How Long Does it Take to Get a Contractor’s License in California?

Getting a contractor’s license in California can be a daunting process, especially if you’re not sure how long it will take. From submitting your application to receiving your license, there are several steps and factors that can impact your timeline. 

In this article, we’ll break down the process of getting your license and the estimated time it takes to get a contractor’s license in California.

Step 1: Pre-Application Requirements (1-2 weeks)

Before you can apply for a contractor’s license in California, you need to fulfill certain pre-application requirements. 

These include providing the required documents such as your social security card and meeting experience and education requirements for your trade. This step can take 1-2 weeks or longer depending on how quickly you complete the requirements. 

For more information on what’s required to even apply for your CSLB license, visit the CSLB website at

Step 2: Submitting Your Application (4-6 weeks)

Once you’ve fulfilled the pre-application requirements, you can submit your application to the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB will review your application, conduct a background check, and verify your work experience and education.

This process can take up to 4-6 weeks or longer, depending on the complexity of your application and your status with the CSLB or other contractor licensing boards.

Step 3: Taking the Licensing Exam (2-4 weeks)

After your application is approved, you’ll need to take the CSLB licensing exam. The exam consists of two parts: a business and law exam, and a trade-specific exam. The trade-specific exam is tailored to your specific trade, and passing scores vary depending on the exam. 

The exam process can take 2-4 weeks or longer depending on exam availability and how long it takes you to study and prepare. 

You can significantly cut down on the time and energy you need to prepare for the exam by taking one of our courses, which are streamlined to make sure you pass the exam your first time. Check out our courses to get more information on classes and other proven methods to get your license as quickly as possible.

Step 4: Completing Post-Application Requirements (Varies)

After passing the licensing exam, you’ll need to fulfill post-application requirements. These include obtaining a contractor’s bond, submitting fingerprints for a criminal background check, and completing continuing education courses. 

The timeline for these requirements varies depending on the requirements themselves but can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete.

Step 5: Receiving Your License (4-6 weeks)

Once you’ve fulfilled all the requirements and passed the licensing exam, the CSLB will issue your contractor’s license. The timeline for receiving your license can take 4-6 weeks or longer, depending on the volume of applications and processing times.

Overall, the estimated timeline for getting a contractor’s license in California is approximately 3-6 months. 

However, this timeline can vary depending on individual circumstances, such as the complexity of your application, the availability of exams and courses, and processing times.

It’s important to note that you cannot legally perform any contracting work in California until you’ve received your contractor’s license, so it’s absolutely essential to plan ahead and allow enough time to complete all the necessary steps in the process.

Getting a contractor’s license in California takes time and effort. By understanding the estimated timeline and requirements, you can avoid unnecessary delays. Do what you can to speed up the process.

Passing the CSLB exam, for example, is often the biggest obstacle for those who haven’t taken it before – failing the CSLB exam can set you back months!

If you still have questions about the steps you need to take to get your contractor license, we can help. Contact us today and we can answer all of your questions.


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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 and tuned for more informative posts.