Getting your contractors license

Who Needs a California Contractor’s License & What Kinds Are There?

In California, anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for labor and materials must hold a current, valid license from the CSLB.

The CSLB licenses contractors in 43 different classifications. This ranges from general contractors to swimming pool contractors, landscapers, painters, electricians, plumbers and many more.

Understanding the Difference Between a General and Specialty Contractor

General building contractors usually oversee projects and coordinate the specific licensed subcontractors for a job. Specialty or subcontractors are usually hired to perform a single job. For example, if you want only roofing or plumbing work, you may want to hire a contractor licensed in that particular specialty.

A general building contractor may also contract for specialty work, but must hold a specialty license for that work or actually have a specialty contractor do the work. The only exception is if the job requires more than two types of work on a building. Then it is appropriate for a licensed general building contractor to contract for and oversee the entire project. For example, if a kitchen remodeling will involve plumbing, electrical and carpentry work under one contract, one should hire a licensed general building contractor. Under these circumstances, a general building contractor may perform all of the work on a building or subcontract parts of the job to contractors with specialty licenses.

California Contractor’s License Requirements:

  • 4 years of experience (either as a worker or supervisor) on C-2 installation and acoustical projects
  • A college degree can be substituted for up to three years of that experience
  • Self-employed work in the same capacity will also be accepted

The first step in becoming licensed as a California state contractor is making sure that you are eligible to take the test and become certified. In California, there is a set of guidelines that have to be met before you can apply. First, you have to be at least 18 years of age and have had four years of construction experience within the last 10 years (or two years of work experience plus a four-year college degree).

There are also certain guidelines about the amount of working capital you have to have on hand, as well as your ability to be bonded. For most of the people we work with, however, passing the California State Contractor’s License Exam is the biggest hurdle, and the one that prevents some construction professionals from taking the next step in their career. With our 100% guarantee and 99% success rate, there is no need to fear taking the next step into the rest of your life. Your future of becoming a licensed contractor is now within reach.

General California Exam Information

The California licensed contractor exam actually consists of two parts: the business and law section, which contains 115 questions, and the specific trade section, which can have 100 120 questions. The test itself is multiple choice (no writing or essay answers needed) and is taken in person. Note that your California State Licensed Contractor Exam will be timed by a test monitor, but very few of our students struggle to finish within the 2.5 hours that are given.

Application Processing Time

Although it typically takes at least a month to receive a test date for the California State License Exam, some students are able to take the test in as little as two weeks. Once you have been assigned a date and have completed the exam, you will be given a pass/fail result right away in person, on the same date of the exam, along with some areas for improvement if you have not been successful.

Limited Specialty Classification Test (C-61)

If you are seeking a C-61 classification as a licensed California State contractor, you will be required to take the law and business portion of the exam only (with no trade section). Although this type of license is more limited, it can be a good option for those planning to work on only a handful of specific types of construction projects, or those who just want to get their business started. To find out about the restrictions that come with a C-61 contractor’s license, contact our school for more information.

For Out-of-State Contractors

Even if you are a licensed contractor in another state, you will still have to pass the California contractor’s exam to do business locally. However, there are some states with reciprocal agreements, allowing out-of-state contractors to become licensed without taking the trade portion of the exam (the business and law section is still required). To learn more about specific states and licensing requirements, contact us for more detailed questions and answers.

Testing Locations

California State Licensed Contractor Exams are administered during weekdays in Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, Fresno, Oxnard, Norwalk, San Bernardino and San Diego.

California contractor’s license fees
Original application (exam or waiver for one classification) $300
Initial license fee $180
Additional classification $75
Re-examination $60

Test locations:

– Sacramento
– Oakland
– San Jose
– Fresno
– Oxnard
– Norwalk
– San Bernardino
– San Diego