This series walks you through the entire California Contractor License Application process.

Part 1 of 2: Filling out and submitting your application to the CSLB

Do you have four or more years of experience in your trade and wish to become master of your destiny? If you have what it takes to run your own business, If so getting your California Contractors License can be the start of a hugely rewarding and future-proof profession.

Anyone who contracts to perform work on a project valued at $500 or more for in combined labor and materials costs must hold a current, valid contractors license from the CSLB. “State Contractors License Board.”

“It is possible to own a construction company without having a California contractor license by hiring an (RME) responsible managing employee, however that will be the topic of a future post.”

Now that you have decided you get your California contractor license, here are your first steps.

The Importance of Correctly Filling Out and Submitting Your Application

To become a licensed contractor, you must apply for your license and pass the contractors exam. Your first step is to fill out and submit your application to the CSLB. This whole process takes about 12 weeks from the time you submit your application.

Your application is a legal document. You must fill it out precisely in the manner specified by the CSLB. Any errors or omissions will result in the rejection of your application and cost you months of lost time. Therefore, It is imperative that you READ and UNDERSTAND THE DIRECTIONS.

The CSLB has recently launched a new Easy-Fill form wizard to assist you with filling out the application. This tool makes completing the application more precise and cuts down on commonly repeated mistakes. However, the Easy-Fill Wizard does not allow you to save your progress. Make sure you have a solid hour set aside before you begin. You must fill out your application entirely in one sitting. If you do not finish, you will have to start again from the beginning.

The Application

Your original California contractor license application contains two sections. The first section is the Application for Original Contractor License. The second section is the Certificate of Work Experience. Submit Both forms together to the CSLB.

The Application for Original Contractor License is the application for your first or new California contractors license. This form provides the CSLB with your business name and address, your business entity, name and contact information for the qualifier, “holder of the License.” Additionally, the CSLB collects personal background information including convictions and any relevant educational accomplishments. Submitting this application results in a newly issued contractor license.

The Application of Work Experience form is used to report and confirm the journeyman-level work experience requirement of your application. The person who will hold the license “Qualifier” and the person verifying their expertise must both fill out and sign it. A “qualified and responsible” person must confirm all experience. Also, this person can be an employer, contractor, foreman, supervisor, a fellow employee, other journeymen, union representative, building inspector, architect, engineer, or homeowner.

You can easily download the application and the Easy-Fill from or the CSLB website. Once you have completed your application, mail it to the CSLB along with a check or money order for $330 “do not send cash’. If you have purchased one of our Contractor License Study kits, we assist you with correctly filling out your application.

What Happens to Your Application at the CSLB

When the CSLB receives your application, it is reviewed by the exams unit, which processes your paperwork and assigns your pin number. Additionally, you can use the pin number to track your progress on the CSLB website.

Next, your application goes to the testing unit and the criminal backgrounds unit. The testing unit assigns your exam date and provides an application fee number (application number). After your application is accepted as complete (posted,) the criminal backgrounds unit sends instructions for obtaining and submitting fingerprints.

After successfully passing your contractors exam, the CSLB’s issuance unit sends a request for final paperwork and License registration fee. You must provide proof of workers compensation insurance or a completed workers comp exemption form. You must also send proof of $15,000 bond, as well as the Asbestos open book exam verification form. An additional payment of $200 is required to register your license.

Fingerprinting, Disclosure, and Background Review

Fingerprinting: California law requires all license applicants to submit a full set of fingerprints for a background check. Results are compared to the records of the California DOJ & the FBI to determine if the applicant has a criminal history. Past transgressions, however, will not prevent the applicant from getting their license.

Disclosure: You must disclose all convictions of any kind when filling out your application. Also, disclose any misdemeanor or felony conviction, DUI or anything else to the CSLB.

Background Review: If you have a criminal conviction the CSLB will conduct a background review to determine the time frame nature and severity of the sentence. However, having a criminal conviction on your record does not mean the CSLB will automatically reject your application. The CSLB reviews all convictions on a case by case basis.

We will cover Fingerprinting, Disclosure and Background Review in greater detail: that however is the topic of a future post.

Part 2: How to choose a school and pass your exam