how to pass your painting contractor license test

California Painting Contractor License Test!

Table of Contents

In California, there are over 73 Trades available to get licensed.

The Painting License in California is known as the C-33 for Painting and Decorating Contractors.

Anyone looking to charge over $500 for services related to residential or commercial painting, has to register with the Contractors State License Board and pass a two-part exam.

Several cans of paint and a brush laying on top. to qualify for for a date to take the california painting contractor license test you have to have a minimum of 4 years journey level experience

Painting License Requirements

To take the California painting contractor license test, you must fill out an application with the CSLB.

Before you apply make sure that you meet the basic requirements for a contractor license:

  • 18 Years of Age
  • Driver's License or USA Identification
  • Social Security or ITIN #
  • 4 Years Journeyman Level Experience as a Painter
  • Not Currently On Probation or Parole

How To Prove Your Experience for the Painting License

On your application, you will need to include the signature of someone that can vouch for your experience.

This person can be any of the following

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • Licensed Painting Contractor (C-33 License)
  • Employer or Fellow Employee ( Last 10 years )
  • Foreman or Supervisor
  • Journeyman
  • Business Associate

The person you choose will need to write a brief description of your experience and all of the duties they have seen you do.

Applicants looking to take the California painting contractor license test should have experience:

  • Preparing and Cleaning Walls
  • Applying prime and finish coats
  • Stain and Interior Work
  • Trim Work
  • Texture Coating and Varnish Work
  • Using Rollers 
  • Spraying Acoustical Ceiling
  • Patched and Spackled Walls

For a full list of the required skills, a painting contractor must know, as well as information on the different ways you can prove your experience.

Check out the Complete C-33 Painting Contractor License Guide!


logo of the contractors state license board. image features a hand saw, paint brush and cement truck with the letters CSLB above in white

The Current CSLB fees to get the painting contractor license are:

California Painting License Test

  • 115 Questions of LAW
  • 115 Questions of TRADE (C-33)
  • Multiple Choice / Computer Test
  • You get 3 Hours to Complete each Section
  • $60 Per Re-Take

Below is a statistical breakdown of what you need to know to pass each section:


1. Business Organization and Licensing (13%)

  •  Company organization
  •  Licensing organization
  • Advertising and subcontracting

2. Business Finances (15%)

  • Cash management
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes
  • Financial reporting

3. Employment Requirements (20%)

  • Hiring employees
  • Supervising and training employees
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll

4. Bonds, Insurance, and Liens (10%)

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

5. Contract Requirements and Execution (21%)

  • Bidding
  • Cost control
  • Contracts
  • Payments

7. Safety (14%)

  • Training and reporting requirements
  • General safety
  • Hazardous/unknown materials

8. Public Works (5%)

  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Bonding Requirements
  • Insurance requirements

TRADE (C-33)

1. Planning and Estimation (28%)

  • Evaluating job sites
  • Selecting tools, equipment, and materials
  • Selecting paint, stain, and finish colors
  • Reading blueprints and specifications
  • Calculating job costs for materials, supplies, equipment and labor

2. Substrate Repair and Surface Preparation (30%)

  •  Identifying problems
  • Scraping, sanding, and wallpaper removal
  • Patching, caulking, and repairing
  • Masking and protecting job sites
  • Removing paint and cleaning surfaces
  • Applying primer

3. Application of Paint, Wallcoverings, and Finishes (21%)

  • Applying paint and wallcoverings to surfaces
  • Painting surfaces
  • Applying waterproofing or sealant
  • Staining, sealing, and finishing wood surfaces
  • Applying touch-ups and cleaning work areas

4. Safety (21%)

  • Tool and equipment safety
  • Personnel safety
  • Environmental safety
  • Handling hazardous materials
  • CAL/OSHA safety requirements

Recommended Courses

C-33 License Sample Test Questions

A painting contractor spraying a wooden porch. The California painting contractor license test will cover law and trade

*Correct answer is underlined

1. What is the square footage of a gable 12 ft. wide by 6 ft. high?

a. 24 sq. ft.

b. 36 sq. ft.

c. 42 sq. ft.

d. 72 sq. ft.

2. Which tool should be used to apply chemical strippers?

a. A sponge roller

b. A damp rag

c. A wire brush

d. A bristle brush

3. What effect will cold, damp days have on primers?

a. The surface will become brittle.

b. The drying time will increase.

c. The top coat will discolor.

d. Fish eye will occur.


Passing the California painting contractor license test can be easy if you have the right information. 

The trick is to study to the right information, and that means getting the correct study materials.

For a more in-depth look at what you need to know to get the painting license including:

  • Filling out the C-33 License Application
  • Becoming EPA Certified for Lead Paint
  • More Requirements and Proving Your Experience
  • Bonding
  • CSLB Testing Locations
  • Bringing a Translator to the painting contractor license test

Check out the Complete C-33 Painting Contractor License Guide!

If you have found this article helpful be sure to leave a comment and check back in the future for updates!