What Are the Different Types of Contractor’s Licenses in California?

If you’re a construction contractor in California working on jobs over $500, you have to have a license with the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in order to legally perform work in the state. 

However, there are a number of different classes of licenses provided by the CSLB, all of which cover different areas of construction in California. 

It can be confusing to know exactly which type of license you need for a particular job – so let’s take a look at the various licenses to make sure you know exactly which type of license you need.

Class A – General Engineering Contractor
The Class “A” license is the General Engineering Contractor’s license. This license is specifically for engineers – for people whose “principal business is in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill.”

You need a Class A license if your business involves specialized engineering knowledge in areas such as: irrigation, drainage, harbors, hydroelectric projects, airports, tunnels, bridges, parks, streets, sewage, and so on.

The Class A license is for engineers who have a 4-year degree in engineering. You must still fulfill all the other obligations of the other CSLB licenses.

Class B – General Building Contractor
The most popular of all the CSLB licenses, the Class B General Building Contractor License is for any contractor whose business involves building homes or shelters for people, animals or other property. 

A Class B license is required for:

  • Anyone building a structure built as a home or other shelter for people, animals or property
  • Any construction of a structure involving at least two trades
  • Jobs over $500

A person with a Class B License can:

  • Oversee full construction of structures designed for shelter of people, animals, or property
  • Perform any carpentry or framing work
  • Subcontract out trade work

A person with a Class B License cannot:

  • Take a contract for trade work involving anything other than framing or carpentry unless it involves two unrelated trades other than framing or carpentry
  • Take any subcontract for trade work involving trades other than carpentry or framing, unless the subcontract requires two unrelated trades other than carpentry or framing

Class B-2 – Residential Remodeling Contractor
A Class B-2 contract is very similar to the Class B contract, but it is for people whose sole business is remodeling, or as the CSLB puts it: “a contractor whose contracting business is…to make improvements on or in an existing residential wood frame structure.”

A Class B-2 License is required for:

  • Anyone who does remodeling of existing structures as their primary business
  • Jobs over $500

A person with a Class B-2 License can:

  • Work on any remodeling project involving three unrelated building trades
  • Take prime contracts for trades or crafts such as drywall, flooring, siding, painting and so no.
  • Self-perform or subcontract any trades out to licensed subcontractors

A person with a Class B-2 License cannot:

  • Work on any job that requires a build from scratch – it must be remodeling
  • Work on any remodeling jobs that require less than 3 unrelated trades
  • Do fire protection, asbestos abatement, or well drilling work without the appropriate specialty license


Class C – Specialty Contractor’s License
A Class C license from the CSLB is required for anyone whose operations require special skills and whose contracting business requires the use of these specialized building skills. There are currently 65 different specialties that require a Class C license.

Essentially, you need a Class C license if you are a specialty tradesperson as your primary contracting business.

If you perform any specialized work in the following trades, you need a Class C License from the CSLB:

  • Insulation and acoustical
  • Boiler, Hot-Water Heating, and Steam Fitting
  • Framing and Rough Carpentry
  • Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry
  • Low Voltage Systems
  • Concrete
  • Drywall
  • Electrical
  • Elevator
  • Earthwork and Paving
  • Fencing
  • Flooring and Floor Covering
  • Fire Protection
  • Glazing
  • Warm-Air Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC)
  • Building Moving/Demolition
  • Asbestos Abatement
  • Ornamental Metal
  • Landscaping
  • Lock and Security Equipment
  • Masonry
  • Construction Zone Traffic Control
  • Parking and Highway Improvement
  • Painting and Decorating
  • Pipeline
  • Lathing and Plastering
  • Plumbing
  • Refrigeration
  • Roofing
  • Sanitation System
  • Sheet Metal
  • Sign
  • Solar
  • General Manufactured Housing
  • Reinforcing Steel
  • Structural Steel
  • Swimming Pool
  • Ceramic and Mosaic Tile
  • Water Conditioning
  • Well Drilling
  • Welding


Which One Do I Need?
Which Contractor’s License you need from the CSLB depends on what kind of contracting you do primarily for your job.

If you’re an engineer, you need a Class “A” License.

If you’re a general contractor, you need a Class “B” License.

If you’re a remodeling contractor, you need a Class “B-2” License.

If you’re a tradesperson working in a specialized field of work, you need a Class “C” License.

Whatever license you need from the CSLB, CSLS can help you get there with extensive courses that will arm you with the knowledge you need to pass the CSLB exam and become a licensed contractor. Start your contracting business today with CSLS!

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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.