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Licenses and registrations

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NR 114, 146, 524 Update: 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) remains unable to administer regularly scheduled exams. However, we recognize that urgent circumstances exist in which a prospective operator, driller or pump installer may not be able to secure certifications or licenses, leaving their utility, facility, organization or business either in a state of noncompliance or violation.

The DNR has secured permission from the Governor’s Office to administer socially distanced in-person exams at the Wisconsin Rural Water Association’s facility in Plover, Wisconsin. We are holding morning and afternoon exam sessions twice per month and can accommodate up to 23 people per session. Masks are required, and exam stations are sterilized between sessions. Individuals who urgently need an exam should complete an “Urgent Exam Request Form”.

Urgent exam requests are evaluated weekly to determine the most critical needs, and individuals are contacted as soon as possible to confirm if their exam request was approved. Applicants that receive approval for their Urgent Exam Request will receive exam registration application forms promptly.

The DNR is also in the process of seeking approval to draft emergency rules that will authorize contracts with third-party providers. These contracts will help administer online exams for landfills, drinking water and wastewater system operators, septage haulers, well drillers and pump installers. We anticipate launching online exams in summer of 2021.

We at the DNR thank you for your patience and cooperation as we all go through the COVID-19 emergency.

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. Wisconsin’s licensing and registration program is established under section 280.15, Wisconsin Statutes [exit DNR] and licensing and registration laws are found in NR 146, Wisconsin Administrative Code [exit DNR]. These laws ensure that well professionals who play an important role in protecting Wisconsin’s valuable groundwater resource have the proper experience, knowledge and training. The process and requirements to apply for a license or registration are provided here.

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

General information

  • Application process: License and registration application processes are detailed in the sections below. Requirements vary by license and registration so be sure to refer to the appropriate section before applying.
  • License exams: License exams evaluate an applicant’s knowledge of current regulations and industry practices. A passing grade on the exam is required for each license type.
    • Exam application: Since the start of the pandemic, exam applications have not been accepted and the regularly scheduled exams have not been offered. However, the department is accepting requests from those who urgently need to take a license exam. An “Urgent Exam Request Form” has been prepared for this purpose. Individuals with urgent license needs should complete this form and submit it to DNROpCert@wisconsin.gov. Requests are reviewed weekly by the department and granted according to need.
    • Exam format: Use of Wisconsin Administrative Code as an “open-book” reference is allowed during the exam. You may bring your own copies of code to the exam with highlights and margin notes, but you will not be allowed to take these copies with you when you leave. If you do not bring copies of code with you, they will be provided at request before the exam. No other “open book” reference is allowed during the exam.
      • You will need to bring a handheld calculator and number 2 pencils.
      • Exam questions are true/false and multiple-choice.
      • Time allowed for exam completion is three hours.
      • A score of 75 percent or higher is needed to pass the exam.
    • Study guides: Exam questions have been taken from study guide and administrative code content. Diligent use of the study guide and administrative code in exam preparation will greatly increase the likelihood of a passing grade. Study guide Part 1 “Administrative Codes” lists what is in code and why it is important. Part 2 “General Knowledge” covers key knowledge concepts that a licensed pump installer or driller is expected to know.
  • License term and renewal: Initial licenses or registrations expire on December 31 of the calendar year in which they were issued. An annual renewal form and fee are required by January 1 of each year in order to continue the license or registration without lapse. A license that lapses for more than one year without renewal is considered expired. An individual whose license has expired will need to resubmit an application (with fee) and retake the exam.
  • Continuing education: Annual attendance at continuing education is required in order to renew a license or registration for the upcoming year. See the continuing education page for more information.

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Pump installer license

  • Qualifications: To qualify for a Wisconsin pump installer license, an applicant is required to pass a license exam. No experience is required to apply for the exam.
  • Exam application: To begin the process of obtaining a Wisconsin pump installer license, refer to the study guide and prepare for the exam. A practice exam is included that will assist in determining if more preparation is needed before applying for the exam. Refer to the exams page for upcoming exam dates and the exam application form.
  • Pump installer license exam: The pump installer license exam is “open code”. Copies of NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 may be brought to the exam for reference. No other reference materials will be allowed. When preparing for the exam, focus on the study guide and administrative code provided below.
  • License issuance: A results letter will be mailed following the exam. If the result is a passing grade, a new license card will accompany the exam results letter. Note: A newly-licensed individual working for a pump installer business must submit a business registration application and fee for the business if the business has not already been registered.
  • For more information on Pump installer licensing:
    • Submit an email request to DNROPCERT@wisconsin.gov for information related to:
      • Changes to personal or business contact information
      • License renewal
      • Continuing education attendance and status
      • 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
      • Code related pump installer licensing issues

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Water well driller license

  • Qualifications: To qualify for a Wisconsin water well driller license, the applicant is required to pass a license exam. The applicant must meet specific experience and training requirements before exam eligibility is granted by the department. Refer to the Water Well Driller Licensing and Registration Flow Chart to view the steps required to reach exam eligibility status.
    The requirements include:
    1. Registration: For drilling experience to apply towards NR 146 requirements, a rig operator must register and work under the supervision of a Wisconsin licensed water well driller. See Drilling rig operator registrations for information on how to apply.
    2. Complete the 2-year rig operator experience period requirements of NR 146.04(2)(a & b).
    3. Complete the 3-month notification period requirements of NR 146.04(2)(cm).
    4. Submit a completed Water Well Driller License Application Form 3300-014I and Experience Voucher Form 3300-093.
    5. Complete 33 hours of specific training as required in NR 146.04(2)(h).
    • NOTE: 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 required: Starting January 1st of 2020, rig operators who apply for a water well drilling license must attend 33 hours of training as required under NR 146.04(2)(h):
    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
    • For information on how to get started with rig operator training requirements, email an information request to DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov.
  • Exam application: The department reviews well driller license applications for completeness and compliance. When an application is approved, the department issues a “notice of exam eligibility” and provides an exam application to the applicant. Information on dates and locations of upcoming exams is available online at the exams page. Exam applications must be mailed to the department with a $50 application fee and postmarked no later than 28 days prior to the exam date
  • License exam and study guide: The water well driller license exam is “open code”. Copies of NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 may be brought to the exam for reference. No other reference materials will be allowed. When preparing for the exam, focus on the study guide and administrative code provided below.
  • License issuance: Following the license exam, a results letter is mailed to the applicant. If the result is a passing grade, a license card and certificate is sent to regional department field staff. Department field staff will arrange to meet with the newly licensed individual to review and sign a list of compliance expectations and to issue the license.
  • Questions related to the Wisconsin water well driller license application process can be directed by email to the DNR at DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov

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Heat exchange driller license

  • Qualifications: To qualify for a Wisconsin heat exchange driller license, the applicant is required to pass a license exam. The applicant must meet specific experience and training requirements before license exam eligibility is granted by the department. Steps required for license exam eligibility include:
    1. Registration: For drilling experience to apply towards NR 146 requirements, a rig operator must register and work under the supervision of a Wisconsin licensed heat exchange driller. See Drilling rig operator registrations for information on how to apply.
    2. Complete 2-year experience period requirements of NR 146.04(9a)(1 & 2).
    3. Complete the 3-month notification period requirements of NR 146.04(9a)(5).
    4. Submit a completed Heat Exchange Driller License Application Form 3300-300 and Experience Voucher Form 3300-301.
    5. Complete training requirements of NR 146.04(9)(a)9.
    • NOTE: Applicants who hold a heat exchange 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
  • Exam application: The department reviews heat exchange driller license applications for completeness and compliance. When an application is approved, the department issues a “notice of exam eligibility” and provides an exam application to the applicant. Information on dates and locations of upcoming exams is available online at the exams page. Exam applications must be mailed to the department with a $50 application fee and postmarked no later than 28 days prior to the exam date.
  • License exam and study guide: The heat exchange driller license exam is “open code”. Copies of NR 146 and NR 812 may be brought to the exam for reference. No other reference materials will be allowed. When preparing for the exam, focus on the study guide and administrative code provided below:
  • License issuance: Following the heat exchange driller license exam, a results letter is mailed to the applicant. If the result is a passing grade, a license card and certificate is sent to regional department field staff. Department field staff will arrange to meet with the newly licensed driller 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 heat exchange driller license application process can be directed by email to the DNR at DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov

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Business registrations

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Drilling rig operator registrations

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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 or be employed by and working under the supervision of a license holder. To perform heat exchange drillhole filling and sealing, an individual must either hold a heat exchange driller license or be employed by and working under the supervision of a heat exchange driller.

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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. It is not permissible to perform inspections under the supervision of a licensed individual. For more information, see Property Transfer Well Inspections.

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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.

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