contractor licensing classifications

Licensing Classifications

In our previous licensed versus unlicensed comparison discussion, we briefly touched on California state law that states in part, “anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for labor and materials must hold a current, valid license from the CSLB”.But does holding a ‘current, valid license’ mean that the contractor is qualified to do anything related to contracting? Absolutely not! You wouldn’t hire a podiatrist to perform eye surgery (unless you’re really into new experiences). Currently, there are 43 different classifications and before you feel too overwhelmed, it’s actually pretty easy to figure out what license classification you need. Let’s take a quick look at those classifications and break them down for real world use.

For the most part, the classifications are divided into two broad types: a general contractor and a specialty contractor. There are two types of general contractors – a General Engineering Contractor (designed with an “A”) and a General Building Contractor (“B”). A brief description of a general contractor might be an individual or company that usually oversees projects and coordinates the specific licensed subcontractors for a job – also known as the boss (at least I like to think so). Subcontractors, or Specialty Contractors, are identified by the letter “C” followed by a number that describes the specialty like roofing (C39) or electrical (C10). Here’s a list of the “C’s”:


  • C-2     Insulation and Acoustical Contractor
  • C-4     Boiler, Hot Water Heating & Steam Fitting
  • C-5     Framing & Rough Carpentry
  • C-6     Cabinet, Millwork & Finish Carpentry
  • C-7     Low Voltage Systems
  • C-8     Concrete
  • C-9     Drywall
  • C-10   Electrical
  • C-11   Elevator
  • C-12   Earthwork & Paving
  • C-13   Fencing
  • C-15   Flooring & Floor Covering
  • C-16   Fire Protection
  • C-17   Glazing
  • C-20   HVAC
  • C-21   Building Moving/Demolition
  • C-23   Ornamental Metal
  • C-27   Landscaping
  • C-28   Lock & Security Equipment
  • C-29   Masonry
  • C-31   Construction Zone Traffic Control
  • C-32   Parking & Highway Improvement
  • C-33   Painting & Decorating
  • C-34   Pipeline
  • C-35   Lathing & Plastering (aka stucco)
  • C-36   Plumbing
  • C-38   Refrigeration
  • C-39   Roofing
  • C-42   Sanitation System
  • C-43   Sheet meal
  • C-45   Sign
  • C-46   Solar
  • C-47   General Manufactured Housing
  • C-50   Reinforcing Steel
  • C-51   Structural Steel
  • C-53   Swimming Pool
  • C-54   Ceramic & Mosaic Tile
  • C-55   Water Conditioning
  • C-57   Water Well Drilling
  • C-60   Welding
  • C-61   Limited Specialty

It can be pretty obvious as to whom to call for a stopped up drain. Next, we’ll take a look at the not-so-obvious plus examine a couple of possible confusing scenarios.

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