In California, small businesses are the heartbeat of the state’s economy.  In fact, construction companies and other privately owned small businesses provide the most job opportunities for California residents.  However, the state is also plagued with a $60-140 billion dollar “underground economy” made up of unlicensed contractors who do not pay taxes, insurance, or comply with safety laws.  In an effort to help businesses fight back against the problem of unlicensed contractors, California has developed some of the strongest labor and workforce safety laws in the U.S.For example, California state law mandates that individuals or companies performing construction work totaling $500 or more must:

  • Hold a valid license from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB)
  • Have at least 4 years of experience working as a journeyman, contractor, foreman or supervisor in the trade of licensing
  • Be fingerprinted
  • Have an FBI background check
  • Be bonded

Those who are caught operating without a CSLB license will be fined and possibly spend time in jail.

Steps to Becoming a California Licensed Flooring Contractor

Now that you understand the importance of obtaining a CSLB license, let’s discuss the process of becoming a licensed flooring contractor in California.  First of all, it’s important to understand that anyone who provides flooring and floor covering services (totaling $500 dollars or more in labor and materials) is required to get their C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering Contractor state license.  This flooring license allows contractors to install a variety of flooring products like carpet, wood, laminate, rubber, and more.

So, how does one go about obtaining this license?

  1. Get a job that will provide you with the required 4 years of work experience in the trade for which you plan to be licensed.  As previously mentioned, working as a journeyman, contractor, foreman or supervisor in the desired field provides valuable on-the-job training and will also enable you to meet the experience requirements.
  2. Once you’ve met the experience requirements, you will have to take two exams:  the California Law and Business Exam and the Flooring & Floor Covering C-15 Exam.  Passage of both exams is required and proves that you have the knowledge, skills, and competency to work as an independent flooring contractor.  Check out the following resources to study for these exams:  Study Guide for the California Contractors Law and Business ExamStudy Guide for the California Flooring Contractor Exam
  3. To take the exams mentioned above, you will first have to apply for a California flooring license using the Application for Original Contractor’s License and pay an application processing fee of $250. An additional fee of $150 will be required upon successful completion of the two exams.  The state will notify you when your appliaction has been approved/denied.
  4. Upon receiving notification that your application is approved, you must submit fingerprints for a background check.
  5. As a security measure to protect California consumers from scams, contractors are also resonsible for meeting several financial requirements:  $2500 in working capital for flooring projects, contractor surety bonds of $7500 and $12,500, along with workers comp insurance for contractors who also employ other individuals.

While the process of becoming CSLB licensed is not short, it is definitely worth your time and money.  If you’re a contractor who is considering becoming a California licensed flooring contractor, take a minute and carefully read through the Blueprint For Becoming a California Licensed Contractor.  This document provides full details of California’s license requirements and exceptions and will help to answer any further questions you may have.

Sources & Helpful Links:

Blueprint for Becoming a California Licensed Contractor

California Flooring License Requirements – How to Become a California Flooring Contractor

Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board
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