Jet Journal

A Guide to California Contractor License Classifications

Estimated Read Time: 9 minutes


In California, there are multiple state agencies dictating construction laws, however, there is only one agency in charge of enforcement, including proper licensing of businesses and adherence to classification requirements. That entity is known as the Contractors State License Board (CSLB), a division of the Consumer Protection Agency. 

The CSLB also promotes policies intended to help maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the public with regard to contractors. As a result, the CSLB requires all contractors to carry a $25,000 Contractor Bond to be properly licensed. As part of the application process, contractors must specify what classification they are applying for. 

The CSLB has identified four primary license classification tiers. They are:

California Contractor License Classification

Class A Licenses

The A License Classification is for general engineering contractors whose primary business is connected to fixed works that require specialized engineering knowledge and skill. The fixed works in mention include the following:

  • Dams and hydroelectric projects 
  • Levees, river control, and reclamation works 
  • Streets and roads 
  • Parks, playgrounds, and other recreational works 
  • Excavating, grading, trenching, paving, and surfacing work 

The A License Classification is different from the other tiers because contractors with this designation are only allowed to work on projects that fit within the scope of their license. They cannot do any supplemental work on the project if it falls outside of the license specifications.

Class B Licenses

The B License Classification (General Building Contractor) is for contractors whose business is in connection with any structures that are built, being built, or planned to be built for the shelter of any people, animals, or movable objects. The construction must utilize at least two non-related construction trades. This does not include anyone that only provides supplies or materials and does not utilize them during the performance of the work. according to Section 7045 of the Business and Professions Code

Introduced in 2021, the B-2 Classification offers a pathway to licensure for those individuals that may not qualify for the more complicated work of a B license. B-2 licensing allows the contractor to work on remodeling and small home improvement projects that don’t involve framing or carpentry. Like the B classification, projects performed with a B-2 class also require the use of at least three unrelated building trades or crafts for a single contract. This contractor may take a prime contract for trades or crafts which may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Drywall
  • Finish Carpentry
  • Flooring
  • Insulation
  • Painting
  • Plastering
  • Roof Repair
  • Siding
  • Tiling
  • Installing, repairing, or replacing electrical fixtures including fans, lights, outlets, and switches
  • Installing, repairing, or replacing plumbing fixtures including faucets, sinks, and toilets 
  • Installing, repairing, or replacing mechanical fixtures. This includes air filters, air delivery, and return grills

Class C Licenses

The C Classification (Speciality Contractor) is the most robust classification the CSLB offers and encompasses forty different specialty trades, including: 

Electrical Contractor

Roofing Contractor
  • C-39 - Roofing Contractor
    • Contractors with this designation can install products and repair surfaces that seal, waterproof and weatherproof structures. This work is performed to prevent water or other liquids or solids from bypassing the covering and accessing the structure behind it. Additionally, per Senate Bill 216 (Chapter 978, Statutes of 2022), all C-39 roofing contractors must carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of whether they have employees. 
Swimming Pool Contractor
  • C-53 - Swimming Pool Contractor
    • Contractors with this classification can construct swimming pools, spas or hot tubs, They can also install solar heating equipment using appropriate trades or skills necessary for such construction. However, they are excluded from replacing, repairing, or installing any pool motors or pumps. In order to be qualified to do this, the contractor will also need to carry a C-61/D-35 license. 

Class D Licenses

Due to the broad range of applications, the C-61 classification has been further broken down by the CSLB into “D” subcategories. The addition of the “D” subcategories was created by the CSLB for administrative purposes but also serves to specify what type of work the specialty contractor can conduct. Below is a list of the current subcategories.

Tree Trimming and Landscape Contractor
  • D-49 - Tree Service
    • Contractors with this classification can prune and remove trees, limbs or stumps and engage in tree or limb staking. This however does not mean they can construct or maintain landscape systems and facilities. For this ability, the contractor would need to carry a Landscape Contractor (C-27) license as well. Additionally, the CSLB has proposed implementing a new classification, C-49. This class would make sure contractors are properly prepared or equipped to deal with the dangers associated with palm trees specifically. This classification is effective as of January 1, 2024. 

Occasionally, these D sub-classifications will be deemed obsolete, or they will be redefined, converted, or absorbed to fit into existing and more fitting license classifications based on the scope of work.

The CSLB will review and determine which classifications can be consolidated. Once the board has come to an agreement, the decision is sent to the CA Office of Administrative Law for final review before being approved and amended into the California Code of Regulations. These specialized classifications will then be added to other licenses to allow those existing contractors a larger breadth of work. 

Below listed are some examples of classifications that consolidated the D subcategory to another classification.

Consolidated CSLB License Classifications

NumberNameIs Now Under
D-1Architectural PorcelainD-64
D-2Asbestos FabricationC-2
D-5Communication EquipmentC-7
D-8Doors and Door ServicesD-28
D-13Fire Extinguisher SystemsC-16
D-14Floor CoveringC-15
D-15FurnacesA or C-20
D-17Industrial InsulationC-2
D-19Land ClearingC-12 or A if license is required
D-20Lead Burning and FabricationD-64
D-23Medical Gas SystemsC-36
D-25Mirrors and Fixed GlassC-17
D-26Mobile Home Installation and RepairsC-47
D-27Movable PartitionsD-34
D-32Power Nailing and FasteningD-64
D-33Precast Concrete StairsC-29
D-36Rigging and Rig BuildingA
D-37Safes and VaultsD-16
D-43Soil GroutingC-32, C-12 or A
D-45Staff and StoneC-29
D-47Tennis Court SurfacingC-12 or A
D-48Theater and School EquipmentD-34
D-54RockscapingC-15 or C-27
D-55BlastingC-12 or A
D-57Propane Gas PlantsA
D-58Residential Floating DocksA
D-61Gold Leaf GildingD-64

At Jet Insurance, we are dedicated to helping California contractors get bonded quickly and easily. Call us at (916) 836-5330 or email us at [email protected] and our team of Underwriters will assist with any questions you have.

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