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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How long does it take to get a contractors license in California?

How long does it take to get a contractors license in California

As my father used to say… how long is a piece of string?

The processing times at the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) vary greatly.  It depends on the type of application, document, or form you’re submitting.

Different applications are processed by different units within the CSLB, and they each have their own backlogs.

When I joined the CSLB many, many years ago, the backlog was six months for an exam application to be processed.  Today it averages around three weeks, but that’s just for the application to be reviewed by a license application technician.  What are some other factors that could effect your application?

  1. Is the application formatted correctly?
  2. Are you applying for a B-Gen or A-Eng license?
  3. Is your experience that of an employee of a licensed contractor or self-employed?
  4. Are you submitting owner/builder experience?

Let’s say that your application hits all the CSLB marks for excellence and they approve your application and schedule you for the exams. Great! You’ll only have to wait about another three weeks for that test date to arrive.

While you are waiting for that test date, you’ll receive an envelope from the CSLB that contains forms you will take to a Live Scan office to get your fingerprints processed.  Check, one more thing off the list!  But wait… the FBI and DOJ that process those prints have their own backlogs and they can take anywhere between two and six weeks to return their reports to the CSLB.

Backing up a bit, what if your application doesn’t get a passing grade and the exams aren’t scheduled right away?  Well, then you’re looking at additional weeks of back and forth with the technician, waiting on a correction letter to be delivered in the mail, mailing your corrections back and then waiting on the technician to process those corrections.  If those corrections aren’t accepted, rinse and repeat.

There are tricks to speed the process up a bit, depending on your specific situation.  I’d be happy to help you find out.  Send me an email and we can discuss it. So, how long does it take to get a contractors license in California?  How much time do you have?

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Critical Classifications

Critical ClassificationsThe CSLB has seen the error of their ways and has done away with the list of Critical Classifications!

Yep, you heard me! The Contractors State License Board, under the direction of the new Registrar Cindi Christenson (she’s moved to the top of my Christmas List!), has seen the light.

They have done away with what has been dubbed the “Villucci Rule” or “Villucci Disaster” and have gone back to processing license applications in a manner that is consistent with the law.

No longer will they be REQUIRING applicants of the A, B, C10, C16, C20, C36, C38, and C57 classifications to provide written documentation to PROVE their experience.

It’s been a long 3+ years, but the day has finally come. To put it in the words of the Registrar herself at a recent Board meeting… the previous way of processing applications was “probably improper.” One of the Board members wanted to know why application submittals have gone up, but the number of licenses issued has gone down.. uh… Rick Villucci is why!! I wonder how Rick is doing in his newly demoted position?!?! LOL

This means that ALL applications will be processed according to the contractors license law. This is to say that a minimum of 3% of ALL applications received will be pulled for a secondary review… as the law allows!

Bottom line… your A, B, C10, etc app will most likely get through the initial review process without issue (unless it isn’t formatted properly… [I can help with this] and is rejected) and sent straight to the exams. This is good new people!!

I give the CSLB a lot of grief (having been a former CSLB employee I feel I’ve earned the right), but in this instance… I totally applaud the Registrar!!

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Who should certify your CSLB experience

Who should certify your CSLB experienceSo who should certify your CSLB experience and who shouldn’t?

And how should your trade experience be outlined on the license application.

Other questions are:

  • How many certifiers do I need?
  • Can my dad, mom, uncle, or brother be my certifier?

These are common questions that I’m asked all the time. And although it seems like this aspect of the license application is somewhat of a daunting task, it’s really not that bad.

Who should certify your CSLB experience?

  • If you are submitting experience as an employee, do not check the “self-employed” box in Line two. Enter the employer’s business name, license number, and business address. The certifier in this case could be the license holder, officer on the license, foreman or supervisor, fellow employee, or anyone who has first-hand knowledge of that experience.
  • If you are submitting experience as self-employed, do check the “self-employed” box in Line two, and leave the employer name, license number, address boxes blank. The certifier in this case could be a business associate, another journeyman, or a contractor listed in the same classification or above. I would avoid checking the “client” box because most people are not working for the same client 40 hours a week for four years. If you are, you should probably be on the payroll.

How many certifiers do I need?

You only need one unless your certifier is not certifying a full four year period. If you have one certifier that has first-hand knowledge of only two years of experience, then you would need a second certifier to cover the remaining two years. Submitting more than one work experience page for the same time period with different certifiers is not a benefit to you. It does not increase your chances of the application being accepted (aka “posted”).

Can your dad, mom, uncle, or brother be your certifier?

Yes. As long as they have first-hand knowledge of your experience and are qualified to know if your experience is at the journeyman level. The title they would select would most likely be “Business Associate” unless they are licensed. Then you would select the Contractor box and enter their license number.

What if you can’t use your employer as your certifier because it might put your employment status in jeopardy?

You could use a fellow employee or foreman/supervisor as your certifier. Submit a letter with your application stating that you do not want the CSLB contacting the employer directly because it could jeopardize your employment. The CSLB isn’t in the business of getting people fired from their jobs.

How should your trade experience be outlined on the license application?

The application states: “In the space below, list all specific trade duties applicant performed or supervised in the classification for which he/she is applying.”

This implies that the certifier has to fill out the experience outline. Although the implication is there, it is acceptable for you to complete the experience outline and have your certifier sign-off on it.

The outline should be generic, straight forward, and trade specific. Begin the outline with “Experience includes….” Then describe the trade duties you perform/supervise on a daily basis. Do not list administrative duties. These include, reading plans, getting permits, contacting clients, etc.

So who should certify your CSLB experience and who shouldn’t?

Hopefully I’ve laid it out in a way that explains it in a clearer, more understandable way. If you have questions regarding this topic, feel free to contact me. And remember, I do offer an application review service for only $150.

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CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process

Let’s take a minute to discuss CSLB Application Denials and the Appeals Process.

application denialIt’s a boring subject I know, but it’s good information to have if you find yourself stuck in the AIU vortex.

If your application is denied by the Application Investigation Unit, Section 485 kicks in.

§ 485. Procedure upon denial

Upon denial of an application for a license under this chapter or Section 496, the board shall do either of the following:

  • (a) File and serve a statement of issues in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
  • (b) Notify the applicant that the application is denied, stating (1) the reason for the denial, and (2) that the applicant has the right to a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code if written request for hearing is made within 60 days after service of the notice of denial. Unless written request for hearing is made within the 60-day period, the applicant’s right to a hearing is deemed waived. Service of the notice of denial may be made in the manner authorized for service of summons in civil actions, or by registered mail addressed to the applicant at the latest address filed by the applicant in writing with the board in his or her application or otherwise. Service by mail is complete on the date of mailing.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1997 ch 758 §

The key here is that 60 day deadline to file your appeal request. I would suggest filing your appeal as soon as possible to get the appeal process started.

From here Section 487 applies and it outlines the Hearing process.

§ 487. Hearing; Time

If a hearing is requested by the applicant, the board shall conduct such hearing within 90 days from the date the hearing is requested unless the applicant shall request or agree in writing to a postponement or continuance of the hearing. Notwithstanding the above, the Office of Administrative Hearings may order, or on a showing of good cause, grant a request for, up to 45 additional days within which to conduct a hearing, except in cases involving alleged examination or licensing fraud, in which cases the period may be up to 180 days. In no case shall more than two such orders be made or requests be granted.

Added Stats 1972 ch 903 § 1. Amended Stats 1974 ch 1321 § 10; Stats 1986 ch 220 § 1, effective June 30, 1986.

The important part in this section is that the hearing shall be conducted within 90 days of the hearing being requested. Unless you, the applicant, request or agree to a continuance. I wouldn’t agree to a continuance because I wouldn’t want to give the board the ability to delay the process any further. If the OAH grants a request for extension, you’re stuck with it. The CSLB likes to say that the process can take 4-6 months, but I think this is a scare tactic. Section 487 suggests that a hearing could take place in as little as 3 months.

After a hearing request is submitted, Section 488 comes in to play.

§ 488. Hearing request

Except as otherwise provided by law, following a hearing requested by an applicant pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 485, the board may take any of the following actions:

  • (a) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant.
  • (b) Grant the license effective upon completion of all licensing requirements by the applicant, immediately revoke the license, stay the revocation, and impose probationary conditions on the license, which may include suspension.
  • (c) Deny the license.
  • (d) Take other action in relation to denying or granting the license as the board in its discretion may deem proper.

Added Stats 2000 ch 568 § 2 (AB 2888).

This one is interesting because of item (c). This suggests that the CSLB could deny the license… again. What’s curious is that it was a denial that led you down the appeal/hearing path in the first place.

So there you have it, some interesting facts about CSLB application denials and the appeals process.

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Year End Sale

I just lowered the price for my Application Services and Complete Study Kits by $25.00. Take advantage of this year end sale today.

Complete Application Services were: $250 ~ now $225

Application Review Services were: $125 ~ now $100

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Complete License Exam Study Kits were: $315 ~ now $290 (without online practice exams)

year end sale

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