In the state of California, the General Contractor License exam is only offered in English.
However, you are allowed to bring a translator with you on the day of the examination.
The Contractors State License Board does have specific requirements and restrictions for who can and cannot be your translator. The person that you bring:
- Cannot be a Licensed Contractor or be involved in the construction
- Can not apply for their own Contractor License for 4 years
The person that you bring with you to translate on the day of the exam can only read the questions to you.
Since the test is multiple choice and taken on a computer, you will have to select the correct answers on the screen.
When you apply for your General Contractor License:
- Submit an Application (check the box when it asks you if you need a translator)
- Have your translator fill out the form that they send you. Send the application back
- Wait for a Test Date
- Take the computerized exam with your translator at a State Testing Facility
California is actually one of the more lenient states in the country when it comes to non-native English-speaking applicants.
Despite this leniency, the test must be taken in English.
Spanish Speaking General Contractor License Study Guides
Typically if someone is applying for a license, it isn't so much the technical skills and knowledge that trips people up as much as translating words.
It is essential to understand the content that you can expect to see on the general contractor license test.
The test will include key concepts including:
- Planning and Estimating
- Framing and Structural Components
- Core Trades (Plumbing, HVAC, Electrical, Roofing, Concrete, Framing, Earthwork and Surveying, and Insulation)
- Finish Trades
For a deeper look at the General Contractor License exam, click here.
Spanish and English Construction Phrases
Many construction phrases in English and Spanish much like the rest of the language can be very similar:
- El Costo = The Cost
- El Projecto = The Project
While some construction terms can differ greatly:
- El edificio = The Building
- Los Ladrillos = The Bricks
I have seen many guys who speak Spanish and other languages get stuck on the vocabulary.
This often takes up valuable study time that can be put towards learning LAW concepts and processes they will need to know for the Law and the Business portion of the test.
- Focus on learning the concepts and LAWS in your native language
- Do not try to learn every single phrase and piece of vocabulary
- Use the context of the question to translate the words you do not know
If you do plan on bringing a translator
Make sure that you guys are on the same page and that this person will be able to translate the English questions into Spanish in a way that you will understand.
Having a translator on your test can be a big help, but if not done correctly it can be a colossal mistake and cause more confusion than good.
The California General Contractor License Exam
To get the Contractor License in California, you must pass two exams:
- CA Health and Safety
- Hiring and Firing Practices
- Employee Rights
- Building Codes
- Job Site / WorkerSafety
- Core Trades / Finish Trades