how to get your california locksmith license

California Locksmith License: What Can You Do With a D-16 License?

Table of Contents

In this article, you will learn how to get a locksmith license.

The C-61/D-16 for Hardware, Locks, and Safes is one of 73 contractor license classifications available in California. Contractors in the state of California are governed by the CSLB (Contractors State License Board)

There are 4 major classification categories:

  • A-General Engineering
  • B-General Building
  • C-Specialty
  • C-61 Limited Specialty

Commonly referred to as simply the “D-16 license“, this classification falls under the C-61 Limited Specialty category.

This group of classifications are generally more obscure in nature and unlike the other classifications, does not require a trade exam.

What can I do with a C-61/D-16 License?

Most contractors that hold this license offer services similar to a locksmith. 

This may include:

  • Installing Locks & Safes
  • Mobile Locksmith Services and Repair
  • Access Control
  • Key Cutting and Re-Keying
  • Developing Master Key Systems
  • Safe Moving, Installation, and Bolting

Could I just get a locksmith certification?


If you are taking on small projects under $500, you could simply get a locksmith business license which is required for anyone performing locksmithing services in the state of California. 

To get this, you would register with the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services

However, if you are looking to expand your business and intend to take on major locksmith-related projects over $500 you would instead get a D-16 Hardware, Locks, and Safes Contractor License.

how to get your California locksmith license for D-16 hardware, locks, and safes

California Contractor License Requirements for Locksmiths

To get a C-61/D-16 License for Hardware, Locks, and Safes you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • 18 Years of Age
  • 4 Years of Journeyman Level Experience
  • Social Security or ITIN #
  • Not Currently on Probation or Parole
  • Signature from a licensed contractor, fellow employee, supervisor, or business associate 

Common License Pairings for Locksmiths

There are thousands of licensed contractors in the state of California.

Many of the individuals and companies that hold the D-16 California Locksmith License also hold other classifications and are offering an array of other services related to hardware, locks, safes, and security.

The four main classifications related to the D-16 Hardware, Locks, and Safes classification are:

While each one of these classifications is related and may be related in nature…it might not make sense for your particular business to hold all of them. 

You will want to explore your long-term business goals as well as your skillset.

If you are simply looking to perform simple locksmithing projects, it will make sense just to get the D-16 by itself.

California Contractors License Test

California Locksmiths looking to get their D-16 locksmith contractor license will be tested on the following areas:

1. Business Organization (10%) 

  • Company organization 
  • Project organization

2. Business Finances (15%) 

  • Cash management 
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes Financial reporting

3. Employment Requirements (12%) 

  • Employment regulations 
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll

4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%) 

  • Bonds 
  • Workers’ compensation insurance 
  • Liens and other remedies
  • Other insurance

5. Contract Requirements and Execution (23%) 

  • Bidding 
  • Cost control
  • Contracts
  • Payments

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

What's the exam process like?

The exam will be:

  • 115 Questions
  • Multiple Choice
  • Closed Book
  • 3 Hours to Complete
  • Taken via Computer at a CSLB Testing Facility
  • Exam Centers in: Berkeley, Fresno, Norwalk, Oxnard, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, and San Jose

What kind of math skills do I need?

When it comes to the California contractor license test. You will want to make sure that your math skills are up to par. 

It is important to remember that this is a law examination in which questions will be presented to you as if you are a General Building Contractor with multiple projects running simultaneously.

You can expect math questions related to:

  • Arithmetic
  • Cost Estimation 
  • Calculating Square Footage
  • Units of Measurement
  • Percentages and Decimals

Preparing for Your CSLB license exam

Our complete course will break down all of the essential knowledge you must know to be successful on your CSLB law & business examination.

In addition to passing your exam, you will also be equipped with valuable knowledge that will give you a crash course in how to run a contracting business effectively and profitably.

You will learn:

  • Company organization 
  • How to bid effectively
  • Understanding cost control
  • Various contract types
  • Cash management
  • Estimation fundamentals
  • Business Structures
  • Worker’s Compensation and Taxes
  • Insurance Types in Construction
  • Labor Laws and Employee Rights
  • Hiring and Firing Practices
  • Contractor Bonds
  • Mechanics Liens
  • State Laws and Statutes
  • Project Management 101
  • Prevailing Wages and Public Works
  • And Much More!