Spring/Summer 2019       |      David Fogt, Registrar      |      Gavin Newsom, Governor


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Crunching the Numbers: A Closer Look at Licensed Contractors

After a slow, but steady decline over the past ten years, the total number of state-licensed contractors rose slightly in 2018. Also, the number of license applications rose during the year.

At the end of 2018, there were 285,184 contractor licenses in California, an increase of just over one percent from the start of the year.

About 80.5 percent of those (229,656) were "active," and about 19.5 percent (55,528) were "inactive" (those who are not currently contracting or submiting bids for work).

photo of graph showing number of licenses

More than 55 percent of those holding an active license are "B" General contractors, with 135,055 in that classification. The C-10 Electrical contractor classification is the next most widely held with 32,211 licensees, followed by "A" General Engineering licensees, with 19,403 at the beginning of 2019.

The number of applications CSLB has received in 2019 continues to rise. CSLB's Licensing unit is processing 40-60 applications per day.

"B" - General Building 135,055
C-10 Electrical 32,211
"A" - General Engineering 19,403
C-36 Plumbing 19,033
C-33 Painting and Decorating 18,406
C-20 Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning 14,473
C-27 Landscaping 13,906
C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering 8,267
C-8 Concrete 7,598
C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic) 7,371

Another positive sign for the industry's recovery was that CSLB received over 31,000 license applications in 2018, an 11 percent increase from the prior year. Original license applications increased by nearly 14 percent; applications to add a classification to an existing license increased by 8.75 percent.

Even though the number of license applications increased in 2018, the time it took CSLB staff to process applications dropped 50 percent. That's due in great part to a number of processing improvements, including cross-training of staff.

To help reduce barriers to licensure, in 2018, CSLB added Louisiana to the states with which it has reciprocity agreements, a list that also includes Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

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