CA Swimming Pool and Roofing Contractor License

How to Become a Licensed California Roofing & Swimming Pool Contractor in 5 Easy Steps

As a contractor, it can be very profitable to specialize in a particular type of construction. For example, in California, the specialties of roofing contractors and swimming pool contractors are always in demand. However, in California,  you must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) in order to work as a roofing or swimming pool contractor. California is one of about 20 states that require roofing contractors and swimming pool contractors to obtain specialty contractor's licenses. In addition, all contractors in California are required to obtain a contractor bond to protect the public from any potential damages that may occur as a result of their work. Though obtaining a license and bond is not a complicated process, there are a number of important steps to follow to ensure your application is approved the first time.

In this guide, we will go through all of the steps to obtain your contractor license for roofing or swimming pool work in California.

What is a California Roofing and Pool Contractor?

In California, roofing contractors and swimming pool contractors are two different classes of construction professionals:

A California roofing contractor is a professional who specializes in installing and maintaining roofs for residential and commercial buildings. This work includes installing products that seal, waterproof and weatherproof structures, including asphaltum, pitch, tar, felt, glass fabric, urethane foam, metal roofing systems, flax, shakes, shingles, roof tile, slate, or any other roofing, waterproofing, weatherproofing or membrane material(s).

A California swimming pool contractor is a professional who constructs swimming pools, spas or hot tubs, including the installation of solar heating equipment used in pools and spas.

While these two construction specialties focus on different projects, what they have in common is that anyone wishing to provide the professional services listed above needs to first obtain a license from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB).

How to Become a Licensed Pool or Roofing Contractor in California

If you are interested in becoming a licensed roofing or swimming pool contractor in California, there are eligibility requirements you must meet and a number of steps that you must take. Keep reading to learn each step of the licensing process.

Step 1: Meet the eligibility and experience requirements

The CSLB requires that at least one owner or employee of the contractor business is designated as a qualifying individual for each license class. To be a qualifying individual, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. These include:

  • Being at least 18 years of age;
  • Having a Social Security number or ITIN;
  • Having a high school diploma or equivalent, such as a General Educational Development (GED) or California High School Proficiency exam;
  • Having a minimum of four years of experience (within the past 10 years) in roofing or swimming pool construction, at least one year of which must be under the direct supervision of a licensed contractor; OR
  • A college degree in a relevant field and at least one year of roofing or swimming pool construction experience, including self-employed experience.

Step 2: Determine your license class

The next step to obtaining your roofing or swimming pool contractor license is to determine what license class applies to your business. The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) offers four different types of contractor licenses, depending on the specific work that you will be performing. These include:

  • Class A: General Engineering Contractor (GEC). This license is required for contractors whose work involves general engineering or building construction, including structural and non-structural systems.
  • Class B: General Building Contractor (GBC). This license is required for contractors whose work involves general building and/or non-structural systems, such as plumbing and electrical work.
  • Class C: Specialty Contractor (SC). This license is required for contractors whose work involves specialty trades, including painting and decorating, flooring, insulation, landscaping, masonry and concrete services, and electrical and plumbing work.

Both roofing contractors and swimming pool contractors are considered Class C specialty contractors. The specific classifications are:

  • Class C-39: Roofing Contractor. This license is required for contractors whose work involves the installation and repair of roofs, waterproofing membranes, and weatherproofing materials.
  • Class C-53: Swimming Pool Contractor (SPC). This license is required for contractors whose work involves the construction, alteration, or repair of swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs.

You must designate the correct class for your contracting business in order for your application to be approved.

Step 3: Submit an application

Once you have determined your license class and fulfilled all of the eligibility requirements, the next step is to submit an application for your license. The "Application for Original Contractor License" is the form the CSLB uses for new applicants and is for all classes and business entity types, including limited liability companies.

The California contractor license application can be filled out online or printed out and completed.

The application includes multiple sections, all of which need to be filled out completely:

  • Business Entity Type
  • Qualifying Individual Information
  • Other Personnel (to be listed on the license)
  • Qualifying Education
  • Examination Requirements

Additionally, all applicants for licensure must submit a full set of fingerprints for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check. This background check will pull records from both the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to determine whether a criminal history exists.

Individuals in California are required to fingerprint by electronic live scan; individuals outside of California can fingerprint either by electronic live scan in California or by submitting hard card fingerprints that are completed in the applicant’s location. Instructions for submitting fingerprints will be provided to you by the CSLB after your license application has been submitted.

Once your application is complete, you will need to submit it by mail to the CSLB along with any required supporting documentation, such as proof of experience or education. You must also pay the applicable license fee, which is a nonrefundable $450. A separate initial owner license fee ($200 for sole owners and $350 for non-sole owners) must be submitted after you pass the examination.

Step 4: Pass the knowledge exam

Before a contractor's license can be granted, the designated qualifying individual on your application must first pass a written Law and Business Examination and a specific trade examination (if required). This exam is required for all trades and consists of questions from a range of topics, including business management and law, lien laws, construction safety, workers’ compensation, building codes, and trade-related practice.

The contractor’s exam is administered at testing centers throughout the state of California. You can search for a testing center near you and register for an exam date through the CSLB website. Once you've completed the exam, your results will be sent to the CSLB. You will need to wait for your exam results to be released before moving on to the next step in the licensing process.

In some cases, the qualifying individual may be eligible for a waiver of the exam. You can find more information about exam waivers on the CSLB website.

Step 5: Obtain a surety bond

In addition to passing the required knowledge exams, contractors in California must also obtain a California Swimming Pool and Roofing Contractor License Bond before their license can be issued. A surety bond is a contract between three entities: the principal (the contractor), the obligee or entity requiring the bond (in this case, the Contractors State License Board), and the surety company (the company that sells and financially backs the bond). This requirement is designed to protect home and property owners by ensuring that they have a method of recuperating losses in the event a contractor fails to complete their work per the specs of the contract or in accordance with state and local licensing laws.

For all swimming pool and roofing contractors, the required bond amount is $25,000.

Additionally, applicants who are registered as an LLC must also obtain a $100,000 California LLC Employee/Worker Bond.

The amount you will pay for your CA Contractor License Bond (CLB) depends on your credit history and years of experience. With strong financials and experience, your annual premium could be as low as 1 - 2% of the bond amount.

Once you have purchased your CA CLB, you must submit your bond to the CSLB. California roofing and swimming pool contractors must maintain an active bond at all times to remain legally licensed in the state.

Get Your California Roofing and Swimming Pool Contractor Bond Today!

If you're looking to start a career as a roofing or swimming pool contractor in California, one of the easiest ways to obtain your contractor bond is to contact South Coast Surety! Our team of experts is dedicated to providing fast and easy bonding services for contractors throughout California.

To get started, simply apply online today. We will review your application and contact you regarding your free, no-obligation quote within 48 hours. With our fast turnaround times, competitive rates, and friendly service, we guarantee that you'll be satisfied with your experience!

Key Takeaways

  • To work as a roofing or swimming pool contractor in California, you must be licensed by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). 
  • Qualifying individuals can apply for a license by completing all of the steps in the licensing process, including determining the correct license class, submitting a complete and accurate application with the required supporting documents, passing the required exam(s), and obtaining a surety bond.
  • All roofing and swimming pool contractors are required to purchase a $25,000 Contractor License Bond to be licensed.
  • Contractors registered as an LLC must also obtain a $100,000 California LLC Employee/Worker Bond.
  • Annual bond premiums depend on your credit and industry experience, as well as the amount of the bond you are required to have.

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