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paperworkHow to apply for your California state contractor license

STEP 1 Complete Application for Original Contractors License

To become a licensed contractor you will need to pass a general background check and provide proof of experience.
The state of California provides this guide.For applicants who have gained experience working for a construction company the forms needed are the two below.



All state forms are found HERE with full text and instructions

All state guides and pamphlets can be found HERE.

There are several hundred dollars in fees. Response times can be significant so don’t quit your regular job just yet!

STEP 2 Take Contractors License Trade and Law Exams

These exams are required and will be done under the supervision of the license board and security cameras. The exams are pass fail and the passing score is a percentage which they will tell you upon arrival. The test is approximately 120 questions but can vary by a few questions as they are reorganized and altered to prevent cheating. Below is a breakdown of the test.


STEP 3 Meet the basic Bonding & Financial Requirements

A bond of 12,500 is needed. The cost will be less than $100. Many companies will send you unsolicited advertisements so just wait for these to come in the mail and choose. The state also require a minimum working capital of $2,500.00. However I recommend having at least 6 months salary in the bank before beginning on your own for two reasons. The first is you will be expected to pay cash for supplies up front. Second it may take up to 30 days to receive payment. Between waiting for your last job to pay and buying supplies for the next job you may come into a cash flow problem paying your personal bills. Cash flow problems are a huge issue for start up companies. When I opened my business account I deposited $5,000.00 but ended up adding an additional $10,000.00 before beginning to see a profit. Luckily I took my own advice and had another $10,000 in reserve. I suggest you make similar considerations.

STEP 4 Pass the asbestos Certification Book

After passing the test an additional open book asbestos test will arrive in the mail with several other forms. Included will be the workers compensation exemption form. Fill this out even though you should get workers compensation right away. Then you have 90 days to report the workers compensation to the CSLB.


Obtaining your license is the four step process. I would expect to spend about $500.00 and take two to four months time. The test is the hardest part. Always double check your paperwork before mailing. It may take months to hear back that a signature is missing.

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