Monthly Archives: March 2024

How to Get Referrals When You Become a General Contractor

For a lot of us, self-promotion is one of the hardest aspects of day-to-day business. To take some of the pressure off, it helps a great deal if you’ve got people in your network who can talk you up and spread positive messaging about you around the construction industry.

A successful career as a general contractor is about so much more than just technique, skill, and building up knowledge and work experience in the field.

It is also about nurturing relationships with clients and demonstrating your expertise so that they trust you and feel good about recommending your services to others.

In this article, we discuss how general contractors can get referrals to maintain a solid professional reputation while also boosting their business.

Providing High-Quality Workmanship

Actually performing at a high level and delivering high-quality workmanship is the first step toward receiving all that valuable positive feedback that you seek.

When you’re consistently making a good impression on clients, they will want to say good things about your work and they will recommend you to friends, family, and colleagues.

To get specific, here are ways to ensure that you’re making a lasting positive impression with high-quality workmanship:

1. Attention to Detail

A detail-oriented contractor is a very good and very much coveted contractor.

This list on LinkedIn offers some amazing tips for how to display that you pay close attention to detail for the benefit of your clients and collaborators.

2. Use Quality Materials

Invest in high-quality materials that you know will make all the difference to your client. This builds trust with clients and extends the life of their construction projects.

Communicate with clients about how local codes and regulations may affect your decisions when selecting construction materials.

This guide from Indeed covers six steps you can take toward optimal quality control in construction.

3. Communicate Effectively

Maintain open and transparent communication with clients throughout the project. Do not gloss over confusion and instead check-in and help the client stay on the same page.

When clients feel confused or left out of the process, they are less likely to give generous reviews and referrals.

Address concerns promptly and follow up to ensure that the client is satisfied. Check out our post What to Expect from Clients as a General Contractor for more guidance about how to keep optimal communication going between you and your clients.

Leveraging Online Platforms, Trade Organizations, and Referral Services

1. Online Platforms

Online platforms can help you keep your name and the name of your business on the top of everyone’s mind. It’s a great way to tell your story to future clients and help them feel included in your company’s positive narrative and mission.

You can invest in a professional website for you and your company and you can build a presence for your brand on social media.

2. Professional Associations

Joining professional associations are good networking opportunities and as a potential side benefit, they can keep you sharp and competitive among your competition.

Here are a few organizations that help contractors stay in the mix and keep themselves in the know:

3. Contractor Referral Services

According to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), using contractor referral services is completely legal and within limits.

These referral services function as online marketplaces where clients can shop for licensed contractors — a very useful tool for contractors interested in gathering more referrals for their business.

Here are a few services that can increase visibility and reach for general contractors working on generating referrals:

A few words of caution:
– Referral services cannot solicit or negotiate contracts on behalf of contractors.
– They can’t do anything to suggest that they are licensed to complete construction work valued at over $500 including materials.
– They must leave that business to the license-holding contractors that they are referring!

Garnering Good Reviews and Testimonials

1. Request Feedback

You have to request good feedback to get good feedback. Tell your satisfied clients that you would love to hear from them.

Make it easy by providing links to review platforms or sending follow-up emails requesting a review.

Even if they have constructive criticism to offer, the way you respond to their feedback could prompt an even more positive review from them in the future.

2. Showcase Success Stories

Display testimonials and photo evidence of satisfied clients on your website and social media platforms. It makes it easier for people to recommend you when you tell them verbatim why they should.

Showcasing past successes is also a great way to make a first impression on new clients who stumble upon your page.

3. Provide Exceptional Service

This one is in line with high-quality workmanship, but providing excellent customer service overall is an obvious method for reeling in future referrals.

Go above and beyond to exceed client expectations and you’ll make a lasting positive impression that they won’t be able to stop themselves from sharing with others.

Managing Negative Reviews and Protecting Your Reputation

1. Respond Promptly

It happens. People leave negative reviews online or share negative feedback in person. Address negative reviews promptly and professionally.

Make sure clients feel acknowledged and understood. Invite them to be a part of the solution and show them your willingness to resolve the issue both online and offline.

Demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and you’ll mitigate the impact of a negative review.

2. Learn from Feedback

Negative feedback can actually be a wonderful prompt for improving your product and services.

Identify whatever the issue is that has been flagged and be transparent as you take proactive measures to make adjustments.

Your track record of correcting issues and preventing them from occurring moving forward is a huge asset to your business.

3. Maintain Professionalism

No matter what happens when you receive negative feedback, maintain professionalism. This is not the time to take anything personally. This is not an opportunity to win an argument. This is an opportunity to grow your business.

If you maintain poise and professionalism when you’re hit with a negative review, you build trust with your clients and potentially draw in new positive attention for your brand.


To conclude, generating referrals as a general contractor takes a great deal of effort and patience, but it is worth it.

Try using one tool at a time to see what works for you and your clients and gradually work your way up to relying on more tools for generating referrals from there.

No matter what, you definitely want to deliver high-quality workmanship and the best customer service possible.

Prompt satisfied clients to share their feedback whether it’s good, bad or neutral.

You can learn a lot from client feedback — even if it’s negative — and you can demonstrate your ability and willingness to improve, which could potentially attract even more strong referrals.

Can You Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Wondering if you can get a contractor’s license in your state, despite not being a US citizen?

We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of whether you can get a contractor’s license in America if you’re not a US citizen, including what you can expect from the licensing process and what documentation you require to get a license.

Let’s dig in.

What is a Contractor’s License?

A contractor’s license is a legal verifier that allows individuals or companies to engage in construction activities within the scope of the law. It’s a way to ensure that contractors meet certain standards of quality, safety, and professionalism, while also ensuring that unscrupulous contractors who can cause physical, environmental, or financial damages are prevented from doing construction work.

Licenses are typically issued by state or local government agencies and may be required for various types of construction work, from general contracting to specialized trades like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC.

Usually, contractors’ licenses are specific to your trade or area of expertise. In California, for instance, you have over 50 different types of construction licenses, from Class B General Contractor licenses to highly specialized Class C licenses covering trades like landscaping and low-voltage electrical.

Do You Need a Contractor’s License to Do Construction?

The requirement for a contractor’s license depends on the state or locality and the type of construction work being performed. In general, most states require a license for major construction projects, especially those exceeding a certain monetary threshold.

For example, in Mississippi, a license is required for general contracting work on projects valued above $50,000. In California, you need a contractor’s license if you do construction work on any job valued over $500 in materials and labor! However, the rules can vary, so it’s important to check the specific requirements in your area.

Consequences of Doing Unlicensed Construction Work

Operating without a valid contractor’s license can lead to serious consequences, including:

  • Heavy fines, damage reparation payments, and other financial penalties
  • Legal action and lawsuits
  • Inability to enforce contracts
  • Damage to reputation and credibility
  • Higher costs and overcharges
  • Jail or prison if you are a repeat offender

Seriously – they can throw you in jail for doing unlicensed contracting work in many states. If your state has a licensing requirement, you should get a contractor’s license. The consequences of not doing so can be life-changing and brutal!

Can You Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Yes, non-US citizens can obtain a contractor’s license in the United States. However, the specific requirements vary by state.

Generally, you’ll need to meet the same qualifications as US citizens, which may include passing exams, providing proof of experience, and obtaining insurance and bonding. Some states might also require a Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

However, in many states, it’s absolutely not a requirement to be licensed.

How to Get a Contractor’s License if You’re Not a US Citizen

  • Identify the Requirements: Check with your state’s licensing board to understand the specific requirements for obtaining a contractor’s license. Usually, the requirements include age, experience, bonds and insurance, and examination requirements.
  • Obtain an ITIN: If you don’t have a Social Security Number, you may need to apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) for tax purposes. Almost every contractor’s license will require an SSN, EIN, or ITIN to receive a license.
  • Complete the Application: Fill out the necessary application forms, which may require personal information, proof of experience, and details about your business.
  • Pass the Exams: Most states require passing a general business and law exam and a trade-specific exam to verify your knowledge and experience.
  • Obtain Insurance and Bonding: You’ll likely need to provide proof of general liability insurance and a construction bond to receive a contractor’s license.
  • Submit Your Application: Once you’ve gathered all the required documents, submit your application to the state licensing board, along with any applicable fees.
  • Maintain Your License: Once you’ve obtained your license, ensure you comply with any continuing education requirements and renew your license as needed. Many licenses require renewal every two years, but it could be more frequent, depending on your area.

Many states do not require contractor’s licenses, so if you’re in one of those states, you’re in luck! You don’t have to do any of this!


Obtaining a contractor’s license or doing construction work as a non-US citizen is possible, but it requires careful attention to the specific legal requirements of the state where you plan to work.

The main thing to look out for is contractor’s licenses and the various laws surrounding them. You must follow the proper steps and stay compliant with all rules and regulations surrounding construction, lest you face the very serious consequences of falling afoul of these laws.

For more detailed information, it’s advisable to consult the licensing board or regulatory agency in your state or locality.

The Education Exemption for Your CSLB License: A Guide

Been to school for a construction-related degree and wondering if you can use that education to help you get a California contractor’s license?

You’re in luck – the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) allows contractors with a background in higher education related to construction education to be exempt from some of the stringent experience requirements that the state sets forth for licensed Colorado contractors.

What is a CSLB Contractor’s License?

A CSLB contractor’s license is a legal requirement in the state of California for anyone who intends to perform construction work where the total cost (labor and materials) exceeds $500.

Anyone doing construction work over $500 or involving specialized areas of construction (such as HVAC or plumbing) must have a valid CSLB contractor’s license related to the area of construction.

The CSLB oversees the licensing process, ensuring consumer protection and industry regulation. This license allows consumers to hire contractors with the implicit backing of the state, ensuring safety and quality standards are met throughout the state.

Who Needs a Contractor’s License?

Anyone performing work in California that costs over $500 in labor or materials must have a valid CSLB-verified contractor’s license.

Here’s a more detailed list of when a contractor’s license is required:

  • Individuals and businesses undertaking projects over $500 in labor or materials costs.
  • Subcontractors and specialty contractors working in trades on construction jobs
  • The contractor’s license must be valid for the area of specialization
  • Any government or federal-related construction jobs require a contractor’s license

Requirements For A CSLB Contractor’s License

Here are the requirements for getting a contractor’s license in California:

  • Age Requirement: Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Experience: A minimum of four years of relevant experience at a journey level, or as a foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder within the last ten years.
    • Education Exemption: Up to three years of the experience requirement can be substituted with relevant educational or technical training, but at least one year must be practical experience.
  • Examination: Pass the CSLB examination, which includes a Law and Business exam and a trade-specific exam.
  • Legal Presence: Provide proof of legal presence in the United States (you cannot be an undocumented migrant).
  • Fingerprinting: Undergo a criminal background check through fingerprinting.
  • Bond Requirement: Post a $25,000 contractor’s bond.
  • Workers’ Compensation: If you have employees, or hold a certain classification, provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Business Entity: If applying as a business entity, such as a corporation or LLC, register with the California Secretary of State.
  • Unique Business Name: Register and use a business name that is unique and not misleading or similar to an existing licensee.

What is the Education Exemption?

When it comes to getting your contractor license in California, you have to satisfy the experience requirements. California requires all contractors to have four years of journeyman experience in their area of focus. For example, if you are applying for an HVAC contractor’s license, you need at least four years’ experience as an HVAC journeyman.

But what about aspiring contractors who don’t have experience? Can you still get a contractor’s license?

You can – but the only other route is via the education exemption, which states that contractors only need one year of journeyman experience in their trade of choice, so long as they have three years’ qualifying education as well!

In practice, this means you have three years’ education at a trade school, university or other construction-related educational institution. The education exemption allows aspiring contractors to count formal education or technical training towards the required four years of experience needed to qualify for the CSLB exam, significantly decreasing the time and energy you have to spend to get your license.

How Do You Qualify for the Education Exemption?

In order to qualify for the education exemption, you have to demonstrate to the CSLB that you have the requisite three years’ education in the classification for which you are applying.

In addition to the three years’ education, you also need at least one year’s journeyman experience in that trade, so, for example, if you want to become an electrician via the education exemption, you need three years’ accredited education as an electrician, as well as one year working under a licensed C-10 contractor.

Here’s how you qualify for the education exemption in its simplest terms:

  • To Qualify For The Education Exemption: Three years of credit for relevant educational achievements can be applied toward the four-year experience requirement.
    • Accredited Degrees: Degrees or substantial coursework in construction management, architecture, engineering, and related fields can contribute towards the experience credit.
    • Technical and Vocational Training: Recognized apprenticeship programs or vocational training in the trade seeking licensure can also count.

Do You Still Need Work Experience to Get Your License if You Take the Education Exemption?

Yes. Despite the education exemption, applicants must have at least one year of practical experience. The combination of education and hands-on experience ensures well-rounded qualifications for licensure.

How Do You Know if Your Education Qualifies for the Exemption?

The CSLB evaluates each applicant’s educational background on a case-by-case basis:

  • Documentation: Official, sealed transcripts and certificates of completion from accredited institutions must be submitted for evaluation.
  • Accreditation: Degrees obtained outside the United States require translation and evaluation by an accredited evaluation service.

The CSLB states that they may accept the following as proof of satisfying the educational requirements:

A maximum of one (1) to one-and-a-half (1.5) years upon submission of official transcripts of an A.A. degree from an accredited school or college in building or construction management.

  • A maximum of two (2) years upon submission of official transcripts of any of the following:
    • A four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the fields of accounting, architecture (Class B Only!), business, economics, mathematics, physics, or areas related to the specific trade or craft for which application is being made
    • A professional degree in law
    • Substantial accredited college or university coursework in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics, or physics.

A maximum of three (3) years upon submission of any of the following:

  • A Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from an accredited apprenticeship program or a certified statement of completion of apprenticeship training from a union in the classification for which the application is being made. The Division of Apprenticeship Standards can help you verify this.
    • Submission of official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in construction technology/management, or any field of engineering that is directly related to the classification for which application is being made.
    • Submission of official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the field of horticulture, landscape horticulture, or landscape architecture for the Landscaping (C-27) classification, or in the field of interior design for the Painting and
    • Decorating (C-33) classification.

Which License Classifications Are Best for Education Exemption?

While most classifications can benefit from the education exemption, those with a direct correlation to specific educational programs—such as engineering, architecture, and construction management—are particularly advantageous.

As you can see in the previous section, those with more defined ideas and backing of hard scientific rigor are the best for directly applying education to real-world experience. Class A General Engineering license holders, in particular, need the four-year classroom education on physics, dynamics, and all the various day-to-day, real-world considerations needed for safe and effective construction.

Can You Skip the CSLB Exam if You Qualify for the Education Exemption?

Generally speaking, all applicants, regardless of education or experience, must pass the CSLB examination to obtain their license.

However, you can apply for a waiver of examination, if you think you qualify. The CSLB gives out waivers of examination for the CSLB exam if you meet the following requirements:

  • The qualifying individual is a member of the immediate family of a licensee whose individual license was active and in good standing for five of the seven years immediately preceding the application;
  • The qualifying individual must have been actively engaged in the licensee’s business for five of the previous seven years and must be applying in the same classification(s); and
  • The license must be required in order to continue the operations of an existing family business in the event of the absence or death of the licensee.

So it doesn’t really depend on you, but rather the qualifying individual who is “sponsoring” your license.

See our full article on skipping the CSLB exam for more information.


If you already have three years of schooling in your area of expertise – great! You probably qualify to be exempt from the four years of journeyman experience requirement.

However, you still need to get some on-the-job training – at least one year’s worth. Now it’s time to hit the bricks and get some work under an experienced, licensed contractor.

Partnering with a mentor or an expert in your area is a great way to fulfill this requirement and get you that one step closer to becoming a licensed contractor in California! Reach out to your local network and find somewhere where you can grow your skills and ultimately get your license!

Most Common Home Renovation Projects in California

Home beautification is always thriving in sunny California. Maybe you just saw a project on TV or on social media and you’re feeling inspired to take it on. Or maybe you’re someone working hard to increase the property value of your home.

Whatever the case may be, you’re thinking about making some home updates. To help you out while you brainstorm, we created this list which covers the most common home renovation projects in California.

Stick with us until the very end to get details about licenses that you definitely want your contractors to have while modernizing your space and optimizing functionality in your home.

Kitchen Remodeling

Ah, yes. The kitchen — the heart of the home. Why do we think that kitchen remodeling is among the most popular home improvement projects in California?

For one thing, interior design trends for kitchen spaces get updated every year. Even if the practical function of a kitchen stays the same, the popularity of these aesthetic details often changes:

  • Cabinetry
  • Countertops
  • Appliances
  • Flooring
  • Light fixtures
  • Modern tech like smart appliances

For another thing, the kitchen tends to be the keeper of a few big-ticket items that require regular updates if you want to keep the whole house feeling current. Water heater, dishwasher, and garbage disposal replacements are three jobs that help a kitchen remodel go a long way.

Bathroom Upgrades

Everyone loves a bathroom upgrade. Updating a bathroom can lead to luxurious, spa-like results or it can be as simple as updating a few outdated fixtures and finishes.

Here are the most popular upgrades we see in bathrooms:

  • Installing new showers or tubs
  • Replacing old vanities and sinks
  • Plumbing additions and replacements in general
  • Upgrading to energy-efficient fixtures
  • Optimizing storage solutions

Room Additions

Two big issues for California residents are costly real estate and limited space. Room additions are popular home renovation projects because they allow homeowners to get more living space without having to move. Some examples of popular room addition projects are:

  • Adding a new bedroom
  • Expanding the living room
  • Designing a dedicated room for a home office
  • Creating a gym space

These projects require a lot of hard work, including but not limited to:

  • Flooring
  • Carpeting
  • Paneling or ceiling tile replacement
  • Window or door addition or replacement

While room additions are fun and come with amazing benefits, they sometimes come with red tape. We spoke about this a bit in our Comprehensive Guide to ADU Builds.

The main point we intend to underscore here is that homeowners who are interested in room additions must plan carefully and make sure that their project complies with local zoning regulations and building codes.

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor living spaces get a lot of love in California thanks to the agreeable climate. This means that property owners put extra effort and focus into outdoor home renovation.

A few popular outdoor upgrades that help homeowners boost their entertainment and hospitality game include:

  • Building decks
  • Building patios
  • Erecting pergolas
  • Adding outdoor kitchens
  • Adding fire pits
  • Installing swimming pools

There are a few landscaping upgrades that are super common in California, such as:

  • Adding drought-tolerant plants and sustainable design features
  • Adding or replacing a sprinkler system

Roof Replacement is another outdoor upgrade that frequently comes up for property owners and relates very closely to the final item on our list…

Energy Efficiency Improvements

We’ve mentioned it on the blog before, but Californians are leading the charge in sustainable living.

Adopting solar technology at home has been strongly incentivized which means lots and lots of home renovation projects involving the following:

  • Installing solar panels
  • Upgrading insulation and windows
  • Replacing outdated HVAC systems with energy-efficient models
  • Implementing smart home tech to monitor and control energy usage

Licensing Requirements for Home Remodeling in California

As you probably already know, any construction project going over $500 in labor and materials requires a contractor’s license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

While you might be fairly familiar with the “B” Class General Building Contractor License, you might not be as familiar with the special class licenses that often come in handy for home remodeling.

In an earlier post on the blog, we discussed the B-2 Remodeling Contractors License in depth and we delved into when or why you might need to obtain one. But here is some home remodeling work that most often requires special class licenses to complete:

Structural Work

  • Projects involving structural changes, like adding or removing walls
  • Projects that alter a roofline
  • Projects that expand the footprint of a home

Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC

  • Any installation or maintenance for electrical, plumbing, or HVAC systems requires special licenses

Any Work Requiring a Permit

  • Even for a small kitchen or bathroom renovation — if a permit is required, you’ll want a licensed contractor to help you maintain compliance with building codes and regulations.

DIY Projects vs. Hired Licensed Contractor Work

Home makeover TV shows and all the social media content flaunting the before and afters often make it seem like home renovation is mostly DIY side-project fun.

In reality, there is a line between DIY projects and licensed contractor work that we must acknowledge. Even for minor renovations, we’re better off working with licensed contractors because they can guarantee:


  • Licensed contractors are experts. They have been tested in the field and they have been literally tested on their knowledge through the contractor’s exam that is required for their license.

Legal Compliance

  • Not only do licensed contractors have the skills and expertise, but they are also held accountable by law and must comply with local building codes and permitting requirements, keeping your project safe, efficient, and structurally up to code.

Insurance Coverage

  • Licensed contractors carry liability insurance so you’ll be covered if accidents happen.


The most common home renovation projects in California cover a wide range of categories of contractor work.

Whether you want to update a kitchen or a bathroom, or if you want to add living space to your property, the safest and most efficient way to complete your project is with a licensed contractor on your team.

The CSLB is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge about contractor license classifications or who simply wants to verify that a contractor’s license is valid and active.

Quickstart Guide To Business Management for California Contractors

California’s construction industry demands that contractors not only excel in their craft, but also in the realms of business administration, strategic planning, and regulatory compliance to stay competitive and thrive.

Many a contractor has to learn the hard way that being a contractor is inseparable from being a business owner. In order to be a successful contractor, you need to be a successful business owner and operator.

With that in mind, this guide covers some of the essential practices that contractors need to know – like financial management, project management, risk mitigation, and so on. While this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to business administration, this is a good platform to start from.

Financial Management

Building A Solid Accounting Foundation

  • Implement robust accounting software like QuickBooks Contractor or Xero, enriched with construction-specific features, to capture and automate financial transactions, facilitating real-time insights into financial health, streamlining tax preparation, and supporting strategic decision-making.
  • Regular financial reviews, including monthly analyses of balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements, are imperative for maintaining fiscal discipline, identifying discrepancies early, and ensuring the business’s financial stability.
  • Annual audits, conducted internally or by external professionals, play a pivotal role in validating financial practices and compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Budgeting and Cash Flow Management

  • Budget preparation, an exercise in forecasting future revenues against projected costs, is fundamental in navigating the financial complexities of the construction industry. This involves a thorough analysis of past financial performance, market trends, and upcoming project pipelines, incorporating a contingency buffer to address the unpredictable nature of construction costs.
  • Positive cash flow, the lifeline of any contracting business, necessitates stringent invoicing protocols, timely billing, and effective negotiation of payment terms with clients and suppliers alike.

Financial Ratios and KPIs

  • Defining your ideal financial goals is critical to success as a contractor. Without accurately predicting your costs and income, you won’t be able to stay afloat.
  • The best KPIs are S.M.A.R.T.
    • Specific: Define clear and precise goals. For instance, rather than aiming to ‘increase sales,’ set a goal to ‘increase new home construction contracts in Southern California by 15% by the end of the fiscal year.’
    • Measurable: Ensure that each goal has a corresponding metric or set of metrics that can be tracked and measured over time.
    • Achievable: Evaluate your current resources and capabilities to assess what can realistically be achieved. If necessary, outline the steps required to develop the capabilities needed to meet your goals.
    • Relevant: Align goals with broader business objectives and market opportunities in California. Each goal should contribute to the long-term success and growth of the business.
    • Time-Bound: Set deadlines for achieving each goal to maintain a sense of urgency and focus. These should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as needed in response to changes in the business environment.
  • Financial ratios, such as liquidity ratios (current ratio, quick ratio) and profitability ratios (net profit margin, return on assets), alongside KPIs like average collection periods and work-in-progress schedules, are indispensable tools for monitoring the financial health and operational efficiency of a contracting business.

Project Management

Project Planning And Execution

  • A comprehensive project plan outlines objectives, scope, resource allocation, and timelines, serving as a blueprint for execution. Key components include the development of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), meticulous resource planning, realistic scheduling, and proactive risk management strategies.
  • Project management software solutions, such as Procore, Buildertrend, or PlanGrid, are essential for enhancing project oversight, facilitating seamless communication among stakeholders, and ensuring project deliverables align with client expectations.

Communication And Timelining

  • Clear, concise, and consistent communication strategies are crucial for maintaining stakeholder engagement and ensuring the smooth progression of projects. This encompasses regular updates, transparent sharing of challenges, and collaborative problem-solving.

Risk Management

Comprehensive Risk Assessment and Mitigation

  • In the construction industry, risk management is absolutely essential to success. Any contractor worth their weight will know the risks that come with construction in general – you must be able to manage business risk as well!
  • The best approach to risk management begins with the identification and analysis of potential risks, followed by the development of a detailed risk management plan. You need to have a long list of plans of action, ready to go into effect when things go bad.
  • This risk management plan should outline strategies for risk avoidance, mitigation, or transfer, and include the assignment of responsibilities, budgeting for risk management activities, and ongoing monitoring.

Human Resources

Cultivate a Trustworthy, Skilled Workforce

  • One of the best ways to find reliable contractors is by asking trusted subcontractors or employees for recommendations or referrals. If you can trust them on your construction site, you can probably trust their recommendations – but always use your best judgment.
  • No-call, no-shows are not only possible but highly likely in the construction industry. That’s why trustworthiness and reliability are two of the best characteristics of a construction worker.
  • Investing in ongoing training and development programs ensures that you can stay ahead of the curve without spending a bunch of time and energy yourself while fostering a strong team culture enhances employee engagement and productivity.

Marketing and Client Acquisition

Think Strategically

  • Identifying your target market and differentiating from your competitors is the core of effective marketing strategies. Once you know what you offer and how it’s better than your competitors, you have your marketing strategy.
  • Use a variety of marketing channels to reach your end customer. Don’t just focus your advertising on Angie’s List or Google Ads. If you’re investing in marketing, it’s wise to split your budget across a number of channels to increase visibility and potential for conversion.

Regulatory Compliance

Staying Compliant With California

  • Obtaining and maintaining a California contractor’s license, adhering to state-specific building codes and environmental regulations, and staying informed of legislative changes are non-negotiable aspects of being a contractor. Period.
  • The penalties for non-compliance can include jail time on top of mandatory fines, compensatory damages, hits to your credit and reputation, lost business, and so on.
  • Check with the CSLB for any and all questions related to regulatory compliance.

IT and Construction

Investing In IT Is Essential

  • Adoption of the latest technological tools, from accounting and project management software to CRM systems and advanced design tools, is critical for streamlining operations, enhancing efficiency, and delivering superior client service.
  • Defer to an experienced IT consultant or managed IT service provider for a cutting edge in this area. You can also check with your peers to stay up-to-date with the latest breakthroughs and useful tech for construction.

Resources for Ongoing Support and Information

Contractors State License Board (CSLB): The CSLB is the end-all, be-all when it comes to the business of contracting. Go here for comprehensive resources on licensing, regulations, and consumer protection.
California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR): Provides information on labor laws, workplace safety, and workers’ compensation.
Associated General Contractors of California (AGC CA): A trade association offering advocacy, education, and networking opportunities for general contractors.
California Building Industry Association (CBIA): The CBIA is a great trade association for anyone involved in the industry. The CBIA can help members navigate the complexities of the construction industry in California.
The American Institute of Architects, California (AIA CA): While not construction-related exactly, the AIA can help by providing guidelines and educational resources related to design and building standards.
OSHA Training Institute Education Centers in California: If you’re in construction, you need to be OSHA-compliant. Make sure you know the rules.
Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA): Provides education and networking for construction financial professionals.
SmartMarket Reports by Dodge Data & Analytics: This is a good great place to find insights and trends in the construction industry.


This is just the beginning of the story when it comes to business administration for construction contractors. This is a well that goes deep. Very deep.

The truth is you simply can’t be an uneducated construction worker who goes around and bangs a hammer for twenty bucks and a sandwich these days. If you’re an independent construction contractor, you need to be a business owner as much as you need to know arc welding, or else you’ll never finish first in the race to the top of Construction Mountain.

Can an Unlicensed Contractor Sue Me?

Although it might seem like a nearly impossible, worst-case-scenario type of event, you – an innocent homeowner or business owner – are being sued by an unlicensed contractor for issues that happened on your job site. Remain calm. If an unlicensed contractor has threatened to sue you, it’s actually not the end of the world.

In a past blog post, we answered the question Can You Sue an Unlicensed Contractor? and now it is time to take a look at the other side of that same coin and let you know whether or not an unlicensed contractor can sue the client who hired them.
The Unlicensed Contractor Dilemma

You’ve been given the same advice a million times — hire a licensed contractor. If any kind of home repair or construction work exceeds $500 in labor and materials, you need a licensed contractor for the job.

Even though the message to hire licensed contractors is out there, you may have unknowingly hired a slippery, unlicensed contractor who convinced you that they’re the real deal.

It’s upsetting enough to realize that someone is working with you in bad faith, but in addition to that, you’re seeing what a challenge it is to hold unlicensed contractors accountable.

Meanwhile, the unlicensed contractor might lead you to believe that you are liable for damages if anything goes wrong while they are working on your handyman or construction project.

Can they sue you for non-payment? Can they sue you if they get injured or sick on the job? What are your rights? What is your responsibility?

Unlicensed Contractors Have Limited Legal Standing to Sue

The thing that unlicensed contractors want you to forget or fail to realize is that they typically have limited legal standing to sue you for not paying them.

A quick review of the California Business and Professions Code section 7031 shows that unlicensed contractors are prohibited from taking legal action to enforce contracts for services requiring a valid contractor license – so if they don’t have a license, they can’t sue you!

Unlicensed contractors can’t sue you for breaking a contract that they entered fraudulently. This rule exists to discourage unlicensed individuals from advertising illegal services in the first place and this rule also stands to protect consumers from unscrupulous practices.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are extraordinary circumstances that might get a judge to rule in favor of the unlicensed contractor who has sued to recover payment:

Substantial Compliance
In some rare situations, the courts might see that the contractor made a good-faith effort to comply with licensing requirements. “Substantial compliance” might be enough to keep you on the hook for paying this individual.

Minor Work Exemption
For projects valued under $500, certain minor work exemptions do apply. If it is determined that your project qualifies for such exemptions, that may be enough of a legal precedent for you to pay for the labor.

Please note that the above-mentioned scenarios are rare and the risk involved is considerably low compared to the drama and headache that typically comes with hiring an unlicensed contractor to work on structural repairs and other construction work.

How Homeowners Can Protect Themselves

The constant refrain that you’ll get from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is to take your time when hiring a contractor and look up their license to verify that it is active and valid.

The CSLB urges the public to report illegal contractor activity to avoid situations where consumers could get swindled and tricked into hiring an unqualified worker leaving shoddy non-compliant construction work in their wake.

One simple way that homeowners can protect themselves is by getting everything in writing from the outset. All agreements and details indicating the scope of work, the costs of the project, and timelines should be documented in a written contract and signed by both parties.

Another easy thing you can do is ask for references from past clients. Checking out a contractor’s work history and gauging the satisfaction of the people who have hired them before can only help you. The more you know the better.

Also, another great way to have your own back is to check your contractor’s proof of insurance coverage. You want to be sure that the contractor carries liability insurance and workers’ comp coverage so that there are no unpleasant surprises later down the line.

We don’t have to tell you that accidents and injuries come up in construction frequently, so before you enter a new contract, make sure you understand the liability that you are taking on.


The take-home advice is to do whatever you can to avoid hiring an unlicensed contractor.

The lack of a license might indicate that your contractor lacks the necessary skills and expertise required for delivering high-quality work.

Substandard, non-compliant workmanship leads to safety issues and legal troubles that you do not need in your life. If you unknowingly hire an unlicensed individual, both you and the contractor could potentially face serious penalties.

While it is not likely that an unlicensed contractor can sue you and win in a court of law, you still risk facing legal consequences eventually just by agreeing to let someone perform contractor work on your property without a license.

Additional Reading

CSLB – Before Hiring a Contractor
CSLB – Owner-Builders Beware!
Unlicensed Contractors: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
CSLB – Consequences of Contracting Without a License

The CSLB Contractor License And You: A Guide To The Qualifying Individual

When it comes to getting your CSLB contractor license so you can start doing legal construction work in the state of California, one of the biggest areas of confusion is around the concept of “qualifying individuals”.

Qualifying individuals, or QIs, are an essential part of the contractor licensing process – but the actual description of these critical stakeholders leaves a lot to be desired, especially for laymen like you and me.

In this article, we’ll cover the qualifying individual for the CSLB contractor license. What is a qualifying individual? How does it affect the contractor’s license process? Do you need a qualifying individual for your solar panel contractor’s license?

Let’s find out.

What is a “Qualifying Individual”?

A qualifying individual, or “qualifier,” is a person listed in the California Contractors State License Board’s (CSLB) records who meets the experience and examination requirements set by the CSLB and is responsible for the compliance of the contracting business with state regulations.

These are your licensed contractors, who have been through the CSLB wringer and come out the other side, with a polished contractor license and the experience and education to boot! However – they do not need to be licensed contractors themselves!

It’s important to note that every license with the CSLB requires a qualifier. A qualifier takes many forms; they may be a Sole Owner, Qualifying Partner, Responsible Managing Employee (RME), Responsible Managing Officer (RMO), Responsible Managing Manager, or Responsible Managing Member​.

That means that even you, as a one-man construction team, may be a qualifying individual! Likewise, in a giant construction firm, there may be several qualifying individuals who oversee the rest of the construction team and have the qualifications and expertise to do construction work.

In many contexts, a qualifying individual is basically a boss. They’re your foreman or company’s principal contractor – a CSLB license holder who is qualified to oversee construction work in accordance with their license. That means that even “unlicensed” contractors can do work under the supervision of this contractor.

What Does a Qualifying Individual or Qualifier Do?

The qualifier is responsible for exercising direct supervision and control of the employer’s or principal’s construction operations to ensure full compliance with the rules and regulations of the CSLB and local ordinances​.

In plain English, a qualifying individual is where the buck stops with regard to construction projects. A qualifying individual oversees the entire construction process in line with their license, even if they don’t do the work themselves.

For example, maybe a C-10 Electrical Contractor has an electrician’s apprentice working under them. In that scenario, the electrician is a qualifying individual for the C-10 license – and under that agreement, the electrician’s apprentice may perform electrical work, legally.

However, the qualifying individual – the contractor license holder – is ultimately responsible for the end product of the work, and is personally liable for any issues caused by the work of the people they are responsible for.

To use our electrical example again, if an apprentice causes electrical issues for the client, the C-10 electrician is ultimately responsible – not the apprentice!

What’s the Difference Between a Qualifying Individual and a CSLB License Holder?

A CSLB license holder is the entity or individual that holds the contractor’s license, while the qualifying individual is the person responsible for ensuring the license holder’s compliance with state regulations​.

Very often, license holders and qualifying individuals are one and the same. Your contracting company’s business structure will largely dictate your QI situation. Sole proprietors are often both the license holders and qualifying individuals for their own licenses. However, as business structures change and become more complex, who is the qualifying individual and who is allowed to work under their license becomes more challenging.

In many cases, qualifying individuals may be the organization’s head officer, who holds a contractor’s license of their own. Underneath their license, their employees may be able to perform the work outlined in their license classification. In this arrangement, the license holder/qualifying individual is responsible for the work of anyone working under their license!
Who Can Be a Qualifier or Qualifying Individual?

Eligibility for a qualifying individual varies based on the business structure and the level of construction expertise within the company.

A qualifying individual can be a Sole Owner, Qualifying Partner, Responsible Managing Employee (RME), Responsible Managing Officer (RMO), Responsible Managing Manager, or Responsible Managing Member. All of these have different levels of responsibility and liability, but ultimately it all means the same thing – these people hold the license and allow others to work under them under that same license.

Really, almost any management-level contractor can be a qualifying individual, so long as they meet the requirements to be a qualifying individual.

Types of Qualifying Individuals

There’s 7 types of qualifying individuals in the state. All of these have the same power and ability to oversee construction in their various specializations.

  • Responsible Managing Employee (RME): An employee of the contracting firm who is responsible for supervising construction activities and ensuring compliance with regulations. RMEs must be bona fide employees, working at least 32 hours per week or 80% of the total business operating hours per week, whichever is less.
    • It’s critical to note that RMEs cannot be a qualifier on any other active CSLB license. This is the only license they can be responsible for.
  • Responsible Managing Officer (RMO): An officer of a corporation or a member/manager of an LLC who is responsible for the construction activities of the business. These are often retired or promoted construction professionals like general contractors.
  • Qualifying Partner: In a partnership, one of the general partners is designated as the qualifier for the license. They are responsible for the supervision and control of the construction operations of the partnership, while the other partner is allowed to do work under that license.
  • Responsible Managing Manager/Member: In an LLC, a manager is designated as the qualifier for the license. Similar to an RMO, RMMs are responsible for overseeing the construction operations and ensuring compliance with regulations​​.
  • Sole Owner: An individual who owns the contracting business and is responsible for all aspects of the construction operations, including compliance with regulations and standards. This is most construction professionals in the state.

Bond of Qualifying Individual (BQI)

A bond of qualifying individual or BQI is a type of surety bond required for qualifying individuals who are not owners of the business.

This bond is similar to a contractor’s bond, protecting the end customer in the event of a contractor breaching a contract. However, this bond is actually held in addition to a contractor’s bond when acquired via a qualifier.

Like the contractor’s bond, the CSLB requires any license qualified by an RME to hold a QBI bond in the amount of $25,000. This is only for RME-qualified licenses.

If the bond is qualified by an RMO, however, the QBI might not be required. In instances where the RMO does not own at least 10% of the voting stock of the corporation. If they own more than 10%, the RMO must complete a Bond of Qualifying Individual Exemption Certification.

Here’s the additional requirements for the Bond of Qualifying Individual as per the CSLB.

  • The bond must be written by a surety company licensed through the California Department of Insurance.
  • The bond must be for $25,000
  • The business name, license number, and qualifier’s name on the bond must correspond exactly with the information on the CSLB’s records.
  • The bond must have the signature of the attorney-in-fact for the surety company.
  • The bond must be written on a form approved by the Attorney General’s Office.
  • The bond must be received at the CSLB’s Headquarters Office within 90 days of the effective date of the bond.

Do You Need a Contractor’s License to Do Construction Work If Your Boss Is A Qualifier?

In California, anyone who wants to perform work on a project valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must hold a current, valid license from the CSLB.

However, this is where the beauty of qualifying individuals comes in. If you are an employee working under the supervision of a licensed contractor or qualifying individual, you do not need your own contractor’s license. The qualifying individual, typically your boss, is responsible for ensuring that the work complies with state regulations and standards, and thereby takes responsibility for your work.

Can Employees Without Contractor’s Licenses Do Construction Work Under a Company-Wide Contracting License?

Yes, employees without contractor’s licenses can perform construction work under a company-wide contracting license, as long as the work is supervised by a licensed contractor or a qualifying individual.

As we’ve stated numerous times in this article, the licensed contractor or qualifying individual is ultimately responsible for the quality of work and compliance with state regulations.

Employees do not need individual licenses to work on projects as long as they are working under the umbrella of the company’s license​​ – but they may need additional licenses if the construction work falls outside of the scope of the QI’s license.
Who Is Liable For Damages Under A Qualifying Individual?

If there’s an issue with an employee’s work under a qualifying individual’s license, the qualifying individual (and potentially the licensed contractor or company) is held liable for damages or non-compliance in 99% of cases. This is how the QI system is designed.

The qualifier is responsible for exercising direct supervision and control of the construction operations to ensure compliance with regulations. In case of any disciplinary actions due to non-compliance or poor workmanship, both the license and the qualifier may face consequences, but again, usually, it is the license holder or QI who is responsible for damages.
Do Qualifying Individuals Need A Valid CSLB License?

Surprisingly – no! You do not need to have a contractor’s license to be a qualifying individual!

The only requirement to be a qualifying individual is that you must meet the experience and examination requirements. A qualifying individual does not actually need to have a CSLB license, strangely enough.

Can Someone Else Be a Qualifying Individual for Another Person’s Contractor’s License?

Yes, someone else can be a qualifying individual for another person’s contractor’s license, provided they meet the necessary requirements​.

That’s the entire point of a qualifying individual – it allows people without contractor’s licenses to “borrow” a licensed contractor’s license to perform construction work.
Do I Need to Be a Qualifying Individual to Get a Contractor’s License?

Yes, every CSLB license requires a qualifying individual who has demonstrated knowledge and experience. A qualifying individual can be yourself – so no worries there!

How to Find a Qualifier/RME/RMO?

Finding a qualified RME or RMO involves networking, using recruitment agencies, and exploring online platforms like LinkedIn and industry-specific job boards.

Consulting firms that specialize in providing RME or RMO services for contractors who need a qualifier can also be a resource​​ but are harder to find.

The best way to find a qualifier is your local network – surely you know some licensed contractors in your area that would allow you to do construction work for them! Reach out and see if they’ll help you out!

Guide to Liability Insurance for Contractors in California

Starting your career as a construction contractor in California? Or maybe you’re a seasoned contractor who has recently had liability issues crop up unexpectedly? Or maybe you’ve got an eye out for legislative changes that will require contractors to have general liability insurance.

At any rate, general liability insurance is something that all construction contractors should be familiar with – no matter your specialization, license classification, or area of operation. If you don’t have general liability insurance for your contracting business, this article will get you up to speed on what it is, why it’s important, and why you must have general liability insurance for all projects and businesses going forward.

What is Liability Insurance?

Liability insurance is a type of insurance policy that protects individuals and businesses against the risk of being held legally liable for actions or inactions that cause injury or damage to third parties.

It can protect individuals or businesses from any sort of damage occurring under one’s purview. In other words, liability insurance makes sure your buns are covered in the case of an on-site disaster.

Liability insurance, in practice, is usually applied in the case of legal proceedings. Liability insurance will usually cover the costs associated with legal defense, settlements, or judgments awarded to the injured party, as well as any additional costs that relate to the incident.

Basically, general liability insurance makes it so you, the contractor, aren’t personally or financially responsible for anything that goes wrong on a job site.

The reality is that it’s not a question of if, but when something goes wrong on a construction site – liability insurance is there to protect you from being personally liable when that happens, protecting you from financial losses.

What is General Liability Insurance And How Is It Different From Regular Liability Insurance?

General liability insurance is a subset of liability insurance. General liability insurance is specifically designed to protect businesses, including contractors and contracting businesses. When a company has general liability insurance, the policy provides coverage for third-party claims of bodily injury, property damage, and personal and advertising injury.

As we’ve previously established, general liability insurance is the type of insurance that contractors should be looking for to protect their contracting business. General liability insurance is essential for contractors as it protects them from financial losses resulting from accidents or injuries that occur on the job site or as a result of their operations – an inevitability in this industry!

Liability Insurance vs. Contractor’s/Surety Bonds

If you’re a contractor, you should already be intimately familiar with contractor’s bonds aka surety bonds – but what’s the difference between a surety or contractor’s bond and liability insurance?

The primary difference between contractor bonds and liability insurance is protected by these legal frameworks.

Surety bonds are required by the CSLB as they protect the consumer from malpractice on a contractor’s side of things. Surety/contractor bonds give the homeowner or property owner legal and fiscal recourse if a contractor does not fulfill their end of the contract, as the contractor bond company pays the client for their losses.

Unlike the contractor’s bond, which exists to protect the consumer, liability insurance is there to protect the contractor. It protects the contractor in the event of injury on a job site where the contractor is usually liable for damages, by essentially taking the responsibility of reward and compensating the parties who are damaged by the accident or issue.

In short: contractor’s bonds protect the client, customer, or consumer of construction services. It ensures that the contractor will fulfill their end of the bargain as laid out in the contract. Meanwhile, liability insurance protects the contractor from being pursued for financial damages in the case of a job site accident.

What Does Liability Insurance Cover?

Liability insurance for contractors typically covers:

  • Bodily Injury: Medical expenses and legal fees associated with injuries to third parties.
  • Property Damage: Costs to repair or replace damaged property belonging to third parties.
  • Product and Completed Operations: Claims related to the contractor’s work after the project is completed. There may be overlap here with a contractor’s bond, in some situations. Liability insurance adds another layer of protection for contractors.
  • Personal and Advertising Injury: Claims of slander, libel, or copyright infringement. This is pretty common in the construction industry, where advertising laws are rarely enforced.

Examples of incidents where liability insurance comes into play in construction include accidents resulting in injuries to clients or bystanders, damage to neighboring properties, and – rarely – legal disputes over advertising practices​​.

Do You Need Liability Insurance to be a California Contractor?

No, contractors in California are not legally required to have liability insurance to operate legally – although the CSLB highly recommends it!

Not having liability insurance for your business as a contractor is practically a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Life-destroying consequences lurk around every corner on construction job sites – leaving you open to extreme pain when something inevitably goes wrong.

Considering the enormous financial costs related to construction job injuries and damages, you could be looking at thousands or even millions of dollars for any issue, liability insurance is a powerful safeguard against financial and legal penalties that come with construction.

There’s also the possibility that these requirements could change in the near future. Considering the recent changes to bond limits and the requirement for all contractors to have workers’ compensation insurance – even without employees – by 2026, there’s a good chance that the CSLB will also require contractors to have liability insurance.

Don’t wait until liability insurance becomes mandatory. Paying for insurance stinks, but the reality is that you will run into a workplace incident at some point in your career, and when the court comes a-calling, you’re going to wish you had liability insurance. Trust us – it’s worth the money!

For the Contractors Asking “Do I Need College?”

One of the most attractive things about pursuing a career in construction is that you do not need a college degree to break in – not many of us contractors are “classroom” people, right? But after spending a little time in the construction industry, you might start to notice how a college education can benefit you in a big way.

Going after a college degree may not be altogether necessary, but it is a compelling option for some. In this article, we’ll go over the educational requirements for becoming a contractor and how having a college degree might affect your pathway to a career in construction.

What Kind of Contractor Should I Be?

When deciding whether you need college as a contractor, first you must decide what type of construction contractor you want to be. Do you want to be an HVAC specialist? Or do you want to be a construction engineer (which does require a college degree)?

Most people who go into the construction contracting business end up becoming general contractors. Why?

It’s simple – general contracting work is the most general type of contracting work. General contractors have general construction knowledge instead of the years of craft-related training you see in Class C specialties. There is also an almost infinite ceiling for general contractors; you can grow your business as big as you want!

When it comes to being a general contractor, you first need a Class B General Contractor’s License from the CSLB to do any sort of general contracting work in the state of California.

How do you get a license?

Let’s start with the basics (and the reason for this article): you are required to have four years’ worth of hands-on experience to become a licensed general contractor. This is the most significant barrier to entry for would-be general contractors – and a college education can be a workaround.

Once you have the experience, you also need to pass the Contractor State License Board (CSLB) exam and apply for your general contractor license – as we explain in our How To Become A General Contractor After High School In California guide

Throughout the process of obtaining your license, you will notice very quickly how the job of a general contractor necessitates a collaborative spirit. Since general contractors oversee construction projects from start to finish, they interact with a lot of different kinds of people.

Managing professional relationships and clear communication with clients, architects, subcontractors, and suppliers is an essential workplace skill for a general contractor.

Responding to the needs of so many different voices, all while keeping the project running safely, on time, and on budget — you can probably imagine the pressure. This is where a built-in network full of college alumni contacts could help in the long run. But more on that later.

Educational Requirements

The only formal education that is actually required to become a general contractor is a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED (General Education Development). Beyond the basic educational requirement, having a firm grasp of basic math, the ability to read blueprints and clear communication skills are all must-haves for general contractors.

In addition to those fundamentals, contractors benefit from vocational training and apprenticeships to gain practical skills in the field. Working alongside seasoned vets in construction, you’ll gain insights into the industry that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Not to mention the hard skills that you’ll acquire from getting on-the-job experience. Getting comfortable in various construction roles like carpentry, plumbing or electrical work is tremendously valuable for contractors who are just starting out and working their way up.

See our article on how to become a general contractor after high school with online courses for some easy tips on preparing to become a Class B contractor.

Licensing Requirements

The only fancy piece of paper that you absolutely need to become a general contractor is a Class B General Building Contractor License.

No matter your area of operation, you will no doubt learn a lot as you go through the process of securing your license. It’s a necessary learning experience during which you’ll have to demonstrate a certain amount of construction experience and skill. The journey to becoming a Class B license holder involves a lot of on-the-job training – so it’s really like you’re going to school without sitting in a classroom!

To obtain a Class B License, you have to be at least 18, pass a state-specific exam, and pay the fees involved with licensing. You’ll also have to get liability insurance and bonding. Check out our recent post, Updated For 2024: CSLB Bonds and Insurance For California Contractors to get the latest info on what you’ll need.

Trade Schools and Technical Colleges

While not required along the path to becoming a general contractor, trade schools and technical colleges offer specialized programs in construction-related fields.

Studying construction management, project planning, budgeting, and legal regulations in a focused environment like this could make all the difference for some contractors.

Earning a certificate or an associate’s degree can build trust with potential clients and ultimately enhance your ability to be hired.

General Contractors and Bachelor’s Degrees

Although a formal college education is not necessary for getting into the construction business, roughly 45% of general contractors have bachelor’s degrees.

A bachelor’s degree can open doors to advanced positions like project management or construction management. Taking on higher-level roles is the goal for a lot of people because of the robust compensation and benefits that those opportunities promise.

Getting a bachelor’s degree also allows contractors to develop a more comprehensive, well-rounded understanding of business and management in general. So if personal plans and goals change it makes a career shift more feasible.

If an aspiring contractor attends a college or university and gets that traditional campus life experience, this opens them up to meet life-long friends and potential business associates. Having a built-in cohort is a huge benefit no matter what your chosen career may be.

Networking and mentoring are invaluable experiences that will help you grow as an individual worker and potential business owner.

You can certainly get this experience without a college degree. However, having alumni connections with other people in your field is a significant benefit to consider if you’re thinking about pursuing a college or university experience.


If you’re asking, “Do general contractors need college?” The easy answer is no – a college degree is not mandatory to pursue this career path in the construction industry.

The only totally necessary education is a combination of a high school diploma (or equivalent), vocational training, licensing, and additional certifications and apprenticeships as desired.

Depending on your aspirations and personal preferences, however, you might benefit from adding a college degree to your arsenal. A well-rounded academic background and a tight network of alumni connections could increase your potential for taking on higher-level management roles – allowing you to reach new levels in your construction journey.

The C-10 Electrical Contractor’s License: A Comprehensive Guide

We’re back again with another license guide for aspiring contractors. This week, we’ll cover one of the most coveted contractor’s licenses in the state of California: The C-10 electrical contractor’s license.

This license is, as you might guess, critical to anyone doing high-voltage electrical work in California. That goes for almost any commercial and residential job in the State.

Unless you want to work solely on low-voltage electrical systems – as C-7 Low Voltage Systems contractors do – you’re going to need a C-10 electrical license to work as an electrician in the state of California.

Considering the serious consequences of unlicensed contractor work, a C-10 license is the first step any electrician must take when working in the state.

What Does an Electrical Contractor Do?

An electrical contractor is an electrician – any professional responsible for designing, installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical systems in residential, commercial, and industrial properties throughout the state.

While a C-10 license holder usually works on high voltage (more than 91 volts) systems, they may also perform low voltage work usually reserved for C-7 license holders. They ensure that all electrical work complies with state and local codes and standards.

What is a C-10 Electrical Contractor License?

The C-10 Electrical Contractor License is a certification issued by the California State Licensing Board (CSLB) that allows individuals, partnerships, or corporations to legally undertake high-voltage electrical work in California.

This license covers the installation, erection, or connection of electrical wires, fixtures, solar photovoltaic cells, appliances, and more. Basically, you need a C-10 electrician’s license when you work on any systems which “generate, transmit, transform, or utilize electrical energy in any form or for any purpose”, as per the CSLB.

Who Needs a C-10 License?

Any electrician, sparky, electrical contractor, or anyone working on electrical systems over 91 volts needs a C-10 license.

Anyone planning to perform electrical work in California where the total cost (including labor and materials) exceeds $500 must obtain a C-10 license. This includes contractors, subcontractors, and specialty contractors involved in electrical work.

Technically you only need a C-10 license if you’re doing work that costs over $500 for labor and materials – but let’s be honest, if you’re interested in becoming an electrician or getting an electrical contractor’s license, you’re not doing it for the small jobs.

Pretty much any job you’re working on as an electrician is going to cost more than $500, so get a C-10 license if you want to be an electrician in California.

How to Get a C-10 License in California?

To obtain a C-10 license, you must:

Difference Between a C-10 and C-7 Contractor License

The C-10 license is specific to electrical contractors and covers a broader range of electrical work, including high-voltage installations. The C-7 license is for low-voltage systems contractors who work with systems that do not exceed 91 volts.

C-10 license holders can work on jobs typically designated for C-7 license holders. This includes small jobs like low voltage lights for decks and patios, cable installations, surround sound system installs, gates and garages, and so on.

Key Duties of a C-10 Contractor

Key responsibilities of a C-10 contractor include:

  • Planning and estimating electrical projects.
  • Installing and maintaining electrical systems.
  • Collaborating with other departments to ensure quality.
  • Ensuring compliance with safety and code requirements.
  • Troubleshooting and repairing electrical issues.
  • Wiring. Lots of wiring.

What Licenses Are Good To Combine With A C-10 Contractor License?

Considering how important electricity is in today’s world, electrical contractors may be involved in all kinds of different construction jobs. In many cases, you may wish to add another license to help take advantage of your broad – but specific – knowledge. Some great licenses to pair with a C-10 contractor license include:

  • Class B-General Building Contractor: This classification allows contractors to work on a wide range of construction projects, including residential and commercial buildings. Having both C-10 and Class B licenses enables contractors to offer integrated services, such as installing low-voltage systems during new construction or renovation projects.
  • C-20 HVAC Contractor: To quote the Adam Sandler classic Big Daddy, electricians and HVAC go together like lamb and tuna fish. Considering the electrical load that HVAC systems demand, a C-20 license is great for electricians who want to seamlessly expand into heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services. Especially as we look forward in 2024 – HVAC will continue to be in high demand.
  • C-46 Solar Contractor: As electrical contractor’s licenses technically cover “photovoltaic electrical systems”, the C-10 license dovetails nicely with the booming field of solar installation. The C-46 license explicitly allows you to work on solar systems, and the C-10 license lets you rig them up with juice.

Common Types of Jobs for a C-10 Contractor

Jobs typically handled by C-10 contractors include:

  • Electrical system installations for new construction.
  • Upgrading electrical panels and systems in existing buildings.
  • Installing lighting and electrical fixtures.
  • Wiring for home automation and security systems.
  • Maintenance and repair of electrical systems.

For more detailed information on obtaining a C-10 Electrical Contractor’s License in California, refer to the official Contractors State License Board (CSLB) website and other reliable sources in the field​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.