C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor’s License Guide in California

In California, the C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry contractor’s license is a specialized classification under the Class C Specialty License category, covering all “small job” carpentry – cabinets, millwork, and finishing.

If you want to work in this area in California, you’ll need a C-6 license to do it legally. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to start your career as a C-6 license holder.

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB)

The CSLB is the state agency in California responsible for licensing and regulating contractors in the construction industry, including the C-6 License.

Here’s what the CSLB is responsible for:

  • Application Process: The CSLB manages all the applications for a C-6 contractor
  • Qualifications and Experience: The CSLB sets eligibility criteria, including a combination of education, work experience, and/or apprenticeship training
  • Examinations: The CSLB administers the trade-specific and law & business exams necessary for licensure
  • Background Checks: The CSLB verifies the identity and criminal history of all contractors
  • Licensing and Renewal: The CSLB issues and renews all contractor licenses
  • Consumer Complaints and Investigations: The CSLB handles complaints and can take disciplinary action against contractors through their enforcement division, SWIFT.

The C-6 License: The Facts

CSLB Class C Specialty Licenses

The C-6 license falls under the Class C category of licenses, which encompasses 45 different specialized trades in California.

This specific license is required for contractors who wish to legally perform cabinet, millwork, and finish carpentry work in the state.

C-6 License Requirements

To obtain a C-6 license, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Possess 4 years of journeyman-level experience.
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN number.
  • Provide a signature from a licensed contractor, fellow employee, supervisor, or business associate.
  • Pass the CSLB exam
  • Provide a Contractor’s Bond in the amount of $25,000 to the CSLB

The C-6 Exam Process

The notoriously difficult CSLB licensing exam consists of two parts for every single license in California.

  • 115 questions on Law & Business.
  • 115 questions specifically on Cabinet Making, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry.

The exams are multiple-choice, closed-book, and computer-based, administered at CSLB Testing Facilities across California. Topics covered in the trade exam include planning and estimation, cabinetry and millwork fabrication, cabinet installation, and safety.

What Does a Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor Do?

A C-6 licensed contractor – as its name suggests – are contractors who are responsible for creating and installing cabinets, millwork (like moldings and trim), and finishing carpentry products.

Despite having carpentry skills, they are not carpenters who do things like framing or structural work – that’s the C-5 Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor License.

Though they can’t do structural work, C-6 license holders do work on both functional and aesthetic aspects of interior finishings, such as cases, sashes, doors, trims, and nonbearing partitions, often fabricating wood or other materials to enhance the visual appeal and functionality of interior spaces.

Who Needs a C-6 License?

Any professional or business intending to perform cabinet, millwork, and finish carpentry work on projects valued over $500 in California must have a C-6 license. Even if you are a C-5 license holder, you still need a C-6 license to do finishing, cabinetry, and millwork.

If you do cabinetry, millwork, or finishing carpentry that costs over $500 in total – you must have a C-6 license. If you don’t, you can face severe penalties.

Key Duties of a C-6 Contractor

A C-6 contractor primarily deals with:

  • Fabrication and installation of cabinets, cupboards, and counters.
  • Working on stairs, baseboards, trim, and other detailed woodwork.
  • Applying finishes like paint and stain to woodwork.
  • Utilizing various adhesives and mastics in carpentry projects.
  • Ensuring safety protocols are followed during work.

Common Types of Jobs for a C-6 Contractor

C-6 contractors in California typically undertake a variety of tasks that include:

  • Designing, building, and installing custom cabinets.
  • Crafting and installing millwork items like moldings, trims, and decorative woodwork.
  • Finishing carpentry projects, including stairs, baseboards, and trim work.
  • Refacing existing cabinets and millwork.
  • Installing doors and windows as part of the finish carpentry process.
  • Demolishing old cabinets and preparing sites for new installations.
  • Identifying and handling hazardous materials during renovation or installation projects.
  • Ensuring job site safety and managing waste and recycling materials.

Steps to Obtain a C-6 License in California

Obtaining a C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor license in California involves a multi-step application process that can take weeks or months to complete.

Here’s what you have to do to get A C-6 license.

  • Meet the Eligibility Criteria:
    • Ensure you are at least 18 years of age.
    • Have a minimum of 4 years of journeyman-level experience in the last 10 years.
    • Possess a valid Social Security or ITIN number.
  • Gather Documentation:
    • Prepare to provide evidence of your experience, such as tax returns, check stubs, contracts, or material order invoices.
    • Note that photos of projects are not accepted by the CSLB (Contractors State License Board).
  • Find a Certifier:
    • Your experience needs to be certified by an individual who can vouch for your skills and experience. This can be a licensed general contractor, a C-6 license holder, a fellow employee, a current or former supervisor, a business associate, a fellow journeyman, or a union representative.
  • Complete the Application:
    • Fill out the state application form, which requires detailed descriptions of your knowledge and skill set.
    • Be thorough and specific in the experience descriptions as the CSLB is strict with the application review process. Any issues or mistakes you make will only add time to getting your license – which will cost you time, money, and energy.
  • Pay the Application Fee:
    • Submit the application along with the necessary fees, which include a state application fee, license activation fee, and fingerprinting costs.
  • Background Check and Fingerprinting:
    • Undergo a background check. Be honest about any criminal history as the CSLB reviews these on a case-by-case basis.
    • Fingerprints will be taken as part of the background check process.
  • Prepare for and Schedule the Exam:
    • The exam process includes two tests: Law & Business and the trade-specific exam.
    • Utilize study guides and practice exams to prepare.
    • Once your application is processed, schedule your exam date.
  • Pass the Exam:
    • The C-6 Trade Exam covers topics like planning and estimation, cabinetry and millwork fabrication, cabinet and millwork installation, and safety.
    • The Law & Business exam covers business organization, finances, employment requirements, contract requirements, licensing requirements, safety, and more.
    • Both exams are multiple-choice and closed-book.
  • Post-Exam Requirements:
    • After passing the exam, you will need to provide proof of a contractor bond and workers’ compensation insurance.
    • The CSLB will issue your license upon completion of all requirements.
  • Maintain Your License:
    • Stay updated with any continuing education requirements and ensure timely renewal of your license.

What’s The Difference Between a C-5 and a C-6 License?

While both the C-5 and C-6 licenses cover the carpentry trade in one form or another, they are significantly different, with different requirements, rules, and regulations about what types of work each respective license can do.

The C-5 license is designated for contractors specializing in structural framing, custom carpentry, and woodwork. This includes services like specialized framing, wood design, sub-flooring, exterior staircases, custom windows and overhead doors, siding installation, and structural framing and home construction.

On the other hand, the C-6 license is focused on cabinet making, millwork, and finish carpentry. It covers a range of services like cabinet installation, millwork installation, and other finish carpentry tasks. The C-6 contractors are skilled in planning, fabricating, and installing detailed woodwork and cabinetry​​​​.


Acquiring a C-6 Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry Contractor’s license in California is a crucial step for professionals wishing to work in this field. Considering the cost of even the cheapest cabinet, pretty much any job is going to cost $500 – and therefore, require a license.

By understanding the requirements, preparing thoroughly for the exams, and completing the application process, contractors can expand their business scope and operate within California’s legal framework.

For detailed information on the CSLB requirements and the licensing process, you can visit the official CSLB website or refer to expert guides and resources provided by organizations like Digital Constructive and Contractor Campus​​​​​​​​​​​​.

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About CSLS

Contractors State License Service (CSLS) is the largest school in California devoted to the Construction professional. For over 23 years, CSLS has helped its students pass the exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California, licensing more students than any other school. From our main offices in Southern California, CSLS operates over 25 locations with full-service support and classrooms. We have grown to this extent by providing quality, professional services. In comparison, this provides 7 times the number of convenient locations than the second largest contractor school. Contractors State License Services is one of the only contractor schools in the state that is run by educators, not lawyers or people mostly interested in the bonding and insurance business. Contractors State License Services formerly operated under the oversight of the State of California's Bureau for Private Post Secondary and Vocational Education. As of January 1 2010, the new Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) came into existence replacing the BPPVE. CSLS now operates under the provisions of the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (CPPEA), Article 4 Section 94874(f). Our Mission is simple; We can help you pass your California Contractors License Exam. Celebrating our 25th year, CSLS has helped over 120,000 students pass the California contractor licensing exam to become licensed contractors in the State of California. Additionally, we offer complete home study and online contractor’s license programs to help you pass your California contractors license exam. CSLS offers licensing classes for all types of contractor licenses, including General Engineering Contractor, General Building Contractor, Specialty Contractor, Insulation and Acoustical Contractor, Framing and Rough Carpentry Contractor, Cabinet, Millwork and Finish Carpentry Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Drywall Contractor, Electrical Contractor, Elevator Contractor, Landscaping Contractor, Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor, and many others. For a complete list of contractor licenses, visit www.MakeMeAContractor.com and tuned for more informative posts.