Getting Your California Contractor’s License

California Grunge Flag

Do you know how to get your California contractor’s license?
Nicolas Raymond / Flickr / CC BY

Did you know that there are more than 300,000 licensed contractors in California? Would you like to be one of them? If yes, we can help you figure out what you need to get easily licensed in the Golden State.

If you want to conduct contract business for more than $500, you need to get licensed by the California Contractors State License Board. The Board protects consumers and regulates contractors’ activities in the state. It processes all licensing applications, license renewals, additional classifications, and changes of license records.

You can get a California contractor’s license in more than 40 contractor classifications. The top 10 include general building, electrical works, general engineering, plumbing, painting and decoration, air heating, ventilation and air conditioning, landscaping, flooring, concrete works and tile (ceramic and mosaic) works.


Preparations for concrete placement at the Folsom auxiliary spillway

You can obtain a California contractor’s license in more than 40 classification areas
USAcehq / Flickr / CC BY


Additionally, the contractor classifications are split into three main categories: general engineering contractor, general building contractor and specialty contractor, which has multiple specialty fields.


Getting Licensed

In order to obtain your contractor license in California, you will have to fulfill the particular requirements set by the Contractor State License Board for your classification. This will entail submitting a completed application form along with a $300 non-refundable application fee.

The skill prerequisite can be fulfilled with either specialized education or four years of working experience in the field. You might need to pass an exam in your specific skill area, but you should check if you can get a waiver for this based on your professional experience. If you do need to pass a specialty exam, you can start contractor state license courses in advance to help you refresh your knowledge.

Make sure to include details about your work experience in the application, because this can also clarify your exam eligibility. Also, be aware that there’s one final requirement –  to submit a full set of fingerprints for a mandatory criminal background check.


Getting Your Contractor’s License Bond

One of the contractor licensing requirements in California is to obtain a surety bond. The bond amount is $12,500 and the contractor needs to pay a percentage of it as a bond price.

Don’t forget – there’s a difference between a contractor bond and a contractor’s license bond! The first category includes bonds such as performance bonds, payment bonds and bid bonds. They are required for work on specific projects. Contractor’s license bonds, on the other hand, are general bonds required for licensing as a general contractor or specialty contractor.

Construction of the UC Davis California Native Plant GATEway Garden

Contractors need to get bonded in order to get their California contractor’s license GoodLifeGarden / Flickr / CC BY-SA


The bond is a guarantee that you, as the contractor, will abide by the State’s rules and regulations in your work. It acts as a safety net for customers. The contractor’s license bond should be issued by a surety bond company authorized by the California Department of Insurance. If you want to learn more, take a look at the California contractor’s license bond page.

If you’re looking for ways to save on your contractor’s license bond, keep in mind you have to choose your surety bond agency carefully. While some agencies require excellent history in many financial and business criteria, here at JW Surety Bonds we will only check your personal credit score. That’s our simple basis for approving bonds and determining bond price.

Obtaining your California contractor’s license bond is a conveniently straightforward process. You can apply through our website and get a quick online quote and approval.


Ready to Get Licensed?

Once you’ve gathered all the licensing information for your contracting specialty field, you just need to follow through the easy steps of getting bonded and licensed. Don’t forget, it’s much easier to go through bureaucratic processes when you know all of the requirements and have your documents fully prepared. So start today by looking up the forms you need using the links above!

We hope you enjoy your contract work in the Golden State!

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