Can Anyone Obtain a General Contractor’s License?

Asking for a friend? Only kidding – if you’re here, you’re probably wondering who is and is not eligible for locking down a general contractor’s license.

It makes sense that so many people want to be a general contractor. This lucrative career path involves overseeing large construction projects that can reap huge rewards for contractors – providing a way for you to grow your career and business now and in the future.

Before we dive in too deep, feel free to review our Getting Your Contractor License run-down as well as our How To Get Your Contractor License with No Experience explainer – these will give you a good base to start from when we look at who is eligible for a general contractor’s license.

The first thing you’ve probably already figured out is that you are not qualified for this license until you’re 18 years old. But can anyone who is over 18 apply and secure a general contractor’s license? Let’s get into it.

What is a General Contractor’s License?

Any construction or alteration project that costs more than $500 in labor to complete requires, at the very least, a Class B General Building Contractor License according to California state law.

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issues general contractor licenses to individuals, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies, and joint ventures who are legally approved to work on building construction and home improvement projects.

With this license in hand, construction professionals can manage and oversee construction work, ensuring compliance with building codes and safety regulations all while meeting the industry standard of the day.

Requirements for General Contractor’s License

Education and Training
To qualify for a general contractor’s license, you actually don’t need to meet any specific education requirements. That’s great news for those of us whose favorite subject in school was recess.

However, the CSLB does require four years of experience working in construction expertise for everyone who wants this license. Up to three of those four years may be covered by technical training, apprenticeship training, or education, but you need at least one year of on-the-job experience.

At least one year, however, must be actual, practical, on-the-job experience. You’ll have to be ready to provide written proof of any training or education that you completed in place of hands-on work experience in construction.

Exam
The CSLB cannot issue a general contractor license to you until you pass the CSLB exam. Preparing for and passing this exam is a screening process of sorts, ensuring only contractors who know their stuff are allowed through.

Beyond the construction basics, the CSLB exam guarantees you are someone who is knowledgeable enough about construction laws, building codes, project management, and safety regulations to work as a general contractor.

One important piece of this requirement is the whole process of getting fingerprinted/doing a live scan. It is during this stage that the CSLB will perform a criminal background check.

If you’re wondering about whether or not a felon can get a contractor’s license in California, the short answer is yes, they can. We explore the topic in greater detail in our post here, so if you’re a felon looking to get your contractor’s license, check it out.

Luckily for people with a criminal record who have served their time – the CSLB rejects less than 1% of contractors who have been convicted of a crime.

Insurance, Bonding, and Financial Stability
The road to becoming a general contractor is not cost-free.

One way or another, anyone applying for a contractor’s license needs to know the full scope of costs that come along with it. A good contractor will not only arm themselves with the information they need to get and maintain their license, but they will create a plan so that they can cover application fees and also insurance coverage, and contractor’s bonds.

In some states, contractors have to provide proof of their insurance coverage as well as financial statements that prove they can afford insurance. In California, you need proof of workers’ comp insurance as well as a contractor’s bond (aka a surety bond) in the amount of $25,000.

When aiming to become a licensed contractor in the most budget-savvy way, check out our guide for How to Obtain a Contractor License with Minimal Fees.

Conclusion

When it comes to getting a contractor’s license, the barrier to entry is not as high as some might think. Nearly everyone who has taken an interest in construction work can attain this goal.

It takes time, focus, and dedication to complete the training and to pass the exam. There are significant financial obligations involved, like covering insurance, bonding, license application fees, and eventually the cost of renewing the license.

But considering what a satisfying and lucrative career journey a general contractor’s license can offer a person, it’s easy to see that the investment is well worth it. Check out our guide on general contractors’ licenses for more information.