Contractor’s Licensing Schools

Contractors License Schools - CSLB Exam Prep Study Materials

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of contractor’s licensing schools.

I’m not referring to any one specific contractor’s licensing school, just the overall contractor’s license school method.  And before we get into the pros and cons, let’s define the word “school.”  They really aren’t schools because they aren’t teaching anything, they are showing people how to take an exam.  They aren’t an accredited learning institution, and their customers don’t go to them to learn their specific trades. So, the word school is a misnomer.

Pros and Cons

Starting with the pros list, only because it’s shorter.

They offer an in-class system where people can go spend 8 hours studying the materials that were shipped to their home or office.  That’s the one pro, if you can even call it that.  Some people think they need to sit in front of an “instructor” to absorb the information contained within the written manuals.

Now the cons.

The biggest con is that their study materials are sub-standard.  I only know this because many of their customers come to me after they’ve failed their exams using the schools study materials.

Next, their customers are just a number to them.  They don’t provide personal attention to every student.  It’s all about how many people can they get signed up.

They don’t personally and professionally prepare their customers applications.  They let the customer complete the app, which results in a large percentage of rejected applications by the cslb.

To my knowledge, they don’t employ anyone who has worked at the CSLB in any capacity.  Obviously, this is not a requirement to run a business, but if you don’t know how things work on the inside, how can you properly inform your clients?

Often, provide incorrect information and/or provide bad advice.  I hear from people all the time who were told something by a school that is incorrect.  Or they suggest a path for the applicant to take that will surely end in a rejection of their application.  And put them in a position where they can’t undo what has been done regarding their app or their experience.

Many of the schools offer guarantees, and I’m using that word lightly.  Some of their guarantees require the applicant to fail the exams several times, and each time the applicant is required to go back to the classroom or study additional practice questions.  It’s not until they’ve jumped through any number of hoops that the customer is even considered for a refund of the fees they’ve paid.  Which could be $1000 or more!

What about their instructors?

Their “instructors” are not always coming from the trades or the construction industry.  Often, they are coming from an educational background, teachers, etc.  If they have 30 people in their classroom, and of those 30, 15 trades are represented, what are the chances that the person standing in the front of the room is well versed in those 15 trade classifications? Slim to none.  You may be applying for a C-11 Elevator contractor’s license.  Do you think that guy in the front of the room knows anything about elevators except that they go up and down?  Extremely doubtful!

So, there are the pros and cons of contractor’s licensing schools.  As you can see, there are far more cons then there are pros.  When looking for CSLB exam study materials or a system that will get you ready for your exams, look for someone who has experience in construction, has worked for the CSLB, and offers the highest quality exam preparation study materials!  Look for The License Guru!!

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CSLB self-employed project list

UPDATE January 28, 2019

The cslb is requiring that ALL self employed B-General Building applicants provide the project list forms AND PERMITS!!!!

If you provide a project list form and there is NO PERMIT accompanying it, the cslb will NOT give you credit for that experience!

Seems just about the time they are moving forward, they go out of their way to find another way to deny people.  They’re not in the licensing business, they’re in the denial business.

I just waiting for someone wearing a crown to walk out on the balcony and shout … LET THEM EAT CAKE!!!

NOTICE… CSLB self-employed project list forms now required!CSLB self-employed project list target

That’s what I just heard from within the CSLB.

The CSLB is asking applicants who apply for the B-General Building license classification using self-employed experience to also complete project list forms to prove their experience.

Self-employed experience has been accepted by the CSLB for many many years, but they’ve never really liked it. If they had their way, the only acceptable experience would be that of an employee of a contractor. But that’s not realistic.

So, what do they do? In recent years, they created their profiling list and targeted specific classifications. Now they’re asking applicants to complete who knows how many project list forms, the CSLB won’t say, to cover the minimum four years of experience.

These CSLB self-employed project list forms can be labor intensive because the applicant must go back years to find the information required. How big was the project, how long was the project, how many contractors, sub-contractors, and laborers were used? If the applicant kept poor or no records of the work they’ve done, the task becomes even more daunting. Which then only leaves the applicant with the option of withdrawing their application, or “creating” the experience on the form. Here’s a secret… (which makes this process a complete joke) the cslb has no way to verify that the experience on the form is true and accurate, so someone could create project list forms that would make them sound like the world’s best contractor.

We all know the CSLB is a consumer protection agency, and they’ve always taken the side of the consumer by placing restrictions on those who wish to obtain a license. But to ask B-general building license applicants to jump through this hoop is a bit extreme. I don’t believe they ask C-10 electrical applicants, or C-20 HVAC applicants to complete and provide this form. So, it begs the question, is the CSLB truly looking to protect the consumer? Or just target specific applicants… again?!

Click here to view the CSLB self-employed project list form.

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Bad Contractors Licensing Information

Beware of bad contractors licensing information!

Isn’t everything on the internet true??   But seriously, you have to beware of bad contractors licensing information on the www.

I came across this webpage: https://generalcontractorlicenseguide.com/california-contractors-license/ and as I read through it, I kept finding bad, incorrect, erroneous information.  I started to make a list but when I got to about half of the article I gave up.  Just too many mistakes/errors, etc.

Bad Contractors Licensing InformationHere is some of the misinformation I found:

1) (CLSB) should be CSLB
2) “Applicants may be exempted from the exam if they have been actively working in the construction trades continuously for at least the past five years.” This is basically incorrect, but appears it might be referring to a specific exemption with specific conditions. Doing more research or talking to a licensing professional will let you know if you qualify for any type of waiver.
3) Experience must be “…certified by an individual who can speak to the quality of the applicant’s work.” Incorrect. The law only states that the certifier must have first hand knowledge of the experience being provided.  The certifier has nothing to do with the quality of the applicants work.
4) “The applicant’s experience must also be able to be verified via an official document, such as payroll slips, contracts, or something similar.” This is only true if the application is randomly pulled for a secondary review.
5) “Fee payments may be made by mailing a check or money order. In-person payments may also be made at the licensing headquarters by cash (exact amount only), check, money order, and credit card.”  The CSLB will not accept a credit card for application fees. The CSLB will accept credit/debit payments for license renewals, but not license apps.  And this can only take place at specific CSLB offices.

So, when researching information on how to obtain your contractors license, no matter what state you’re in, be careful of sites that were only created to make someone money by ad clicks placed throughout the page.  Their goal is not to provide you with accurate information, in fact, that goal may not even be on their list.  They just want you to click on ads and make them $$.

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General Building Experience

General Building Experience

General Building ExperienceAre you having trouble with your general building experience outline (or any trade outline)? Has the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) rejected your B general building application because your outline was not formatted properly?

An improperly formatted general building experience outline is a very common issue, and probably the number one reason why applications get rejected. The application requirements state that you must show experience in framing and at least two unrelated trades, i.e. HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Concrete, Painting, Drywall, etc. when applying for the B-General Building license.

What the CSLB does not want to see are administrative duties such as, pulling permits, signing contracts, hiring subs, reading blue prints, etc. They also don’t want to see specific projects. The experience outline should be a broad overview of what you do (either install or supervise) on the job site on a daily basis.

I was contacted by an applicant whose application was rejected because their experience was not properly formatted. I reviewed the outline, and although it did contain the necessary framing and two unrelated trades, the outline began with a detailed description of solar installations. While solar can be one of the two unrelated trades, beginning the outline with that suggests to the tech reviewing the app that that is the main focus of the experience. It also suggests that the CSLB tech is incapable of thinking out of the box. Either way, a properly formatted experience outline would include framing in the beginning.

I help a lot of people every week with their general building experience outlines. If you are having trouble with yours, or the CSLB has rejected your app, I do offer an application review service that will save you time, frustration, and cut through some red tape. Click here if you would like to have me review your application and/or experience outline, then email your application, work experience page, and/or the CSLB rejection letter to me and I’ll look it over.

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CSLB Employees of the Month

Today we are highlighting the outstanding efforts put forward by two CSLB employees who go above and beyond the call of stupidity.CSLB Employee of the Month

Employee #1 rejected an application because some of the experience provided went past the ten year limit. IF, the experience provided needed to include the time that went past the ten year limit, I could clearly see the need for the rejection.

But NO… the part of the experience submitted that did fall within the last ten years was sufficient to meet the CSLB’s 4 in 10 yr requirement. So why did this CSLB employee reject this application? Either this person is just flat out stupid, they are so completely anal that they can’t seem to get out of their own way, or they just prefer making more work for themselves. The jury is still out on that one.

Any way you slice it, total the amount of time the applicant provide that does fall within the ten year requirement and complete the processing of the application. Why put the applicant, who has been waiting many weeks for the CSLB to get through their ridiculous backlog only to have to wait more because the person reviewing his application is an imbecile.

Employee #2 rejected an LLC application because the LLC name (as filed with the Sect. of State) has the word “Construction” in it. Shocker, I know. A contractor wanting to use the word “Construction” in their business name! Call the cops… this person should be locked up! How dare they want to use the “C” word in their business name!

Here’s the catch… this company is applying for an A-Gen Engineering license. So the CSLB wants them to add Engineering to their business name. i.e. ABC Smith “Engineering” Construction LLC, instead of ABC Smith Construction LLC.

Am I the only one that finds this completely absurd?!?! Is the CSLB suggesting that A-Eng contractors (uh oh… another form of the “C” word) do not CONSTRUCT anything?!?!

And do they really think that any consumer with half a brain (which is more than some CSLB techs have) would be confused by this? They are making a lot of assumptions that are just not based in fact or reality.

Some things have changed for the good at the CSLB, but hiring/retaining stupid technicians is something that they’ll probably, most assuredly, never change.

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Do I have to submit an experience outline?

CSLB ExperienceI received an email today from a reader who was looking for an answer to this question:

Do I have to submit an experience outline with my application if I held the same classification over five years ago? The email stated:

Dear Mr. Cocciante:

Your Blog is a wonderful resource and I am happy I discovered it. I have a question I hope you can answer. Here is the scenario: Contractor fails to renew license, license expires, five years pass. Contractor must now apply for new a.k.a. Original License. Does Contractor need to complete and have Certification of Experience form signed? Per Bus. & Prof. Code 825(b) applicant “may compute experience without regard to the ten-year limitation.” So, essentially, Contractor may use the exact work experience used to obtain original license, and given that Contractor held license, clearly he has met the four-year minimum requirement … which leads me to the question of does Contractor need to include a Certification of Work Experience form?

I have read conflicting answers in another blog. One time they said the form was not required, another time they said it was. When I called the CSLB, a tech told me all Contractor needs to do is write “See License No. XXXX” on the Experience form; another tech had a different answer.

I’m hoping you have some insight for me. I very sincerely appreciate your time. Perhaps this topic may be a good one to blog about. I imagine I’m not the only one trying to figure this out. Plus, with the fires in Northern California, seems like a lot of guys are getting back into construction after having let their licenses expire.

Kind regards,
Jessica T.

My reply:

Hello Jessica,

Thank you for the kind words.

I can tell you as a former cslb application technician, and a service provider that deals with current application techs, that he would not need to submit his experience with a new application.

On the first page of the app it will ask him to provide any license he is/was associated with. The app tech will look up that license number to verify that he held the same classification previously that is being applied for now and will post the application to the exams.

Having said that, there is always a slim chance that they may ask for an experience outline and verifying documents (depending on the classification being applied for) for this type of application.

~End

Thank you Jessica for your email and allowing me to post it here. Questions from my readers are always welcomed.

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CSLB Home Improvement Salesperson Registration

The CSLB home improvement salesperson registration law will change on January 1, 2016.

Of all the laws and rules and regulations the CSLB could be working to change, they decided to do something about HIS registrations. What about the myriad of underground regulations the CSLB has created regarding the licensure of targeted classifications?

Press releases like the one below always appear (to me) to be more of a smoke screen than anything else. As if to say “Look at us and what we’re doing to fix a problem very few were aware of… but don’t worry about how we’re profiling a majority of license applications.”

A 1000 applications a month? Seriously? That prompted legislative action? It’s a one page app for goodness sake!

What it really comes down to is … what can the CSLB do to make it easier on themselves. It has nothing to do with any inconvenience on the part of the applicant. The CSLB makes it very clear to almost every applicant who contacts them that they (applicant) are not the priority. For example, emails unanswered, phone calls not returned, ambiguous answers to serious questions, etc.

But hey…. If the CSLB can reduce their workload by processing fewer HIS applications, then WOW… good for them!!

Governor Brown Signs Bill Changing CSLB’s Home Improvement Salesperson Registration Requirements

SACRAMENTO — Home improvement salespersons (HIS) that represent licensed contractors when selling goods and services soon will only have to register once with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Senate Bill 561 into law yesterday, simplifying the HIS registration process to a single registration while still allowing salespeople to represent multiple employers.

Anyone who solicits, sells, negotiates, or executes home improvement contracts for a licensed contractor outside of the contractor’s normal place of business must be registered with CSLB as an HIS (Business and Professions Code section 7153).

The law takes effect January 1, 2016, and removes the current requirement that an HIS register separately with CSLB for each contractor that employs them.

The bill, authored by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and sponsored by CSLB, will simplify and quicken the registration process in response to the rapid growth in the number of HIS applications, particularly for employees who work in the solar industry. CSLB received more than 1,000 HIS applications per month in fiscal year 2014-15, a 40 percent jump compared to the average for the previous three years.

In addition to the single registration provision, SB 561 will:
·         Require a contractor to notify CSLB in writing prior to employing a registered HIS, and when employment ceases;
·         Allow CSLB to accept an electronic application and signature from an HIS applicant;
·         Require an HIS to have a current and valid registration with CSLB before making sales calls and transactions on behalf of a contractor; and
·         Provide that registrations will be valid for two years from the month of issue.

CSLB staff is already at work putting systems in place for the new registration process. More information will be available in the weeks to come on CSLB’s website.

End press release

I would provide a link to this press release on the CSLB website, but apparently they send out press releases before updating their public website and there is no link for me to provide.

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5 Benefits of Becoming a Master Electrician

C10 Electrical California Contractors LicenseI found a great article on ElectricianTalk.com that discusses the benefits of becoming a Master Electrician. It provides some great advice and helpful information.

5 Benefits of Becoming a Master Electrician

Once you’ve worked as a journeyman electrician for a few years and gotten some skills under your belt, you may start to consider taking the tests to become a master electrician. The qualifying tests can be extremely difficult; some people take a month or more off work just to study for the tests.

Getting your license can seem like a full time job in itself, but it can definitely pay off in the end. The difference between journeyman and master can be seen on the job site, but the benefits of being a master also show before your first job as a master begins.

Professional Pride

If you take pride in a job well done, you’re probably the type of person who constantly tries to learn new and better ways to do your work. Leaning to do your job better can give you more confidence on the job. When you become a master electrician, you know you have the knowledge and experience to take on jobs most journeyman electricians can’t do. You can take pride in the knowledge that you’ve earned a special job designation and all its benefits through your hard work and gained knowledge.

Increased Income

While earning more on the job isn’t the only reason for becoming a master electrician, the typical raise in pay can help almost any budget. On average, journeyman electricians earn a little over $22 an hour as of July 2015. Master electricians, on the other hand, average almost $26 an hour. Masters have more responsibilities and have a more varied work schedule, but the raise in pay can be well worth the time and effort it takes to get the license. Depending on your company and the average pay in your part of the country, your pay can be much higher if your specialties are in high demand.

Professional Respect

On most job sites, a person who knows more techniques and can get the job done better is respected by his fellow crew members, especially if he shares this knowledge. Just knowing how hard it is to pass the master electrician’s tests will automatically cause most journeyman to give you some added props on the work site. When it comes to clients or prospective clients, your expert rating will automatically place you higher in their eyes than the average workman. They’ll respect your opinion about the proposed project and will be more willing to go along with suggestions you might make for getting the job done more easily or with a better result.

Job Variety

Apprentice and journeyman electricians do a large variety of jobs, so the job isn’t as dull and boring as some. Eventually, though, you may want to take your work day to the next level. In addition to the basic electrician job duties, a master supervises all the other crew members on the job. He orders supplies, coordinates teams to make sure all parts of the job finish at the same time and ensures that everything and everyone on the job site operates as planned. After you become a master you’ll also acquire the following responsibilities:

• Pulling permits for the job site
• Purchasing and providing supplies, equipment and other inventory for the crew
• Working with the site manager
• Conduct business and consultations with the homeowner or project owner
• Ensure that all safety guidelines are met on the job site

You’ll have less hands-on electrical work to do and more management jobs, but the new challenges will add an additional spice to your work day.

Job Prospects

You may be perfectly happy with your current employment, but that may change in the future. Company ownerships change hands, families relocate on a regular basis and the economy rises and falls. Becoming a master electrician is one way of making your job prospects much more secure in the future. Despite the extra cost of hiring a master, companies are almost always more willing to hire someone with more knowledge and experience than less experienced workers, especially in positions of high responsibility. It just makes good business sense.

If you get tired of working for someone else and decide to create your own company, it’s easier to  go out on your own if you’re the expert. Every new company needs to have a master electrician to supervise projects from start to finish. As a master, you’ll not only save money you might otherwise have to spend, your increased knowledge of the trade will enhance your crew management skills.

End of article

If you are interested in obtaining your C10 Electrical CSLB Contractors License, please let me know. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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CSLB Ineptitude

The CSLB is showing their ineptitude yet again!

CSLB IneptitudeHere are the comments to a current application under their review:

12/26/2014 – application received
12/30/2014 – app to case mgmt for flag review
12/31/2014 – printed acknldgmnt lttr to applcnt
01/15/2015 – instructions returned frm case mgmt
01/15/2015 – aiu requested app to be posted
01/16/2015 – app sent to supervisor for review
01/23/2015 – app to case mgmt for flag review
02/04/2015 – instructions returned frm case mgmt
02/04/2015 – aiu requested app to be posted
02/05/2015 – application posted
02/05/2015 – application unposted
02/05/2015 – application posted
02/06/2015 – app to aiu for investigation
02/06/2015 – enforcement

The AIU, which I thought no longer existed, requested the app to be posted on 2/4 (initially requested to be posted by the AIU on 1/5). It was posted on 2/5, then unposted, then posted again, then sent back to the AIU on 2/6?!?!

What the fence post is going on in that building? Is anybody in charge? Does anybody have a clue as to what they are doing?

I talk to people on a daily basis who are being forced to endure the ineptitude of this agency, and I feel horrible for each and every one of them. People’s livelihoods are one the line here. Feeding families, putting gas in the car to get the kids to school. And this type of ridiculous, make your head spin, cluster junk is just not acceptable.

I told this applicant… if I were you, I’d be filing a complaint with my State Representative asking them to contact this group of DCA idiots to find out what the heck is going on in that building.

What was the name of that movie where the guy throws the tv out of the window and shouts “I’m mad as hell and not going to take this anymore”?

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CSLB Application Processing in Action

CSLB application processing in actionHere is an example of the CSLB application processing in action.

04/21/2014 – APPLICATION RECEIVED
04/25/2014 – PRINTED ACKNLDGMNT LTTR TO APPLCNT
05/12/2014 – APP TO CASE MGMT FOR FLAG REVIEW
05/30/2014 – INSTRUCTIONS RETURNED FRM CASE MGMT
05/30/2014 – AIU REQUESTED APP TO BE POSTED
06/03/2014 – APPLICATION REJECTED FOR CORRECTION
06/03/2014 – REJECT – CONFIRM LEGAL NAME
06/03/2014 – CRITICAL CLASS DUTIES NOT SPECIFIC
06/20/2014 – REJECTED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
06/20/2014 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
06/20/2014 – ADD’L REJECT TO APPLICNT TO CORRECT
07/24/2014 – REJECTED APP RECEIVED BACK AT CSLB
07/24/2014 – CORRECTIONS SENT TO BE SCANNED
07/24/2014 – APPLICATION REJECTED FOR CORRECTION
07/24/2014 – NEED TRADE WORK DESCRIBED
07/25/2014 – APPLICATION POSTED
07/25/2014 – REFERRED TO EXAM SCHEDULING – BOTH
07/28/2014 – NOTICE TO APPEAR FOR EXM 08/18/2014
08/18/2014 – EXAM SCHEDULED FOR BOTH LAW & TRADE
08/18/2014 – PASSED BOTH LAW AND TRADE EXAM
09/18/2014 – APP SENT TO SUPERVISOR FOR REVIEW
09/18/2014 – APPLICATION RETURNED TO PROGRM TECH
09/23/2014 – APP TO AIU FOR INVESTIGATION

Rejected not once, not twice, but three times. Then, after providing the corrections requested and passing both exams, they sent this app to the AIU. Which, from what the CSLB has said, no longer exists.

Government, by definition, is a cluster…. But the CSLB has taken ineptitude to a whole new level.

Let’s break it down:

5/12 the app is sent to Case Management. Probably because the applicants name is the same or similar to someone else’s. There is 2+ weeks wasted.

5/30 AIU requests the app to be posted. Wait… AIU? I thought the app was in Case Management? One would think the app was good to go since the AIU said it could be posted. (Posted means accepted and that the applicant can proceed to testing)

6/3 Rejected for correction. On 5/30 the AIU said it could be posted. Now it’s being rejected for correction?

6/20 Corrections received and sent to be scanned… AND rejected again! My assumption here is that they didn’t get back what they requested, or they are playing with the applicant in the hopes that he’ll withdraw the app.

7/24 Corrections received, sent to be scanned… AND rejected again!! “Need Trade Work Description” Was this not included in the original reject? Did the applicant not provide this with the original reject? Or is the CSLB just rejecting it again because they didn’t bother to include it in the original rejection?

7/25 App posted and exam date scheduled. This would suggest that everything the applicant submitted was accepted. That is how any logical person would view this comment.

8/18 Exams passed. Bonding and insurance purchased, business cards ordered, ready to move forward… but wait…

9/18 One month later.. the app is sent to the supervisor for review. Review of what? The supervisor sends it back to the tech with instructions to send the app to AIU. Again, I thought the AIU was no longer?

9/23 5 days later the app is sent to the AIU, where the investigator will ask for all of the same documents the tech would have asked for months ago and 5 months after the app was submitted.

So there you have it. The utterly inept CSLB application processing in action.

Will this applicant get his license? I hope so! He proved his knowledge by passing the State mandated, CSLB created exams.

 

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