Getting Your Contractors License — From Start To Finish

by | The Basics

This article will answer the questions what should you expect when getting your contractors license, what does the process look like, and we’ll take a look at every single thing you have to do in order to get your contractors license, including variables that might come your way.


Let’s go.

You’re here because you want to get your contractors license. That’s good. First thing is first. Before we waste your time and you read this entire article you need to know whether or not you qualify to get your contractors license.

In the state of California, you’re required to have minimum for years experience in the trade of your choice in the last ten years. Four years in the last ten years. In the trade in which you want to get licensed. TRADE: the area of construction in which you are working, be it general construction, plumbing, electrical, landscaping, etc. There are actually a lot of different trades in construction. You’ll want to get licensed in the one(s) you’re qualified for. Yes, to answer a question you may now be asking: you can get multiple licenses (classifications, they’re called) as long as you qualify for them. Some people have worked in multiple trades and therefore get multiple licenses.

Probably, right now though, you just want to get started with one.

So if you have four years of experience in the trade of your choice keep reading. Oh, and one more thing that’s probably important to mention:

If you have a bachelor’s degree you only have to have two years of experience in the trade of your choice.

Cool, right?

If you don’t have the necessary experience your only option would be to move to another state where they don’t require four years of experience. Every one of the fifty states in America has different requirements to receive licensure. Be sure to check what the requirements are before moving.

All right, so you’re qualified to get your license.
What next?

You must pass 2 tests with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

Test ONE (*drum roll)
The Law and Business Test

This test has been written by lawyers and covers really super fun things like taxes, liens, bonds, and contract law.

Test TWO (*trumpets sound)
The Trade Test

The trade test will cover the actual trade that you choose. If you choose General B, then your test will be on General B. If you choose H-VAC, your test will cover H-VAC questions. And so on and so forth.

There are 125 questions on each test and you take both of them in one sitting.

Now, you have two choices. (the red pill or the blue pill).
Just kidding. No pills. We’re not that kind of business.

Two Choices.

1 – You can send off your application to take these tests to the state along with the fee of $330.00. The state will get back to you in a few weeks with a test date. You can take the tests without preparing with any sort of classes or preparatory study material. You will probably fail.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll pass the trade test because, HEY, that tests is easier because you have at least four years of experience in it.

However, the law test is usually where contractors get tripped up. Need I remind you that the test covers taxes, bonds, liens, contract law and more. Not exactly topics any normal well-adjusted person knows a lot about. (not that we’re trying to offend accountants. you guys do great work).

2 – You can attend a contractor school (like us!) or, at the very least, order some study material from a contractor school (also like us–you can order straight off our website). The classes aren’t accredited or anything like that because you don’t need accreditation to get your license. The classes are more like consultation–we prepare you and guarantee that you’ll pass those two tests.

All right, so let’s say you choose to take our classes (here’s some more info on our pricing and locations and online course and all that good stuff).

What’s next?

You take the classes.
You learn the material.
You’re ready to take the tests.

When you’re ready you’ll want to send off that application to the state (and we’ll help you processing the application–it’s on us;) — and by, ‘on us,’ I mean to say that it’s included in our price.

NEXT, the state gets back to you with a test date.
They usually take a few weeks.
Sometimes they’re slow.
Like, DMV slow.
But that’s okay because it gives you time to study and at least you don’t have to sit in those awful lines next to very smelly people. (Why do we all forget deodorant on days we must go to the DMV?)

Before you send off that application there is actually one thing we recommend that you do. If you don’t know how to do it, that’s okay, because you’ll learn in our classes. But we recommend you get a DBA–which is a doing-business-as name. In other words, a business name. In order to get a business name, you can’t just make one up. You have to make one up and then register it with the county. Again, we’ll teach you how to do this if you don’t already know how. You don’t technically have to get a business name before sending off the application, but it certainly makes everything go easier and it’s not that expensive. We’ll talk prices at the end of this article. Just keep reading for now.

Okay, you take the tests and you pass because you went to school with us. Cool. Now what?

Now you wait for the state to get back to you with a packet. In the packet they send back to you, you’ll have to provide proof of insurance because you have to get a “Surety Bond” in order to hold your license. The policy will have to be in the amount of 15,000, which is about $100 a year, typically (of course this depends on what insurance company you go to and your credit rating and all that good stuff). It’s not too expensive, either way.

You’ll also have to take an open-book asbestos test (we provide you with the book).

And finally you’ll have to get a live-scan (background checked). You can have this done at a notary for around $70. Not a big deal.

In that packet, you will enclose your open-book asbestos test, your live-scan information, and your proof of insurance. Oh, and $200 to the state to activate your license. You will send that packet back to the state.


They’ll get back to you with your license within three to four weeks.

Then you will be a license contractor.

Let’s go over that one more time from the top.

CONTRACTOR SCHOOL — $699/$499 ($699 for the in-person classes. $499 for the online course. our prices are some of the lowest around. EVER.)
BUSINESS NAME — around $45
STATE FEE — $330
SURETY BOND — $100 (in theory)
LIVE SCAN — at or near $70

All right, let’s say worst comes to worst: your test date and arrives and you fail hard. You fail both tests or one of the tests, then what happens.

Good news.
It’s really not that bad.

If you fail, you have 18 months and unlimited retries for $95 bucks a try.
Not too bad.

So even if you fail, don’t sweat it.
(and always wear deodorant. just sayin’)

However, we do guarantee that if you pass our online practice tests that we give you if you enroll with us that you’ll pass the state tests.

Well, hopefully this very informative article informed you. If you still have questions feel free to give us a call. We may not be as charming as this article but we’ll certainly try our best. At our school, we love smiling and having a fun time. Who says the law has to be boring? (literally everyone).

Hope to see you soon!
Best of luck getting that contractors license!

AJ Diaz

AJ Diaz

We've been serving California for years. We've literally graduated hundreds of contractors.


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Contractor School Locations

Temecula School
41593 Winchester Road. Suite 200C
Temecula, CA 92590
Phone: (951) 387-6300

Lake Elsinore School
18301 Collier Ave. Unit B1
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
Phone: (951) 399-2500

Orange School
2230 West Chapman Avenue
Orange, CA 92868
Phone: (714) 922-8665

Wildomar School
34862 Monte Vista Dr. Suite 107
Wildomar, CA 92595
Phone: (951) 678-6971

Irvine School
2102 Business Center Dr. 130C
Irvine, CA 92612
Phone: (949) 333-2749

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