Understanding the different types of contractor licenses in construction.

Posted on June 6, 2013 in Law & Business
Understanding the different types of contractor licenses in construction.
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"I think I'm ready to get a contractor license to do construction work."

So you're ready to pursue a contractor license so that you can start your own business, but did you know that there are more than just one contractor license in California?

With about 300,000 active licenses in California as of 2013, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) breaks the contractor license into 3 general classes (A, B, and C) and then from these classes, the CSLB then breaks Class C even further into 41 separate classifications for various specialty trades.

As you can probably tell, deciding that you want to get a contractor license is just the first step. You'll have to dig deeper and decide which class suits your trade and take into consideration what types of jobs you'll be getting in the near future so that you can apply for the proper license.

The following will explain what classes are available and what line of work is associated with each class so that hopefully you can make a more informed decision in choosing the right license for yourself.


The CSLB issues contractors a license to contract in a particular trade or field of the construction profession. Each separate trade is recognized as a "classification." You may add as many classifications to your license as you can qualify for. The CSLB issues licenses for the following classification:


The principal business is in connection with fixed works requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skill. A General Engineering Contractor may also advertise as a General Building contractor.


The principal business invoices carpentry, structural framing, or at least three unrelated building trades or crafts performed or supervised on the same structure. A contractor who performs only one trade on a job (with the exception of carpentry or framing) must have the specialty classification for that trade.


Aside from the 2 repealed trades, there are 41 separate "C" license classifications for contractors whose construction work requires special skill and whose principal contracting business involves the use of specialized building trades or crafts. Manufacturers are considered to be contractors if engaged in on-site construction, alteration, or repair.

To learn more about the various specialty trades, see here: CSLB Classifications.

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