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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. 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 the driller and pump installer 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.

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

    An eligible applicant can submit a request for a licensing exam by completing the “Urgent Exam Request Form”.

    Exam format

    Multiple choice and true/false questions are taken from objectives listed in Part 1 and Part 2 of the study guide. Study guide “Part 1 - Administrative Code” includes key knowledge objectives taken from chapters NR 812, NR 146 and NR 811. What is in these chapters and why it is important is provided. Study guide Part 1 and these chapters of code are the only references needed to prepare for code related exam questions. Study guide “Part 2 - General Knowledge” lists key knowledge objectives that a Wisconsin licensed driller or 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 questions.

    • Open book references: Chapters NR 812, NR 146 and NR 811 can be referred to during the exam. These are the only open book references allowed. Personal copies of code with highlighting and handwritten notes are allowed for in-person proctored exams, however code references with handwritten notes (notes written before or during the exam) will be forfeited to the proctor immediately following the exam and will be retained by the department. You are advised to make an additional personal copy before taking the exam if handwritten notes are used. When an exam is taken online with a remote proctor, digital copies of code are made available for reference. Personal hard copies of code cannot be used when an exam is online and proctored remotely.
    • 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.
  • 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 renew and continue the license or registration without lapse. A license that lapses for more than one year without renewal 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. Continuing education credits allocated to an individual’s attendance record over the past three years can be accessed at the Continuing Education Status Portal. See 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: A passing grade on the pump installer license exam is required. There are no experience requirements for exam eligibility.
  • 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. When ready, submit an exam request by completing the “Urgent Exam Request Form”.
  • Pump installer license exam: : Refer to “General Information” for important exam format information. Chapters NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 may be referred to during the exam. No other open book references are allowed. Links to the administrative code references needed for the exam are 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.
  • 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
      • 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: A passing grade on the license exam is required before a Water Well Driller license is issued. Eligibility to take the license exam is granted when it is determined that training and experience requirements of NR 146 have been met. Steps towards attaining exam eligibility are listed in the Water Well Driller License Application Flow Chart
    1. Rig operators must be registered with the department before drilling experience accrues and is applicable towards NR 146 license application requirements. All drilling must be done 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
  • Rig operator training available: Access to training continues to be developed 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.
    • Training availability:
      • Wisconsin Well Codes: Six hours of on-demand Wisconsin Well Codes training is currently available to Wisconsin registered drilling rig operators. Select a session below and click the link to register for the training.
        • 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: Three hours of in-person training on the geology of Wisconsin is under development and the department expects this training to be available by fall of 2021. The following topics will be covered:
        • 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
  • For more information, or to get started with rig operator training requirements, email an information request to DNRDGLICENSING@wisconsin.gov.
  • Water well driller license exam requests: “Notice of Exam Eligibility” must be granted before water well driller license applicants can take the exam. The department reviews these applications for completeness and compliance and Notice of Exam Eligibility is granted when NR 146 training and experience requirements have been met and the application is approved. An eligible applicant can submit a request for the licensing exam by completing the “Urgent Exam Request Form”.
  • License exam and study guide: Refer to “General Information” for important exam format information. Chapters NR 146, NR 812 and NR 811 may be referred to during the exam. No other open book references are allowed. Links to the administrative code references needed for the exam are 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
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
  • Heat exchange driller license exam requests: “Notice of Exam Eligibility” must be granted before heat exchange driller license applicants can take the exam. The department reviews these applications for completeness and compliance and “Notice of Exam Eligibility” is granted when NR 146 training and experience requirements have been met. An eligible applicant can submit a request for the licensing exam by completing the “Urgent Exam Request Form”.
  • License exam and study guide: Refer to “General Information” for important exam format information. Chapters NR 146 and NR 812 may be referred to during the exam. No other open book references are allowed. Links to the administrative code references needed for the exam are 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
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.