A Breakdown of California Contractor License Requirements

construction excavator

Before you can go very far into a career in contracting, you’ll need to get licensed in California. But it’s not quite as simple as taking a quick test. There are many guidelines for satisfying California contractor license requirements and they can be confusing. You can learn these guidelines by taking a course at Contractor License Resource Group. Until then, here is a quick breakdown of these requirements.

The Cost of the Job

California law says that if you’re doing any kind of work on any building, highway, road, parking facility, railroad, excavation, or other structure in the state, you’ll have to obtain a contractor’s license if the contract is valued at $500 or more. That includes practically anything above unclogging a sink. Another note states that if you’re working on or around asbestos or similar harmful substances, even if the job is below $500, you’ll still need a license to work on this job.

Business vs. Personal Licenses

It is possible in California to license corporations, partnerships, joint venturers, and limited liability companies (LLCs). But the licensing must take place under the names of individuals who are themselves licensed contractors. There’s no way for a licensed business to employ contractors who aren’t licensed.

excavator at work

There’s No Alternative to Experience

An important part of the California contractor license requirements is the element of prior experience. You must have at least four years of active service within the past ten years in order to qualify for a license. Valid experience is defined as working as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder. Some of that experience may consist of study in an Associate’s or Bachelor’s level program or a trade school.

Class A, Class B, and Class C Licenses

To meet California contractor license requirements you’ll have to know which class of license you’d like to apply for. Class A is for a General Engineering Contractor, Class B is for a General Building Contractor, and Class C is for a Specialty Contractor. Most contractors fall under Class B, as this is the most versatile class and it covers multiple building trades and crafts. Since versatility is becoming one of the most highly coveted qualities in a contractor, Class B is a safe bet.

Take a Class to Get Your California License

Contractor License Resource Group offers seminars in Business Planning & Marketing, to teach you the California contractor license requirements and much more. We realize that oftentimes the desire to get a license goes along with the hope of starting a construction or contracting business. These 4-hour seminars give you materials, ideas, and advice for planning out all the angles of your business. Don’t leave your business to fate—learn the basics and have a solid plan.


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