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Step 3: Qualifying Experience for the Examination

This step explains what experience qualifies for the contractor’s examination.

Experience Requirements

You must have at least four (4) years of experience, in the class you are applying for, to qualify to take the examination. Credit for experience is given only for experience at a journey level or as a foreman, supervising employee, contractor, or owner-builder. These are defined as follows:

  • A journeyman is a person who is a fully qualified, experienced worker (as opposed to a trainee, helper, laborer, assistant, apprentice, etc.) and is able to perform the trade without supervision, or a person who has completed an apprenticeship program.
  • A foreman or supervising employee is a person who has the knowledge and skills of a journeyman and directly supervises physical construction.
  • A contractor is a person who is currently a licensed California contractor, a former licensed California contractor, personnel of record on a California license, or an out-of-state licensed contractor. A contractor has the skills necessary to manage the daily activities of a construction business, including field supervision.
  • An owner-builder is a person who has the knowledge and skills of a journeyman and who performs work on his or her own property. Owner-builders must complete and submit a Construction Project Experience form for each project.

REMEMBER all experience claims must be verified by a qualified and responsible person, such as an employer, contractor, foreman/supervisor, fellow employee, other journeyman, union representative, building inspector, architect, engineer, or homeowner.

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--and must complete the experience certification portion of the application. Even if you provide a certification of your experience, be prepared to furnish documentation of any experience you claim on the application whenever such documentation is requested. The failure to provide this documentation will result in the return or voiding of your application or denial of the license. A listing of Acceptable Supporting Experience Documentation will help you understand what types of documentation may be appropriate.

Educational Requirements

You do not have to meet any education requirements in order to qualify for a contractor license.

Credit for Education, Technical Training, and Vocational Training

You may receive credit of up to three (3) years for technical training, apprenticeship training, or education toward the four (4) years of required experience in the classification for which you are seeking licensure.

At least one year must be practical experience. You must provide written documentation of any training or education claimed in place of experience. To have your education reviewed for credit, request that your educational institution submit your official sealed transcripts to CSLB for evaluation. If you received your degree outside of the United States, your transcripts must be translated and evaluated by an accredited evaluation service that does business within the United States.

CSLB may grant credit for training, apprenticeship, or education as follows:

  • A maximum of 1-1/2 years upon submission of official transcripts of the following:
    • An A.A. degree from an accredited school or college in building or construction management.
  • A maximum of two (2) years upon submission of official transcripts of any of the following:
    • A four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the fields of accounting, architecture (B-General Building classification only), business, economics, mathematics, physics, or areas related to the specific trade or craft for which application is being made;
    • A professional degree in law; or
    • Substantial accredited college or university course work in accounting, architecture, business, construction technology, drafting, economics, engineering, mathematics, or physics.
  • A maximum of three (3) years upon submission of any of the following:
    • A Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship from an accredited apprenticeship program or a certified statement of completion of apprenticeship training from a union in the classification for which application is being made. Division of Apprenticeship Standards is an important link;
    • Submission of official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in construction technology/management, or any field of engineering that is directly related to the classification for which application is being made; or
    • Submission of official transcripts for a four-year degree from an accredited college or university in the field of horticulture, landscape horticulture, or landscape architecture for the Landscaping (C-27) classification, or in the field of interior design for the Painting and Decorating (C-33) classification.

Many community colleges and private schools offer instruction in vocational education. You can contact your local community college for information about classes. Private vocational schools should be investigated carefully before paying tuition.

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