Becoming a Licensed General Contractor in California | Major Construction

Wondering how to become a licensed general contractor in California? Here's what you need to know, including the criteria and process involved.


5/1/20232 min read

Becoming a Licensed General Contractor in California

California is one of the most populous states in the nation and as a result, there is an ever-increasing demand for general contractors who are qualified to build and remodel homes, businesses, and other structures. The criteria and process to obtain a license can be complicated and varies from state to state, so if you're interested in becoming a licensed general contractor in California, read on for more information about the requirements.

Qualifications & Duties: In order to become a licensed general contractor in California, you must meet specific qualifications; you must be 18 years or older with at least four years of experience as a journeyman carpenter, bricklayer, framer, or in another related field. Additionally, you'll need to hold either a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university in construction management or engineering (with coursework related to building construction) or have completed an apprenticeship program sponsored by the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards. As a licensed general contractor in California, your duties would include overseeing all aspects of construction projects including planning, budgeting, organizing labor crews, ordering materials and supplies and supervising any subcontractors who may be on site.

Examination Requirements: Once you've met the qualifications mentioned above you must then pass two examinations – one testing your business knowledge and financial management skills as it relates to being a contractor (the Law & Business Exam) and another testing your technical knowledge (the Trade/Classification Exam). The Law & Business Exam is comprised of 85 questions designed to test your understanding of contracts and laws applicable to contractors. The Trade/Classification Exam will require that you demonstrate knowledge about topics such as carpentry techniques; electrical wiring; plumbing systems; wood framing; concrete work; painting techniques; HVAC installation; stonework; roof flashing; drywall finishing; waterproofing methods; drainage systems and much more.

Fees: Before taking either exam there are fees associated with obtaining an application from the Contractors State License Board which costs $200 plus $5 for fingerprint processing fee if required by law. Each exam will cost between $150-$200 depending on which trade(s) you’re applying for certification in. After passing both exams successfully you’ll also need to pay additional fees for registration with the CSLB which are generally around $725 -$800 based on the type of license applied for.

Bonds & Insurance Requirements: You’ll also need to obtain surety bonds totaling $12500 which will provide proof that your company has sufficient funds available should there be any claims against it due to negligence or damages caused while working on sites throughout the state. Additionally, having appropriate insurance coverage is essential since it not only protects yourself but also anyone working under your supervision – workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses incurred by employees while they’re working while liability insurance protects against any potential damages caused by negligence while at work sites.

Once all requirements have been met including passing exams successfully along with payment of all applicable fees it typically takes several weeks before actually receiving confirmation that your license has been approved by CSLB so patience is important during this time frame! Becoming a licensed general contractor can open up many opportunities professionally with potentially higher earnings depending on how well established the contracting business becomes over time - good luck!