elevator technician shining a light through an elevator shaft

C-11 Elevator Contractor License

I have assisted elevator companies all around the country looking to do business in California to get the C-11 License for Elevator Contractors.

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. 

This demographic shift has made residential elevator contractors some of the most in-demand specialist tradesman 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?

"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.


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.

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

Contractors State License Board

​​​​Subcontractor License: C-11 

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!

Old man coming down the stairs in a residential elevator lift

Home Elevator System

featured image for a blog post about blueprint reading

Learn more 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 blue prints.

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

EPA Certification

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 tradesman 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!

logo of the united states environmental protection agency

Environmental Protection Agency

C-11 License Requirements

To get a C-10 License in California, you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a two part state exam with the Contractor State License Board.

To get an exam date you must meet the the following requirements

  • Be at least 18 Years of Age
  • Have a Valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #

You must also have:

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

What Is Journey 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 Qualifying Individual

The following people may be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience:

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

Filling out the C-11 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

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.

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

The CSLB may request to see proof of your elevator 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 some where 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?

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.

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 primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with:

  • Fraud
  • Embezzlement 
  • Forgery
wooden court gavel laying sideways

Be 100% Honest on your application

In the state of California, you are required to divulge any criminal charges when applying for any state license even if they have been expunged. You will need to be prepared to submit anything they ask for regarding your criminal history. 

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.

C-11 Elevator Contractor License Exam

  • 115 Questions of Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions of Elevators
  • 3 Hours To Complete Each Portion
  • check
    Multiple Choice. Closed 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

Currently, there are CSLB testing locations in the following cities:

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • The CSLB assigns you a testing location based on where you live when you apply for your license. 
  • You get 18 months after your application is accepted to pass both examinations.
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ($60 per retake)

Learn more about Contractor License LAW

Elevator License Exam Preparation

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
Two silver elevators in a lobby

The Contractor License Exam has 230 questions in total

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 mintues 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 ElevatorTest Questions a long 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

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 on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman!

Elevator floor buttons

Elevator Apprenticeships can teach you the fundamentals of your trade

OSHA Certification

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.

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

Occupational Safety Hazard Association

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

 Learn more about OSHA Training!


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!

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