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Working after obtaining your General Engineering Contractors License in CA

How to Get Your General Engineering Contractors License in CA

California boasts a vast and diverse construction industry, teeming with opportunities for professionals in the field. If you're aiming to become a General Engineering contractor in the Golden State, there's a structured path to follow. In this article, we will guide you through the process of obtaining a General Engineering Contractor license in California, delve into the role's intricacies, and distinguish it from a General Building Contractor license.

What is a general engineering contractor?

In California, a General Engineering contractor is a licensed professional specializing in a broad spectrum of construction work tied to engineering and infrastructure projects. These contractors are often immersed in projects that demand specialized knowledge and skills in the realm of civil engineering, construction, and heavy equipment operation. Here are the key facets of a General Engineering Contractor's role in California:

Infrastructure Projects: General Engineering contractors predominantly work on infrastructure-related projects, including the construction and maintenance of highways, bridges, tunnels, water supply systems, sewer systems, pipelines, dams, and other extensive public works projects.

Heavy Equipment Operation: They manage and operate heavy machinery and equipment, such as bulldozers, graders, pavers, excavators, and cranes, which are used for tasks like earthmoving, grading, excavation, and construction.

Engineering and Technical Expertise: These contractors often need a high level of technical and engineering expertise to plan, design, and oversee engineering projects while ensuring compliance with safety standards and engineering specifications.

Environmental Considerations: General Engineering contractors in California must also be well-versed in and compliant with environmental laws and regulations, especially when their projects have environmental impacts.

Collaboration with Professionals: They frequently collaborate with engineers, builders, architects, environmental consultants, and other experts to guarantee the successful execution of engineering projects.

Permitting and Regulatory Compliance: Part of their role entails obtaining necessary permits, licenses, and approvals for their projects, along with adherence to various local, state, and federal regulations.

If these projects align with your skills and career aspirations, it's a strong indicator that you're prepared to pursue the licensing process and potentially carve a successful career in the field of engineering.

How to get a general engineering contractor license in CA?

Securing a general engineering contractor license in California entails several steps and requirements. Here's a general overview of the process:

1. Meet Eligibility Requirements:

  • To be eligible for the A-General Engineering license, you must be at least 18 years old.
  • You should have a valid Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • You must have a minimum of four years of journey-level experience.

2. Obtain the Required Work Experience:

  • Your four years of journey-level experience should include hands-on work in the engineering field. This experience should be verifiable through payroll or similar records.

3. Prepare for the License Examination:

  • California mandates that all new applicants pass two examinations: the Law and Business exam and the General Engineering trade exam. The Law and Business exam delves into running a contracting business, contracts, liens, employment, etc., while the trade exam evaluates your knowledge in areas like estimation, structural principles, earthwork, subsurface work, and California's building codes.
  • Study materials and resources are available from the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) website or Contractors Intelligence School.

4. Submit Your License Application:

  • You need to submit a license application to the CSLB along with the required fees.
  • Alongside your application, you may be required to provide proof of your work experience and qualifications.

5. Schedule and Pass the License Examinations:

  • Once your application is processed and accepted, you must schedule the required examinations.
  • Passing all required examinations with a minimum score is necessary for license qualification.

6. Complete the Final Steps within 90-days of Passing Your Exams:

  • Pay the initial license fee.
  • Complete livescan fingerprinting.
  • Obtain a Contractor’s Bond and any additional bonding (if applicable).
  • Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance (if applicable).
  • Obtain General Liability Insurance (if applicable).
  • Complete the Asbestos Open Book Examination.

7. Receive Your A-General Engineering License:

  • After completing all the steps and meeting all the requirements, you will receive your A-General Engineering Contractor's License pocket card and wall certificate.

What is the difference between a general engineering contractor and a general building contractor?

Working after receiving a General Engineering Contractors License in California

An “A” General Engineering Contractor is licensed for projects requiring specialized engineering knowledge and skills, such as infrastructure construction, repair, alteration, and demolition. These projects involve large-scale public works like highways, bridges, water systems, sewage systems, pipelines, dams, and are integral to community functioning.

General Engineering Contractor in California surveying a project.

On the other hand, a “B” General Building Contractor has a broader scope, working on various construction projects related to buildings and structures, including residential, commercial, industrial, or institutional projects. Their role revolves around overseeing the construction process, managing subcontractors, ensuring building code compliance, and coordinating all aspects of a project, including hiring and supervising subcontractors for various trades. While General Building Contractors don't typically engage in specialized engineering work, they are responsible for the overall construction and project management.


Pursuing a General Engineering Contractor license in California offers a promising career path for those with a passion for infrastructure projects, heavy equipment operation, and engineering expertise. While the path may be challenging, the opportunities for growth and success in the engineering and infrastructure industry are abundant. So, take that first step, contact Contractors Intelligence School at 800-425-7570, and with dedication and determination, you can achieve your goal of becoming a licensed General Engineering contractor.

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