Updated For 2023: How to Get A Contractor’s License in California

Let’s not waste any time – here’s the most direct, easiest way to get your Contractors State License Board (CSLB) contractor’s license in California in the year 2023.

Step 1: Determine the Type of License You Need

The CSLB offers three main types of licenses:

  1. Class A Contractor License – General Engineering Contractor: This is for engineers and projects that require specialized engineering knowledge and skill. Usually, this is public works – projects like highways, bridges, and public works projects.
  2. Class B Contractor License – General Building Contractor: Any contractor that works on structures that require at least two unrelated building trades or crafts, such as residential and commercial construction.
    1. Class B-2 Contractor LicenseGeneral Remodeling Contractor: Contractors who work SOLELY on improvements or repairs to existing structures. B-2 holders cannot work on new construction.
  3. Class C Contractor License – Speciality Contractor: Specialty licenses are required for contractors who work in specific trades like HVAC or plumbing.

There are 41 Class C classifications offered by the CSLB, and they cover practically any construction trade you can think of.

You can see the full list of CSLB Class C classifications here.

Step 2: Meet the Minimum Requirements

Before applying for a contractor’s license in California, you have to meet some basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old
    • You must be 23 to apply for a Class B General Contractor license
  • Have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Possess at least four years of journey-level experience in your chosen classification

Step 3: Prepare for the CSLB Exam

After ensuring you satisfy all the basic requirements to even apply for the CSLB exam, the next step is taking the infamously difficult CSLB exam.

This two-part exam takes roughly FOUR HOURS and consists of 200+ questions about the construction business, law, and your specific trade. It is an absolute doozy – a test that is designed to really test contractors’ knowledge and expertise – so it’s no wonder so many people fail it. 

The CSLB provides study guides and resources to help you prepare – in English and Spanish – but the ultimate way to make sure you pass the CSLB exam the first time is by taking an exam prep course with a reputable company.

These courses exist solely to help contractors pass the exam first try – so if you want the easiest and quickest route to your contractor’s license, taking a CSLB exam prep course – like those offered by CSLS – is a no-brainer.

Step 4: Complete the Application Process

Once you’re ready to apply, follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a Fingerprint Live Scan, as all applicants must undergo a criminal background check.
  2. Complete the Application for Original Contractor License (Form 13L-50).
  3. Pay the non-refundable $330 application fee.
  4. Provide proof of your work experience
  5. Designate a qualifying individual (either yourself or someone else) responsible for the license’s activities.
  6. Submit a contractor’s bond in the amount of $25,000, which ensures compliance with California’s contracting laws.
  7. Submit proof of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Mail your completed application and supporting documents to the CSLB headquarters. After reviewing your application, they will schedule your exams. You can also apply online now at the CSLB website.

Step 5: Pass the Examinations and Pay Licensing Fees

After submitting all the application paperwork and proving that you are legally able to be a licensed contractor in California, you will have to take the dreaded CSLB exam.

If you’ve studied well and prepared yourself adequately to achieve a 72% grade on both exams, you will receive a Notice of Examination Pass. Nowadays, you will receive that information basically right after receiving the test. 

Within 60 days of receiving this notice, pay the following fees:

  • $200 initial licensing fee
  • $100 Contractor’s Bond registration fee (if not previously registered)

Once you’ve completed these steps, the CSLB will issue your contractor’s license.

Step 6: Maintain Your License

To keep your contractor’s license active in California, you must:

  • Renew it every two years
  • Maintain a $25,000 Contractor’s Bond
  • Comply with Workers’ Compensation Insurance requirements
    • Every subcontractor on your job site must be covered by Workers’ Comp!
  • Complete continuing education requirements, if applicable


Getting a contractor’s license in California is a significant milestone for any aspiring contractor. By following this comprehensive guide, you can navigate the process with confidence, pass the required exams, and secure your license. Don’t forget to invest in your professional development, stay updated on industry trends, and implement efficient business practices to maximize your success in the Golden State.


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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.