how to get a california contractors license

The California State License Board (CSLB) licenses contractors in the state of California.

You must get licensed if you construct, alter, or offer to construct or alter any of the following:

• Building
• Road
• Highway
• Railroad
• Parking facility
• Excavation
• Other structure

In California (apart from federal projects in California) a person must be licensed by the CSLB if the total cost of materials and labor under one or more contracts of a project is $500 or more.

California contractor licenses are available in over 40 contractor classifications.

Eligibility for the California Contractor License

The basic qualifications for obtaining a California Contractor License are:

• At least 18 years of age
• Have a valid Social Security number
• Show proof of experience and skill necessary to manage the activities of a construction business, or being represented by another qualifying individual with the necessary experience or skills.

Out of state individuals can apply for a California Contractor License if they meet the qualifications. Several states have reciprocity agreements with California which makes it easier to get a license.

How to get a California Contractors License

Step #1: Determine your California Contractor License classification

  • Class A: General Engineering Contractor
  • Class B: General Building Contractor
  • Class C: Specialty Contractor (which contains 41 separate licenses)

For a full explanation of class licenses, visit the Contractor License Classification Section.

Step #2: Apply for original exam by completing the following steps

CSLB Headquarters
Contractors State License Board
P.O. Box 26000
Sacramento, CA 95826-0026

Be sure you submit your application on an updated form. CSLB will only accept licenses on the updated 2017 forms.

Do not submit anything else with your application. Simply mail the above paperwork and fee to the CSLB headquarters.

Then, move onto Step #3.

If you DO NOT require an examination because you meet the general qualifications, view Steps To Get Licensed Without An Exam.

Step #3: Wait for the CSLB to send you a letter of acknowledgement

This letter will contain two important numbers: an application fee number and a 4-digit PIN number.

You can use these two numbers to check the status of your California Contractor License application.

  • If your California Contractor License application is denied (because of insufficient or incomplete) information, you will have the chance to resubmit your application with the missing information included.
  • If your California Contractor License application is approved, you will receive:
    • Fingerprinting Live Scan packet
    • Notice to Appear for Examination

Step #4: Complete the fingerprinting scan packet and take examination

View fingerprinting scan packet.

About the examination: There is a written law and business examination and a specific trade examination. Examinations are 3 ½ hours and are multiple choice.

Step #5: Upon passing the examination, you will be notified of the final items you must submit:

  • Licensing fee of $200
  • Proof of Worker’s Compensation Insurance
  • $15,000 California Contractor License Bond

Step #6: Purchase California Contractor License Bond

Purchase a bond from a licensed surety bond provider.

The bond amount is set at $15,000.

The price you pay for your bond will generally be between 1-15% of the total bond amount ($150 – $2,250)

The best way to see what you’d pay for your bond is to get a free quote:

Get free CA Contractor Bond quotes ($15,000 Bond)

If you are needing a bond to renew an already-active license, reactivate your license, or maintain an actively renewed license, you might only need a $12,500 bond. You can get a free quote for that bond amount below:

Get a free CA Contractor Bond quote ($12,500 Bond)

Step #7: Submit

Submit proof of Worker’s Compensation Insurance, original bond, and licensing fee to the CSLB.

You should get your CA Contractor License wall certificate and pocket card within one week after your license is issued.

CA Contractor Licenses are valid for 2 years.

For further information, visit the CSLB apply for a contractors license page.


Related Posts:

How to Get Your Contractor’s License in Oregon

How to Get Your Contractor’s License in Washington

General Contractor License Guide – Resources to get licensed

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