Understanding the Different Classifications of California Contractor License

If you want to become a contractor in California, it’s essential to understand the different classifications of contractor licenses. Each license type has its requirements and restrictions, so knowing what you need before applying is necessary. This article will discuss California’s different types of contractor licenses and how to get them.

CSLB Licensing Classifications

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is responsible for licensing and regulating contractors in California. They offer several types of contractor licenses, each with qualifications and requirements. The most common types are A, B, C-12, C-36, C-57, and C-61/D-40.

  1. An “A” license is required for any general engineering or general building work that exceeds $500 in labor and materials costs. This includes excavation, grading work, and structural alterations or additions to existing buildings.
  2. A “B” license is required for any general building job that does not exceed $500 in labor and materials costs. This includes carpentry work, such as framing walls or installing cabinets, and plumbing or electrical work on existing structures.
  3. C-12 licenses are required for any excavation or grading job costing at most $500 in labor and materials. This includes digging trenches or moving dirt around a construction site.
  4. C-36 licenses are required for any plumbing job costing at most $500 in labor and materials. This includes installing pipes or fixtures such as sinks or toilets and repairing existing plumbing systems.
  5. C-57 licenses are required on any excellent drilling job costing at most $500 in labor and materials. This includes drilling wells for water supply and testing water quality from existing wells.
  6. C-61/D-40 licenses are required for any hazardous substance removal job that costs, at most, $500 in labor and materials. This includes removing asbestos from buildings or other structures and cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

Step 1: Before Applying For The Examination

Before applying for a California contractor license, there are specific steps you must take first to ensure you meet all the necessary qualifications and requirements needed to obtain one.

First, you must be at least 18 years old with sufficient experience and skills to manage daily operations related to your contracting field.

You must also complete an application form on the Contractors State License Board website and other conditions, such as a financial statement form if applicable, depending on your chosen classification type of license being applied for.

Additionally, you must submit fingerprints along with your application form, which the board will use during their background check process. Once all these steps have been completed, you can proceed to step two, which involves an examination.

Step 2: Taking The Examination

Once all the necessary paperwork has been submitted, applicants can take an examination. Depending on your chosen classification type, multiple investigations may involve such as law & business, trade, safety & health, etc.

All examinations must be passed before being issued a contractor’s license. Inquiries can be taken at various locations throughout California, but applicants should contact their local office beforehand to ensure they have space available.

After passing all examinations, applicants will receive their official contractor’s license, which they can use immediately upon receipt.

Maintaining Your License

Once you have obtained your California contractor license, you must maintain it by renewing it every two years and making any necessary changes or updates when needed. Additionally, if you plan on hiring Home Improvement Salespersons (HISs), you must register them with the CSLB so they can legally perform their duties under your supervision. It is also essential to keep up with any new laws or regulations related to your profession to remain compliant with state regulations.


Obtaining a contractor license in California can be complex, but understanding the different classifications available can help make it easier. Knowing what type of license you need based on the work you plan on doing will save time and money in the long run while helping ensure that all contractors are appropriately qualified and can provide quality services for their customers.

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