California Contractors License FAQs

Obtaining your California Contractors Licens FAQs

1. You can do jobs that are over $499.99.
2. You can take the customer to court if you are not paid. (Without a license, a contract of $500 or more is considered illegal.)
3. You can legally advertise your construction business.
4. You can pull building permits.
5. You are eligible for special discounts from many material suppliers.
6. You can join builders’ associations that offer job boards, plan rooms, and group insurance.

The classifications are broken down into 4 categories.

1) A-General Engineering
2) B-General Building
3) C-Specialty classes
4) D-Limited Specialty classes​

At least four years of journey level experience obtained within the previous 10 years is required to qualify for the exam. Credit is given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee or contractor or a combination of experience and education.

You may still qualify by substituting apprenticeship or technical training or other education for work experience. For example, you could receive a credit of up to two years for a college degree from any four year college.  Sealed transcripts would need to be submitted with the application.

You ask someone in the building trades (foreman, supervisor, journeyman, fellow employee, or business associate) who has direct knowledge of your work to act as your Certifier and sign a “work cert” (Certification of Work Experience). You do not need a work cert for each and every job, just an overview of your experience that is trade specific. One person may sign for all four years of required experience if they have first hand knowledge of that experience.

Yes! But be prepared to show proof of your experience. Check out my blog post discussing how the CSLB is reviewing/investigating more and more applications that submit self-employed experience.

Yes. O/B experience is reviewed separately to evaluate the amount of experience time you will be granted.  On average, the time you are granted is at least ¾ to 1/2 of what you submitted. There are some insider tips to filling out the project list that I would be happy to assist you with through my application review service. Click here to view my post that discusses O/B experience further.

The application will be returned with a letter asking you to supply additional information or make corrections. You will have 90 days to comply with the letter.

Yes. The qualifying person must pass the Law & Business and Trade exams, unless he or she meets the requirements for a waiver of either one or both exams. You will have three hours to complete each exam.

If this is your first license, you will take two exams: the Law and Business exam and the Trade exam. Everyone takes the same Law and Business exam. Those who take a Trade exam will be tested on their specific trade classification (e.g., general building, plumbing, electrical, etc).

The Law and Trade exams are scored separately, and you can take either exam as many times as necessary over 18 months (at $60 per retake). If you don’t pass within 18 months, you have to reapply. If you passed one of the exams it still counts for up to 5 years and would not need to be taken again during that 5 year period.

Yes. Unless the entity has no employees, then a certificate of exemption can be filed with the Board. *The law now requires that roofing contractors must have W/C whether or not you have employees.

The application filing fee is $330, the Initial License Fee is $200. Both of these fees can be paid when the application is submitted. Or pay the $330 filing fee with the application, and the $200 fee after you pass your exams. If the applicant chooses to remove his or her application after submittal, only the Initial License Fee will be refunded.

No. You need a license number before you can apply for an additional classification.  If you want to apply for an additional classification, you can do that after your license has been issued.  Also, you cannot have two applications in the system even if they are different, i.e. Exam app and Waiver app.

Yes. The CSLB has reciprocity agreements with Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Louisiana. It is possible to get a CA license if you hold a license in one of these states by only having to take the CA Law & Business exam. One requirement, you must have been licensed in the other State for a minimum of 5 out of the last 7 years in good standing.

It is a misdemeanor in California.  The fines can range from $200 to $15,000, and you'd have to appear in court. Also, a citation would be issued that would remain at the Board for up to 10 years. So if or when you apply for your license, your application will be delayed for an extended period of time while they review the circumstances of the citation.

Yes. Fingerprints are required for all new applications, adding officers to an existing license, replacing the qualifier, etc.  Fingerprinting processing times vary greatly between the two reporting agencies (FBI/DOJ), but it can take between 2-6 weeks for fingerprint reports to be sent to the CSLB.

The CSLB wants to see that at least three years have passed since the conviction or release from active parole for any misdemeanor, and at least seven years since the conviction or release from active parole for any felony.

RMO or Responsible Managing Officer is the qualifier for the license and may or may not hold any ownership in the company. An RME or Responsible Managing Employee is the qualifier for the license and may not hold any ownership in the company.

Yes. An RMO can be the qualifier on up to 3 corporate or LLC licenses in any 12 month period as long as he or she holds at least 20% ownership in each company. Do you need an RMO or would you like to be an RMO on another license? Click here.

No. An RME can only qualify one license at a time. He or she may have a Sole Owner license but it must be inactive while the person is acting as an RME on another license.

Yes. An individual can have as several sole owner contractors licenses.

Yes. An individual can be an RMO on another license as long as he or she holds at least 20% or more of the company.

  1. The differences between these entities are that when a license is issued to a Corporation, it belongs to the Corporation. Qualifiers and Officers can come and go, but the license belongs to the Corporation.  It is the same for an LLC. Managers, members, and qualifiers can come and go.
  2. The Sole Owner license does not have the protection that a Corporation has, but the license belongs to the individual.
  3. A Partnership requires at least two members. A Qualifying Partner and a General Partner. If either partner leaves the company, the Partnership License will be automatically cancelled.

Read my blog post comparing corporations to sole proprietorships.

Yes. Contractors are allowed to form LLC’s.  An LLC license has an additional bonding and insurance requirement.  They have to carry a $100,000 Worker/Surety bond and at least a $1,000,000 General Liability policy.  The License Guru is a licensed insurance broker and can provide you with quotes for these items. DOI #0E82246

In addition to the standard $15,000 contractor’s license bond, contractors formed as limited liability companies (LLC’s) are required to obtain a $100,000 Employee/Worker Surety Bond.

A $100,000 surety bond is required for the issuance of both active and inactive licenses, reissuance, reinstatement, reactivation, and renewal of an LLC license for the benefit of any employee or worker damaged by the LLC’s failure to pay wages, interest on wages, or fringe benefits, as well as other contributions (not required for inactive LLC licenses). (Business and Professions [B&P] Code section 7071.6.5)

The 100,000 employee worker bond can cost between $2000 and $5000 per year and are based on credit.  We'd be happy to provide you with a quote.

Yes, the Business and Professions Code states:

(a) A licensee shall not use any business name that indicates the licensee is qualified to perform work in classifications other than those issued for that license, or any business name that is incompatible with the type of business entity licensed.

Click here for additional information regarding advertising for contractors.

No. State law prohibits advertising that you are bonded or insured.

No. You can not advertise, offer, or enter into a contract to perform services for a classification that you do not hold.

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