What Contractor License Do I Need In California?

Are you a construction professional in California – or a construction professional in another state and looking to move to California for work?

Then you’ll need a California Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) contractor’s license to perform any job with a value over $500! 

But what kind of license do you need to legally perform your work in California? We’ve got you covered with this easy-to-understand article.

Overview of California Contractor License Classifications

California offers a wide range of contractor licenses, with over 40 classifications available to cover various trades. These licenses fall into three primary categories:

  1. Class A – General Engineering Contractor: This license is for contractors whose primary business involves fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill.
  2. Class B – General Building Contractor: The B license is for contractors who build or remodel structures, including those intended for human habitation.
    1. Class B-2 – Remodeling Contractor
  3. Class C – Specialty Contractor: The C license covers various trades and crafts, with over 40 specific classifications under this category.

Each classification has unique requirements and authorizes the contractor to perform particular tasks. Let’s explore some of the most common C-Specialty Contractor classifications.

Popular C-Specialty Contractor Classifications in California

Below is a list of some common C-Specialty Contractor classifications, including their classification code and a brief description:

  • C-2 – Insulation and Acoustical: Installation of insulation and acoustical treatments.
  • C-4 – Boiler, Hot Water Heating, and Steam Fitting: Work with boilers, hot water heating systems, and steam fitting.
  • C-5 – Framing and Rough Carpentry: Construction and installation of rough and finish carpentry.
  • C-6 – Cabinet, Millwork, and Finish Carpentry: Creation and installation of cabinets, millwork, and finish carpentry.
  • C-7 – Low Voltage Systems: Work on low voltage systems, such as alarm systems and communication devices.
  • C-8 – Concrete: Concrete projects, including pouring, finishing, and reinforcement.
  • C-9 – Drywall: Installation of drywall and related materials.
  • C-10 – Electrical: Electrical system installation, maintenance, and repair.
  • C-11 – Elevator: Installation and repair of elevators and related equipment.
  • C-12 – Earthwork and Paving: Grading, excavation, and paving projects.
  • C-13 – Fencing: Construction and repair of fences and related structures.
  • C-15 – Flooring and Floor Covering: Installation and repair of various flooring types, including carpet, hardwood, and tile.
  • C-16 – Fire Protection: Installation and maintenance of fire protection systems, such as sprinklers and alarms.
  • C-17 – Glazing: Installation and repair of glass and glass-related products.
  • C-20 – Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning: Installation and repair of HVAC systems.
  • C-21 – Building Moving/Demolition: Building relocation and demolition projects.
  • C-22 – Asbestos Abatement: Removal and encapsulation of asbestos-containing materials.
  • C-23 – Ornamental Metal: Fabrication and installation of ornamental metal products.
  • C-27 – Landscaping: Construction, maintenance, and repair of landscape projects.
  • C-28 – Lock and Security Equipment: Installation and repair of locks, safes, and security systems.
  • C-29 – Masonry: Masonry work, including the construction and repair of brick, stone, and concrete structures.
  • C-31 – Construction Zone Traffic Control: Management of traffic flow within construction zones.
  • C-32 – Parking and Highway Improvement: Installation and repair of parking facilities, highways, and related improvements.
  • C-33 – Painting and Decorating: Painting, finishing, and decorating services for various surfaces and structures.
  • C-34 – Pipeline: Installation and repair of pipelines for water, gas, and other substances.
  • C-35 – Lathing and Plastering: Application and repair of lathing and plastering materials.
  • C-36 – Plumbing: Installation and repair of plumbing systems, including fixtures and appliances.
  • C-38 – Refrigeration: Installation and repair of refrigeration systems and equipment.
  • C-39 – Roofing: Installation and repair of various roofing materials and systems.
  • C-42 – Sanitation System: Covers the installation, maintenance, and repair of septic tanks and other sanitation systems.
  • C-43 – Sheet Metal: Fabrication and installation of sheet metal products.
  • C-45 – Sign: Authorizes the installation and repair of signs, including electrical and non-electrical signs.
  • C-46 – Solar: Installation and repair of solar energy systems.
  • C-47 – General Manufactured Housing: Construction, remodeling, and repair of manufactured housing units.
  • C-50 – Reinforcing Steel: Involves the installation of reinforcing steel in concrete structures.
  • C-51 – Structural Steel: Fabrication and erection of structural steel components.
  • C-53 – Swimming Pool: Covers the construction and repair of swimming pools, spas, and related equipment.
  • C-54 – Ceramic and Mosaic Tile: Authorizes the installation and repair of ceramic and mosaic tile work.
  • C-55 – Water Conditioning: Installation and repair of water conditioning systems and equipment.
  • C-57 – Well Drilling: Involves the drilling and installation of water wells.
  • C-60 – Welding: Covers welding projects, such as structural steel and pipe welding.
  • C-61 – Limited Specialty: A broad category for various limited specialties not covered by other classifications.
  • C-63 – Construction Clean-up: Cleaning and waste removal services for construction sites.

For a complete list of California contractor license classifications, visit the CSLB Licensing Classifications page!

Choosing the Right License for Your Trade

When determining “What contractor license do I need in California?”, consider the specific tasks and projects you’ll be undertaking. After looking at the list of CSLB classifications, you probably already know what kind of license you’ll need – but remember that you may need multiple licenses to perform some types of work.

For example, a landscaping contractor (a C-27 license holder) may also need a C-8 Concrete License if they frequently construct patios, walkways, or retaining walls. A general contractor may need an electrical license if he’s also installing outlets.

In Conclusion

Obtaining the appropriate contractor license is a critical step in establishing a successful and legally compliant business in California. By understanding the various classifications and their requirements, you can confidently select the right license for your trade and ensure your business operates within the state’s regulations.

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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.