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State License Exams
Contractors License and Performance Bonds
Licensing Examinations

25. Is there an examination requirement for a contractor's license?

The qualifying individual for a contractor's license is required to pass the written Law and Business and trade examinations unless he or she meets the requirements for a waiver.

26. Under what circumstances is a waiver of an examination granted?

The Registrar may waive the examination requirement if the qualifying individual meets one of the following conditions:

red button The person is currently the qualifying individual for a license in good standing in the same classification for which he or she is applying; or
red button The person has been a qualifying individual within the past five years for a license in good standing in the same classification for which he or she is applying; or
red button Within the last five years, the person has passed both the Law and Business examination and the trade examination in the same classification for which he or she is applying.

27. Are there any additional circumstances under which a waiver of an examination may be requested?

Yes, at the Registrar's discretion, if the qualifying individual meets the following criteria:

red button The qualifying individual is a member of the immediate family of a licensee whose individual license was active and in good standing for five of the seven years immediately preceding the application. The qualifying individual must have been actively engaged in the licensee's business for five of the previous seven years, must be applying in the same classification, and the license must be required in order to continue the operations of an existing family business in the event of the absence or death of the licensee.

Special Accommodation Request For Examination

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Public Law 101-336, the CSLB provides "reasonable accommodations" for applicants with disabilities that may affect their ability to take required examinations. It is the applicant's responsibility to notify the CSLB of alternative arrangements needed. The CSLB is not required by the ADA to provide special accommodations if they are unaware of specific needs. To request special accommodations, submit Form 13E-77, Special Accommodation Request For Examination. Forms are part of the application packet and are also available in any CSLB office.

28. If I think I am eligible for a waiver, must I complete the experience section of the application?

Even if you think that you are eligible for an examination waiver, you must complete the experience section of the application to document a minimum of five years of journey-level experience.

All experience claims must be verified by a qualified and responsible person, such as an employer, fellow employee, other journeyman, contractor, union representative, building inspector, architect, or engineer. The person verifying your claim must have firsthand knowledge of your experience; that is, he or she must have observed the work that you have done.

Exceptions--you are not required to document your experience if any of the following conditions exist:

red button You are currently a qualifier on a license in good standing in the same classification(s) for which you are applying;
red button You have been a qualifier within the past five years on a license in good standing in the same classification(s) for which you are applying; or
red button Within the last five years, you have passed both the Law and Business Examination and the trade examination in the same classification for which you are applying, and the license for which you took the examinations was not denied due to lack of work experience.

29. How will I find out if I have to take the examination?

If you have to take the examination, you will be sent a Notice to Appear for Examination.

If you qualify for a waiver, you will be sent a notice requesting the required documents and fees be submitted.

30. How soon after filing my application will I receive my Notice to Appear for Examination?

Scheduling of the exam occurs after your application is processed and found acceptable (see Question 17). There are many factors that affect the time it may take to process an application.

You will be scheduled for the exam after your application is accepted. You should receive your examination notice at least three weeks prior to the examination date. PLEASE NOTE: Some applications are sent for formal investigation. Each application must be accepted AND approved in order for the license to be issued, even if the qualifier has passed the exam. Please refer to your acknowledgment letter for instructions on how to check the status of your application.

31. Where are the examinations given?

To make the examination procedure more convenient for applicants, testing centers are located throughout the state. The examination sites are located in San Diego, San Bernardino, Norwalk, Oxnard, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, and Fresno. CSLB testing staff use zip codes to assign applicants to the testing center nearest their business address.

The Notice to Appear for Examination mailed to you will state where you will take your examination; the date and time of the exam; what identification is required; and directions on how to get to the examination site.

32. What are the major components of the examination?

There are two parts to the examination process: ALL qualifying individuals must pass the standard Law and Business examination; in addition, with the exception of the C-61 Limited Specialty Classification, qualifying individuals must pass a second test covering the specific trade or certification area for which they are applying.

33. What does the Law and Business examination cover?

The Law and Business examination consists of multiple choice questions related to business management and construction law. Applicants can find information on the breakdown of the topics covered in the examination in the Study Guide for the Law and Business Examination that is sent to applicants along with the Notice to Appear for Examination.

34. How can I prepare for the Law and Business examination?

The California Contractors License Law & Reference Book is the basic study reference. The book with CD-ROM is available from LexisNexis/Matthew Bender. The cost for the 2005 edition is $14.50 plus tax and shipping. Call (800) 562-1197, and ask for "CALIFORNIA Contractors License Law and Reference Book." You may also order online at The information may also be downloaded for free from the CSLB Web site

Please note that the California License Law and Reference Book is not sold at any CSLB office.

Other suggested study materials are listed in the resource list included in the Study Guide for the Law and Business Examination. These additional resource materials include employer's guides from state and federal tax agencies, and materials focusing on business management and construction law. The study guide is available on the CSLB Web site,, or by calling the 24-hour automated public information line, (800) 321-CSLB (2752).

35. How can I prepare for my trade or certification examination?

A study guide for each examination will be sent to you with your Notice to Appear For Examination. The study guide (also available on the CSLB Web site and automated phone system) lists the topic areas covered by the examination, shows how each area is weighted, and recommends resource materials to study.

36. What are the trade examinations like?

All trade examinations consist of multiple-choice questions. You will be informed at the test site about the percentage of correct answers needed to pass each examination. The examinations are developed with the assistance of licensed contractors. Most examinations include questions that refer to accompanying blueprints and/or booklets containing drawings.

37. What should I bring to the examination site?

In order to be admitted to the test center, bring your Notice to Appear for Examination. You must also bring picture identification (a current valid driver's license, Department of Motor Vehicles identification card, or military identification card).

Pencils, scratch paper, calculators and scale rulers will be provided at the test center. No personal calculators, cell phones, pagers or other electronic devices are permitted in the testing area. All personal items must be placed in a common storage area at your own risk. You are advised to leave articles of value locked in your vehicle since the test center staff does not watch the storage area.

38. How long does the examination take?

You will be given 2 -1/2 hours to complete each examination. Failure to arrive at the test site on time may result in your seat being given to another candidate.

39. What is involved with the computer-assisted testing (CAT) system?

You will be taking your examination on the easy-to-use computer-assisted testing (CAT) system. No prior experience with computers is necessary--the test monitor guides all test-takers through a short exercise to help them feel at ease with the computer.

40. What kind of feedback will I receive?

Test-takers receive their score results before they leave the test site. Successful test-takers are told only that they have passed the examination-they are not given detailed information about the score.

Unsuccessful test-takers are given a statement showing how well they performed in each section of the test. These sections are described in greater detail in the Study Guide for that examination so the test-taker will know what areas to emphasize in preparing to retake the examination.

41. If I fail to appear for an examination or fail to pass the Law and Business and/or a trade examination, may I retake the examination(s)?

Yes. If you fail to appear for an examination, you must pay a $50 rescheduling fee. If you fail to appear a second time, your application will be considered void, and you will have to submit a new application with new fees. Your examination may be rescheduled one time without a fee if you provide documented evidence that the failure to appear was due to a medical emergency or other circumstance beyond your control.

If you fail the Law and Business examination and/or your trade examination, you must also pay a $50 fee each time you are rescheduled. You are given 18 months to pass the examinations. If you do not pass within 18 months after your application is accepted by the Board, your application is considered void, and you will have to submit a new application. The void date on an application may be extended up to 90 days if you provide documented evidence that the failure to complete the application process was due to a medical emergency or other circumstance beyond your control.

To file for rescheduling, complete the application on the bottom of the notice informing you that you failed to pass the examination and submit it with the $50 fee to the CSLB. (Please note any address change on this form.) You will be sent a notice informing you where and when to appear for your next examination.

Examination results are good for five years. If you pass either the trade or the Law and Business examination but fail the other, you need only take the examination you failed as long as you retake the examination within five years.

42. May I review the test questions after the examinations?

No. Test questions and answer keys are not available for review. You may file a written protest or critique of any examination question(s) after you have completed your examination and before you turn in your examination materials to the proctor.

43. Are there any penalties for disclosing the contents of a state examination?

Yes. Conduct which violates the security of the examination includes providing information about test questions to any school, person, or business other than CSLB examination staff; removing examination materials from the examination site (includes copying examination questions by any means for future use); communicating with other examinees during an examination; copying or permitting your answers to be copied; having in your possession any written material other than test materials provided by the CSLB; or taking the examination on behalf of another applicant.

Penalties for conduct that violates the security of the examination include prosecution on misdemeanor charges resulting in a fine of $500, payment of damages of up to $10,000 plus the costs of litigation, and a sentence in the county jail. You would also be subject to automatic test failure; any fee(s) paid to the State of California would not be refunded; and you would not be allowed to apply for any license classification for a period of one year from your examination date.

44. What will I receive to show that I'm licensed?

You will receive a wall certificate showing the name of the person or company to which the certificate has been issued, the license number, the classifications held, and the date of issue; and a permanent plastic pocket card showing the license number, business name, classification(s), and the license expiration date. The law requires that you display your wall certificate in your main office or chief place of business. You should also make it a habit to carry your pocket card, especially in situations where you think you might be soliciting business or talking to potential customers. CSLB’s publication, “What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor,” recommends that customers ask to see the contractor’s pocket license.

45. How long before I receive those documents?

You should receive your wall certificate and pocket card within approximately one week of the time your license is issued.

What if I need a translator?

If you have difficulty understanding or reading the English language, the CSLB may allow you to use a translator to read the examination for you. The translator you choose must be approved in advance by the CSLB. If you would like to use a translator during your examination, please notify the CSLB in writing. Include your Application Fee Number in all correspondence.


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