A Contractor License is a form of license for tradesman who offer specialized construction related services. In California there are over 73 different classifications of license.
There are several reasons why a tradesman needs a contractor license:
- The state of California requires it in order to charge over $500 for services
- A homeowner or companies insurance policy may require that work is done by a licensed contractor
- A company looking to advertise must be licensed
- Suppliers may require it or offer better terms to licensed contractors
The Contractors State License Board has a classification for almost every trade imaginable; however you can obtain the D-64 Non-specialized if you have not found your specific trade listed here.
This article will cover everything you need to know about how to get a D-64 license, the state exam, study guides, and even how to fill out the application.
What is a C-61 / D-64 Non-Specialized Contractor?
"A nonspecialized contractor installs, modifies, maintains and repairs new products and/or new installations which are not defined in any section herein or defined in any license classification authorized by the Board under Chapter 9, Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code (Contractors License Law)" - CSLB.GOV
The D-64 is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to contract for installation, modification or repair of products that are not listed by the CSLB where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500
Services that could fall under the D-64 License
The term "Non-specialized" may refer to tradesman that engage in a variety of different activities including:
What is a subcontractor?
A subcontractor could be hired in a number of different settings. Generally they are hired to perform a trade specific task that they specialize in.
In some cases state law will require that electrical or roofing duties are performed by a contractor holding that specific license.
General Contractors oversee that the subcontractor has executed their duties to code and to the specific requests of a client.
Learn more about the General Contractor License.
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.
- They ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state.
- The CSLB has a statewide task force that engages in sting operations to stop un-licensed construction activity.
Getting caught contracting without a license in California is punishable with fines up to $15,000 and 6 months in the the county jail.
The CSLB issues the C-61/D-64 license in the state of California.
Contractor License Requirements
To get the C-61/D-64 license for non specialized contractors you must meet the following requirements:
What is a Journey level experience?
To get the C-61/D-64 license, you must have 4 years journeyman level experience
Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a company, or for a contractor that holds a Contractor License.
- A journeyman 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 when applying for the D-64 license:
Filling out the 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:
“Ben is a nice guy and very experienced” is not descriptive enough.
The CSLB will want to see a detailed description of your daily duties and the skill sets associated with your area of expertise.
Proving your work experience
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
- 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.
Application Processing, 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:
- Time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays)
- Criminal History
- Proving Experience
- Mistakes on your application
The Current CSLB fees are:
Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?
Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-61/D-64 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, Forgery and Embezzlement.
The Contractor License Exam
Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:
1) A-General Engineering
2) B-General Building
3) C-Specialty classes
4) C-61 / 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.
The exam will consist of:
The Law Examination is divided into eight major sections:
1. Business Organization (10%)
- Company organization
- Project organization
2. Business Finances (15%)
- Cash management
- Budget and planning
- Financial reporting
3. Employment Requirements (12%)
- Employment regulations
- Evaluation and record-keeping
4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%)
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Liens and other remedies
- Other insurance
5. Contract Requirements and Execution (23%)
- Cost control
6. Licensing Requirements (8%)
- Business license
- Contractor’s license
- Activity regulation
7. Safety (15%)
- Training and reporting requirements
- General safety
- Hazardous/unknown materials
8. Public Works (7%)
- Prevailing wage requirements
- Bonding requirements
- Insurance requirements
Learn more about Contractor License LAW
CSLB Test Locations
Currently the CSLB has testing locations in the following cities:
- San Jose
- San Bernardino
- San Diego
- The test is not available online
- The CSLB allows you to bring a pre-approved translator with you
- The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass the examination
- You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ($60 per retake)
Contractor License Study Guides and Practice Tests
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 structural steel companies from all over the country get licensed in California. Many are startled by how strict the laws are here.
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.
Focus on and study ONLY the information that you need to pass the LAW & Business Test.
If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to obtain the C-61/D-64 license or any other construction classification, not to worry. Your journey begins here.
Construction is a billion dollar industry with unlimited income opportunity. Usually someone looking to get into the trades would find an apprenticeship.
For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman.
Blueprint Reading Course
Anyone working in a construction setting or offering services to the residential consumer public, should know how to read blueprints.
Being comfortable with construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but is especially important for those looking to get a D-64 License. See our Free Blueprint Reading Course.
Environmental Protection Agency
Understanding how to safely contain lead-based paint when altering structures built before 1978 is required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The most profitable glazing contractors are ones that position themselves as the experts and are the most knowledgable and helpful to their clients.
Becoming EPA Certified can help you expand your business and can be completed in a one day 8 hour course.
Staying EPA compliant is not only important to the survival of your business but also the safety of your customers. For a complete guide on how to get the EPA Certification, check out this article.
Getting a Contractor License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to open your company or take on larger clients!
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!