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Obtaining a Contractor's License in California
California requires explicitly four years of experience before you can take the required contractor's license exam. These four years are mandatory, even if you have some experience.
There's a possibility of receiving credit for these four years if you have:
- Completed technical training
- Had education on contracting
- Been an apprentice
However, these count as credit only if they are equal to the four years of experience required. Additionally, this experience must be the supervisor level or above.
Formal education isn't mandatory to take the contractor's exam. However, it may help as credit toward the four years of experience required. Even with extensive education, at least one year of experience is obligatory. You can find further information on the www.cslb.ca.gov site.
If you've had a license in another state OR if the Board decides to take your 4+ years of experience for trade, you still have to:
- Apply for the license
- Pass the law section of the exam
- Pass the business section of the exam
- Pay the fees
(If you're looking for specific information on Reciprocity with other states, you'll find it later on this page.)
The law in the state of California requires any individual or business to have a license if they alter a structure, such as highways, roads, parking facilities, etc.. The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) must issue this license. Also, the license is mandatory if the entire job amounts to $500 or more, including materials, tools, and labor.
Failure to have a contractor's license while doing work in California can result in severe penalties. Misdemeanors can range from a $500 penalty to jail time. Other administrative fees may range from $200 to $15,000. Penalties vary depending on the infraction.
As you can see, no matter what, you'll have to take the exam. So, do you still have the desire to be a contractor in California? Be sure to answer this question for yourself before you start stacking up the truck with tools. It's a big commitment that requires studying, follow-through, and completion.
What You Can Expect From Us
At Contractor Training Center, we've committed to helping you with every step of the journey of obtaining your license. It's a big commitment, but after it's all said and done, you'll be glad you crossed your Ts to have your license and get to work. You'll be handling important work, so it's vital to be compliant with the state's requirements for you to be a safe contractor. We aim to make the process of applying and obtaining your license as easy and stress-free as possible.Contact us
The Benefits of Having a Contractor's License in California
One benefit to note is that once you become a licensed contractor in California, you don't have to live in the state. But, if you'll be bidding for jobs in California, you must have your contractor's license before you bid.
Gives You Flexibility
This benefit gives you the flexibility to work and live in other states, especially if the work slows down in California. It also means that you can do seasonal work. Just remember that even only to bid, you must have your license. Severe penalties can occur otherwise.
Builds Trust with Your Clients
Another notable benefit is the trust you build with your clients. Your license shows you took the time and invested in a requirement of the state. It also demonstrates you're not "working under the table." You've made an effort, and you're giving your clients peace of mind by being certified. It's essential to show your clients that they're working with a professional.
Additionally, a license opens the doors to bigger jobs. Clients with big jobs tend to select contractors with licenses because of the liability of the size of the job.
How to Get a Contractor's License in California
If you're a brand-new contractor in need of examinations and no experience with trade, you'll need to apply for an "Application for Original Contractor License." You can find this application on the https://www.cslb.ca.gov site. This form is for all new applicants of various business entity types looking for a new license.
To make it easier, here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Fill the Application
Fill out the application from the Contracts State Licensure Board. You can:
1. Fill out the form online (be sure to have enough time to complete it in one sitting);
2. Print the PDF form, fill it, and mail it in; or
3. Ask to receive a blank form via mail, and then mail it back.
Step 2: Pay the Fee
Be ready with a processing fee of $250. You can pay via check or money order and mail to the Sacramento office:
Contractors State License Board
9821 Business Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95827
You also can pay by cash with exact change or with a major credit card.
Note: If you want to make payment in the Norwalk, Fresno, and San Diego offices, these offices accept all major credit cards but not cash.
You don't have to turn in any additional documentation or fees with your application.
However, after completion of your exam, you'll have to pay the Licensure Fee and turn in other documentation such as:
- Proof of Worker's Comp Insurance
- Contracts Bond
Step 3: Decide What Type of License Your Business Needs
You can add additional classifications to your license as dictated by your experience. The State of California has three different classifications:
Class" A" – General Engineering Contractor
- This license is in connection with "fixed works," which require specialized engineer knowledge (read the full description here).
Class "B" – General Building Contractor
- This license is for structures built for support or enclosure (read the full description here).
Class "C" – Specialty Contractor
- This license requires special skills (read the full description here).
Which Exam Should You Take?
The answer depends on what you're looking to do. If you're unsure or concerned you may not choose the correct exam, Contractor Training Center can assist. Give us a call at (888) 585-7350. We'll help you determine this first step.
Taking the Exam
After your application has gone through processing and acceptance, you'll receive a "Notice to Appear for Examination." This notice will include important information that you'll need before heading out for your exam.
Preparing for the Contractor's Exam
Before appearing to take the exam, be sure you adequately prepare yourself. You'll have to take the exam plus the Standard Law and Business exam. Additionally, if you've applied for a specific certification, be ready to take that exam as well. Examinations tend to be multiple choice.
If you're a contractor who works with asbestos or hazardous materials, you'll be subject to additional requirements, including safety, reporting, and certification. You'll also need to undergo more exams and training (and complete other applications if you hadn't completed them yet). Only then will you be eligible to receive your certification.
As stated before, you'll need at least four years of experience before you can take the exam. But remember, these years of experience only count if the experience is at the level of a supervisor or higher. This experience doesn't mean the exam will be a breeze! You still have to prepare.
What Other Applications Are There?
If you're not looking for the "Application for Original Contractor License," the following are some of the other options you have:
- Application for Original Contractor License Examination Waiver (if eligible)
- Application for Joint Venture License
- Application for Additional Classification
- Application for Replacing the Qualifying Individual
- Application for Asbestos Certification
- Application for Hazardous Substance Removal and Remedial Actions Certification
And there's more. If you're thinking of applying for any of the above or the application you're seeking isn't here, contact Contractor Training Center. Because the application process can be cumbersome and confusing, Contractor Training Center offers a service called Contractor License Application Fulfillment Service. This service:
- Includes a consulting service even before you apply
- Assists you in filling out the correct forms
- Assists you in submitting your forms to the state licensing agency
- Reviews the application before submitting to ensure you've filled out all information properly
- Helps with appeal and re-application in case of rejection of the application
If you prefer to speak to someone on the phone first, call us at (888) 585-7350. One of our representatives will be happy to give you more information about our application fulfillment service.
California and "Reciprocity" with the Other States
The State of California shares Reciprocity with the following states:
If you're applying for a Reciprocal License in California, you must hold a license in any of these classifications:
- Class B- General Residential Contractor License
- Class B-1- General Commercial Contractor License
- Class B-2- General Small Commercial Contractor License
- Class B- 3- General Remodeling and Repair Contractor License
- Class B- General Building Contractor License
- Class B100- General Building Contractor License
- Class R100- Residential and Small Commercial Contractor License
What Are the Requirements of Reciprocity?
Besides holding a license in one of the respective state classifications above, to qualify for Reciprocity, you must:
- Hold a license in Arizona, Nevada or Utah in good standing and for the past five years
- Complete the application for CSLB and submit it, along with the corresponding fees
- Fill and submit a Request for Verification of License form. You'll see this form consists of two sections. Top and bottom.
o Use the top to complete your portion of the information
o Give the bottom of the form to the contracting licensing agency of your reciprocal state (Arizona, Nevada, Utah) to fill out and complete.
- Contractors still must pass the California exam administered by the CSLB. The CSLB will issue the "Notice to Appear" along with study materials. The exam's sections are as follows:
o Business and Law
o Trade-In some cases, the CSLB may waive this portion of the exam if the applicant meets all the requirements.
Contact Contractor Training Center Today
As you can see from all the information provided on this page, applying to get your California Contractor's License can be a monumental task — a task you don't have to do alone. At Contractor Training Center, we specialize in helping contractors with the application and education they need to obtain the license. Contact us today! We'll help you make this process easy and stress-free.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Not at this time.
Typically, after two years on the last day of the month when you acquired it.
You can register your company with California
Secretary of State at:
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
You can find the forms required at the California Secretary of State website under their forms page.
You can also do this at the Secretary of State site under their business search lookup.
You must get a 72% or higher.