How To Become a Contractor in California-10 Best Steps

Becoming a contractor in California may seem daunting at first. With the right approach, you can navigate this process with precision and care. Then, you can become a contractor in California and use what you know to pursue your career goals.

Expect challenges to come up as you work toward becoming a contractor in California. Fortunately, there are steps you can follow to avoid such issues. Let’s look at the 10 steps on how to become a contractor in California.  

How To Become a Contractor in California

  • Figure out What License You Want

  • Build Your Soft and Hard Skills

  • Find a California Contractor Licensing School

  • Fill Out Your Licensing Application

  • Get a Background Check

  • Pass the California Contractor Licensing Exam

  • Provide Bonding and Insurance Documents

  • Look for Contractor Work

  • Track Your Progress

  • Remain Persistent

1. Figure out What License You Want

There are three types of contractor licenses in California:

  • Class A General Engineering: ideal for those who want to perform cement and concrete work or other jobs that require specialized engineering knowledge and skills;

  • Class B General Building: intended for individuals who want to construct buildings, properties, or structures used by people or animals;

  • Class C Specialty: available to those who require electrical, plumbing, or other specialized knowledge and skills required to become a subcontractor.

Review the requirements associated with any contractor license you want to obtain. These include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.

  • You must have four years of verifiable experience at the journey level.

  • You must secure a bond of at least $15,000.

Examine all of the bond requirements for California contractors. A Bond of Qualifying Individual is required for contractors who intend to manage an employee or have less than 10% stock ownership.

Contractors are also required to have an LLC Employee/Worker Bond if their business is run as an LLC.

2. Build Your Soft and Hard Skills

There are no educational requirements to become a contractor in California. Yet, those who develop their soft and hard skills or fine-tune their existing ones are well-equipped for success as a contractor.

The best contractors can communicate and collaborate effectively. These contractors know how to plan for projects and solve problems as they arise.

They can use the technology and tools of the trade correctly. Also, they understand how to maintain a safe, productive, and efficient work environment.

You can join a vocational training program or pursue an internship that helps you build your contractor skill set.

This helps you gain hands-on experience and become more comfortable and confident in completing contractor work tasks. Most importantly, it enables you to gain the skills you need to thrive as a contractor.

3. Find a California Contractor Licensing School

Look for a California contractor licensing school that offers training that meets your expectations.

You can enroll in a community college that offers a contractor licensing program. Or, you can explore private schools that offer contractor licensing programs approved by California’s Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education.

Learn as much as you can about yourself before you decide on a California contractor licensing school.

This allows you to choose a school where you can perform your best. It boosts the likelihood that you can enjoy an outstanding school experience that sets you up for success as a contractor.

4. Fill Out Your Licensing Application

Complete your licensing application online or submit a paper application. Read the application carefully and fill out each section to the best of your ability.

If you have concerns or questions as you complete your application, reach out to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

A licensing application is not refundable, and there is a $450 associated with it. Take as much time as you need to complete the application.

That way, you can provide CSLB with all of the information it needs to determine if it should approve your submission.

5. Get a Background Check

Provide CSLB with your fingerprints so they can perform a criminal background check. CSLB will reach out to let you know how to submit your fingerprints. There are also fingerprint processing fees that total $51.

6. Pass the California Contractor Licensing Exam

The California contractor licensing exam can be completed at locations across the state. These locations offer testing six days a week.

It takes approximately 3.5 hours to complete the California contractor licensing exam. You are given your test score at the end of your exam. If you failed, you can reschedule the exam, which requires a $100 fee.

CSLB gives you up to 18 months after it accepts your contractor license application to pass the exam. If you cannot pass the exam during this period, CSLB voids your application.

7. Provide Bonding and Insurance Documents

Complete CSLB paperwork to verify you are bonded and insured. You must have a bond, worker’s compensation, and liability insurance. In addition, you’ll need to pay an initial license fee that ranges from $200 to $350.

8. Look for Contractor Work

Explore contractor job opportunities online. You can search for jobs on Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and other online job boards. On top of that, you can reach out to local companies in search of contractors.

When you apply for contractor jobs, tailor your resume accordingly. It is beneficial to customize your resume to each role you want to land. This helps you show relevant skills and experience based on the role. You can also show an employer why you’re the best candidate for a job.

Be open in your pursuit of contractor job opportunities. For example, you may find temp contractor work available in sustainable home building.

Accepting this work allows you to earn an income, enhance your skill set, and gain on-the-job experience. Meanwhile, you can continue to look for contractor jobs that line up with your career goals.    

9. Track Your Progress

Monitor your performance as a contractor. Look at your career goals periodically to verify you are doing work that helps you achieve them.

If you find you are unhappy in a contractor role, consider why this is the case. At this point, you can revamp your career goals as needed.

On the other hand, if you are happy in a contractor job, build on your success. Look for opportunities to take on more responsibility at work. This can help you accelerate your career growth.

10. Remain Persistent

Continue to learn, grow, and thrive as a contractor. You can enroll in classes and workshops to learn new contractor skills or improve your current skill set. It helps to stay up to date on industry trends and research.

This can help you stand out from other contractors in California.

Get Started on Becoming a Contractor in California

Do not wait any longer to pursue a career as a contractor in California.

Start the process of becoming a contractor, and you can gain the skills and experience you need to achieve your career aspirations.

Do you have suggestions on these steps on steps on how to become a contractor in California? Please leave a comment below.

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