Elevator Contractors looking to charge over $500 in the state of California must have a C-11 License

C-11 License – Elevator Contractors

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The C-11 Contractor License is for technicians who perform elevator fabrication, installation, and repair looking to charge over $500 for their services in California.

This under-the-radar industry is seeing massive growth due to the large segment of the baby boomer generation that is entering old age and will require an in-home chair or handicap elevators. 

Demographic shifts have made residential elevator contractors some of the most in-demand specialist tradesmen in the construction industry.

This article will provide you with every single detail you need to know about how to get the C-11 Elevator Contractor License!

​​​​What is a C-11 Elevator Contractor?​

elevator technician shining a light through an elevator shaft

“An elevator contractor fabricates, erects, installs and repairs elevators, including sheave beams, motors, sheaves, cable and wire rope, guides, cab, counterweights, doors (including sidewalk elevator doors), automatic and manual controls, signal systems, and all other devices and equipment associated with the safe and efficient installation and operation of electrical, hydraulic and manually operated elevators”CSLB.GOV

A C-11 Elevator Contractor sometimes referred to as an elevator technician or elevator installer are a tradesman whose skills include:

  • Fabrication, Installation, Repair, Inspection and Maintenance
  • Cargo Elevators used in factories
  • Freight Elevators and Dumb-lifts
  • Handicap Elevators found in Government Buildings
  • Residential Chair elevators for seniors
  • The industry is growing more by the day as an increasing segment of the population look for cheap home elevator solutions either for themselves or family members. 
  • Elevator Contractors that are highly skilled, professional and licensed can quickly build a profitable business offering elevator services to a wide variety of industries.

The C-11 Elevator Contractor License is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to bid on services involving any elevator system where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.


governing agency for elevator contractors in california is the Contractors State License Board

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California.

Their responsibility is to protect the consumer public and ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state of California.

The C-11 License is issued to contractors by the CSLB.

The CSLB administers applications, exams, and maintains a database of all active and inactive contractor license numbers which are public domain.

​​​​Subcontractor License: C-11 ​

Old man coming down the stairs in a residential elevator lift

In many cases, Elevator contractors that hold the C-11 license work directly with homeowners, factories, or senior centers.

They may also be subcontracted by a General Contractor who has placed a bid on a project that includes elevator installation. 

Check out this article for an in-depth look at the General Contractor License!

C-11 License Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a Valid Drivers License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • A Certifier To Sign Off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the state asks

C-11 Online Practice Exams and Study Guides

What Is Journeyman Level Experience?

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for an elevator construction company, or for a contractor that holds the C-11 License.

  • A journeyman elevator contractor can perform all of the duties associated with his or her trade.

The CSLB will want to see four full-time years over the last ten years. The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be four years in total. 

Signature of a Certifier

The following people may be used as a certifier to sign off on your experience:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-11 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • Union Representative

Filling out your Contractor License Application

Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset.

The way this description is written will be critical to whether or not your application is accepted.

For example:

“John Martin has a lot of experience…” will not be enough.

 The CSLB will want to see something like:

John Martin has installed supports, constructed man-lifts, constructed hoist-way gates, and installed machinery calculated clearances” etc.

The description written by your qualifying individual will need to include the core skills required an elevator contractor.

Work Experience for the C-11 License

Elevator repairman with green shirt and yellow hard hat fixing and elevator door

You must be prepared to submit documentation supporting the experience you claim to have. The Contractors State License Board gives you a few ways that you can prove your experience.

  • Tax Returns
  • Check Stubs
  • Contracts
  • Material Order Invoices or Receipts

The CSLB  receives thousands of applications per month so there is a good chance they won’t document your experience but if you are one of the applicants that get reviewed you will need to be ready to submit something. 

The CSLB does not accept pictures of projects.

C-11 License Application, Fees, and Criminal History

The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year.

Typically you can expect:

  • 6-8 Week Application Processing Time
  • 3-4 Week wait for an Exam date

I have seen some situations where applicants got their test date sooner and somewhere they got their test date much later.

The most common reasons your application would get held up are:

  1. Time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays) 
  2. Criminal History 
  3. Proving Experience
  4. Mistakes on your application 

Application Costs for the C-11 License 

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractor License with a felony in California?

a wooden gavel laying on top of a platform. when applying for the awnings contractor license you will need to do a criminal background check

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-11 License. I have personally helped guys with all types of criminal records obtain multiple licenses.

The key is, to be honest on the application, even if the felony or misdemeanor happened years ago and even if it was expunged.

See the CSLB's verbiage below:

Just because you have been convicted of a crime does not automatically mean
your application will be denied. CSLB's Criminal Background Unit (CBU) reviews
all criminal convictions to determine if the crime is substantially related to
the duties, qualifications, and/or functions of a contractor. Since no two
conviction records are the same, they are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The
criteria used by CSLB include whether the crime shows the present or potential
unfitness of an applicant or licensee to perform the functions authorized by
the license in a manner consistent with the public health, safety, or welfare.
In addition, CSLB reviews and considers any evidence of rehabilitation
submitted by the applicant or licensee. Please see the above link to the
California Code of Regulations sections 868 and 869 for more specific
information on the criteria for determining substantial relationship and

Learn more about the Background Check Process here:

BE 100% HONEST ON THE APPLICATION, because they will see everything anyway when you do fingerprinting.

The CSLB handles criminal records on a case-by-case basis. Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public.

In my experience, they are primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with:

    • Fraud

    • Embezzlement 

    • Forgery

Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into 4 categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license apart from the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam in addition to the California LAW examination which is the same for all licenses.

Recommended Resources

C-11 Elevator Contractor License Exam

    • 115 Questions of Contractor License LAW

    • 115 Questions of Elevators

    • 3 Hours To Complete Each Portion

    • Multiple Choice Test

    • Close Book Exam

The C-11 Elevator Contractor Examination is divided into six key sections:

1. Planning and Estimation (11%)

    •     Plan conveyance projects

    •      Estimate conveyance projects

2. Project Preparation (5%)

    •   Preliminary set-up and permitting                 

3. Install and Modernize Elevators, Dumbwaiters, and Lifts (22%)

    • Disassembly and removal

    • Installation of equipment in hoist-ways, pits, and machine rooms

    • Install finishes

    • Electrical adjusting and testing

4.    Install and Modernize Escalators and Moving Walks (5%)

    • Removal, assembly, and installation

    • Electrical adjusting and testing

5.    Conveyance Repair, Maintenance, and Service (35%)

    • Maintenance of elevators, dumbwaiters, lifts, escalators, and moving walks

    • Service/trouble calls for elevators, dumbwaiters, lifts, escalators, and moving walks

    • Repair of elevators, dumbwaiters, lifts, escalators, and moving walks

6.    Safety (22%)

    • Employee safety

    • Job site safety

CSLB Test Locations

The CSLB has exam centers all over the state of California. Once your
application is approved you will be given a list of locations you can go and
take the exam based on your zip code.

These are proctored facilities with cubicles where you take the exam on a
computer. The computer will have a calculator for your use. You will not be
able to bring in a phone, notes, or personal calculator to the exam center.

    • You get 18 months after your application is accepted to pass both examinations.

    • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ($100 per retake)

Learn more about Contractor License LAW

Elevator License Exam Preparation

Two silver elevators in a lobby


Some things to remember:

    • The questions you will see on the exam may use outdated terms

    • Processes may be completely different from how things are done on the job site

    • You will see questions about things you may have never done before

    • Questions will be presented to you as if you are running a large scale construction business with several employees and jobs happening all at once. 

    • Know all aspects of your trade

I have helped elevator technicians from all over the country get licensed in California. Many are startled by how strange the questions on the exam are.

Be as prepared as you possibly can.

Studying just 10 minutes a day consistently can dramatically increase your chances of passing the test on your first try.

Being prepared is the most important thing you can do in ensuring your success on the contractor license exam.

Studying C-11 Elevator Test Questions along with explanations and diagrams for as little as 10 minutes a day is a small investment to make, but will increase your likelihood of success. 

Elevator Apprenticeship

Elevator floor buttons


If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level plumbing experience to get a C-11 license, your journey begins here.

Generally, someone looking to get into this trade would begin by finding a union or an elevator apprenticeship program.

For a detailed explanation of this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman!

Blue Print Reading Course

featured image for a blog post about blueprint reading


It is critical for anyone looking to get the C-11 License to be able to read drawings, symbols, and identify specific dimensions on construction blueprints to execute their job duties safely.

Completing elevator installation safely within a building often requires the ability to grasp construction blueprints.

The ability to quickly interpret blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesmen but especially for elevator contractors. Check out our: Free Blueprint Reading Course!

OSHA Certification

featured image for a blog post about OSHA certifications for elevator contractors


Occupational Safety Hazard Association

Statistically, 21% of all work-related fatalities are in construction.

That equals about 1 and 5 worker deaths on average.

In the construction industry, the leading cause of worker deaths is reported as falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in/between.

Elevator construction can be dangerous, especially if your workers are not properly trained. For employment with a steel contractor, it's typically required that you have completed some level of OSHA training.

 Learn more about OSHA Training!

EPA Certification

logo of the united states environmental protection agency


Containing lead paint when making any alterations to a home or structure built before 1978 is vital for C-11 Elevator Contractors.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set guidelines for how lead paint must be contained. 

Understanding the health effects of lead paint and proper procedures to contain or remove it are valuable skills for all tradesmen working in a residential or commercial setting.

Positioning yourself as the expert and a source of information for your clients is very important in creating repeat business. Learn more about the EPA Certification!


Getting the C-11 License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to start your own business or become an RMO for an existing elevator construction company!

The key is to take action and follow these steps from beginning to end. 

If you have found this article helpful feel free to drop a comment below and be sure to check back for updates!