related pump installer licensing issues
Water well driller license
  • Qualifications: To be granted a Wisconsin water well driller license:
    1. Register: A rig operator must be registered and working under the supervision of a Wisconsin licensed water well driller for drilling experience to apply towards NR 146 requirements. See the rig operator registrations tab for information on how to apply.
    2. Submit license application form: 3300-014I.
    3. Submit experience voucher form: 3300-093.
    4. Attain license exam eligibility by completing NR 146.04(2) requirements. (See also Water Well Driller License Application Flow Chart)
    5. Email an exam application form request to: DNRDGLicensing@wisconsin.gov.
    6. Pass the water well driller license exam with a score of 75% or higher.
  • Applying for the exam: Eligible water well driller license applicants can request the exam application form by email to DNRDGLicensing@wisconsin.gov. Completed exam application forms are submitted with fee payment by mail to the DNR Operator Certification – EA/7 address provided on the form.
  • Preparing for the water well driller license exam: See "Exam options and open-code reference format" on this page for important exam format information. Multiple choice and true/false exam questions are taken from the study guide chapter objectives. Study Guide Part 1 lists key knowledge objectives taken from Chs. NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 Wis. Adm. Code. What is in these code references and why it is important is covered. Study Guide Part 1 and the code references cited here are the only materials needed to prepare for code related exam questions. Study Guide Part 2 lists general knowledge objectives that a Wisconsin licensed water well driller is expected to know. These objectives are not code related and should be committed to memory for general knowledge related exam questions. Study Guide Part 2 is the only reference needed to prepare for general knowledge related exam questions. The study guide cannot be used as an open-book reference during the exam. Exam results are available immediately upon completion. A score report is provided following the exam that lists the overall test score and results by study guide chapter. Maximum attainable score and the score achieved on each chapter is provided. References needed for exam preparation can be downloaded using the links below:
  • How the license is issued: When an applicant passes the exam, a license card and certificate are sent to regional department field staff. The field staff representative will arrange to meet with the newly licensed individual to review and sign a list of compliance expectations and to issue the license.
  • Applicants who hold a water well driller license in another state may qualify for a license in Wisconsin. For more information on the out-of-state license application process, email your inquiries to the DNR at DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov
Rig operator training for water well drillers
  • NR 146.04(2)(h) requires registered rig operators who apply for a water well drilling license to complete the following training:
    1. Cement or Bentonite Grouting of Wells — six hours
    2. Drilling Fluids — six hours
    3. Geology of Wisconsin — three hours
    4. The Well Codes — six hours
    5. Well Filling & Sealing — three hours
    6. Safety & First Aid — three hours
    7. Welding — six hours
  • Currently available training: Additional training continues to be reviewed by the department. Refer back to this section periodically for updates on training availability. The department will also provide email notifications to all registered rig operators on record as additional training becomes available.
    • Cement or Bentonite Grouting of Wells:
      • GEFCO Drilling Fundamentals Training Seminar
    • Drilling Fluids:
      • GEFCO Drilling Fundamentals Training Seminar
      • NGWA Rotary Mud and Rotary Air Drilling Exams: In lieu of completing six hours of training in drilling fluids, an applicant may pass NGWA Exam C/D: Air rotary drilling and Exam E/F: Mud rotary drilling. Exams are proctored by third party administrator PSI.
        • NGWA member cost: $75 per exam
        • Nonmember cost: $275 for both exams
        • Exam registration
    • Wisconsin Well Codes:
      • Online on-demand Wisconsin Well Codes training is available at no cost to Wisconsin registered drilling rig operators.
      • Select a two-hour session from the list below to register
        • Session I: NR 146 & NR 812 Subchapter I - register
        • Session II: NR 812 Subchapter II - register
        • Session III: NR 812 Subchapter III – VIII/ NR 809 & NR 810/ NR 811/ NR 845/ NR 123/ NR 140/ NR 141 - register
    • Geology of Wisconsin:
      • WGNHS Geology of Wisconsin Training:
        • In-person training on the geology of Wisconsin is under development with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. Location and registration information is pending and will be provided in late fall of 2021.
          • Available only to Wisconsin registered rig operators
          • Provides all three hours of required Geology of Wisconsin training.
          • Preliminary agenda includes the following:
            • How Wisconsin was built
            • State geologic maps and the stratigraphic column
            • Aquifers of Wisconsin (with dual aquifer considerations)
            • Sulfide cement horizon
            • Cuttings identification
            • Well Construction reporting and terminology
    • Safety & First Aid:
  • For more information on how to get started with rig operator training requirements, email an information request to DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov or call (920) 946-1149.
Heat exchange driller license
  • Qualifications: To be granted a Wisconsin heat exchange driller license:
    1. Register: A rig operator must be registered and working under the supervision of a Wisconsin licensed heat exchange driller for drilling experience to apply towards NR 146 requirements. See the rig operator registrations tab for information on how to apply.
    2. Submit license application form 3300-300.
    3. Submit experience voucher for 3300-301.
    4. Attain license exam eligibility by completing NR 146.04(9a) requirements.
    5. Pass the heat exchange driller license exam with a score of 75% or higher.
  • Applying for the exam: Eligible heat exchange driller license applicants can request the exam application form by email to DNRDGLicensing@wisconsin.gov. Completed exam application forms are submitted with fee payment by mail to the DNR Operator Certification – EA/7 address provided on the form.
  • Preparing for the heat exchange driller license exam: See "Exam options and open code reference format" on this page for important exam format information. Multiple choice and true/false exam questions are taken from the study guide chapter objectives. Study Guide Part 1 lists key knowledge objectives taken from Chs. NR 146 and NR 812 Wis. Adm. Code. What is in these code references and why it is important is covered. Study Guide Part 1 and the code references cited here are the only materials needed to prepare for code related exam questions. Study Guide Part 2 lists general knowledge objectives that a Wisconsin licensed heat exchange driller is expected to know. These objectives are not code related and should be committed to memory for general knowledge related exam questions. Study Guide Part 2 is the only reference needed to prepare for general knowledge related exam questions. The study guide cannot be used as an open-book reference during the exam. Exam results are available immediately upon completion. A score report is provided following the exam that lists the overall test score and results by study guide chapter. Maximum attainable score and the score achieved on each chapter is provided. References needed for exam preparation can be downloaded using the links below:
  • How the license is issued: When an applicant passes the exam, a license card and certificate are sent to regional department field staff. The field staff representative will arrange to meet with the newly licensed individual to review and sign a list of compliance expectations and to issue the license.
  • Heat exchange drilling (geothermal systems) resources: Refer to the Heat exchange drilling (geothermal systems) page for supplemental information on heat exchange drilling.
  • Questions related to the Wisconsin water well driller license application process can be directed by email to the DNR at DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov
  • Applicants who hold a water well driller license in another state may qualify for a license in Wisconsin. For more information on the out-of-state license application process, email your inquiries to the DNR at DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov.
Business registrations
Drilling rig operator registrations
Licenses to perform well filling and sealing
  • Requirement: To perform well filling and sealing, an individual must either hold a pump installer or water well driller license in Wisconsin or be employed by and working under the supervision of a Wisconsin license holder. To perform heat exchange drillhole filling and sealing, an individual must either hold a Wisconsin heat exchange driller license or be employed by and working under the supervision of a Wisconsin licensed heat exchange driller.
Licenses to perform property transfer well inspections
  • Requirement: To perform property transfer well inspections, an individual must either hold a pump installer or water well driller license in Wisconsin. It is not permissible to perform inspections under the supervision of a licensed individual. For more information, see Property Transfer Well Inspections.
Monitoring well construction or filling and sealing
  • No license is required to construct or fill and seal monitoring wells in Wisconsin. The work must be performed in accordance with NR 141, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR] and any approvals issued by DNR.