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a career in HVAC - c20 license

How to Get Your C20 HVAC Contractors License in CA

If you're enthusiastic about a career in the HVAC sector and aspire to run your own contracting business, the C20 license could be an ideal match.

Does California Require a HVAC contractor's license?

Yes, California requires a C20 contractor's license when a company will be charging a customer $500 or more in labor and/or materials for any HVAC work. Contractors, including subcontractors, specialty contractors, and individuals engaged in the business of home improvement, must be licensed before submitting bids.

How do I get my California HVAC contractor's license?

Obtaining the C20 Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) California contractor's license requires applying for the license and successfully passing two state exams: the Law & Business exam, as well as the C20 Trade exam. The state application is arguably the most tedious part of the licensing process and must be submitted to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) with the appropriate fees included. The application process can be completed by yourself, or you can enlist the help of Contractors Intelligence School to help alleviate some of the tediousness. The entire licensing process can be summarized in the following steps:

Step 1: Consider the state's requirements to determine if you qualify to sit for the exams.

Step 2: Enroll into a course with Contractors Intelligence School.

Step 3: Establish a business entity and complete the state application.

Step 4: Prepare for the state examinations by reviewing the state's study guide and/or using study materials provided by Contractors Intelligence School.

Step 5: Schedule and pass all the required state examinations.

Step 6: Fulfill any final steps outlined by the CSLB.

California HVAC License C20 Requirements.

Like all contractor licenses in California, you must meet the requirements established by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). These requirements are as follows:

  • Be at least 18 years or older. This demonstrates the CSLB's commitment to entrusting the HVAC industry to those who have reached a level of maturity and responsibility.
  • 4 years of journey level experience. When considering this requirement, you must demonstrate four years of journey-level experience within the past 10 years. This experience is typically acquired by working for a licensed C20 HVAC contractor, but it can also be a combination of completed apprenticeship programs, education, and fieldwork.
  • SSN or ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).

Can My Education Substitute the Experience Requirements?

Education is not a requirement to apply for a C20 contractor's license, but it can be used to substitute for a portion of the 4-year experience requirement. The CSLB may grant credit towards the work experience requirement for a completed apprenticeship program, technical training, or education at an accredited school. You will need to provide written documentation, including copies of apprenticeship completion certificates and official transcripts, with your application. Credit is not given for high school coursework. All documents are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

What Are the Costs Associated with Obtaining a C20 License?

The cost of obtaining a contractor's license typically includes the following:

Performing HVAC work after obtaining a C20 License in California

  • Business entity registration (if applicable). This fee can vary from one county or city to another. It is best to obtain the dollar amount from the agency where you are registering your business.
  • CSLB fees. The Application for Original Contractors License is $450 and the Initial License Fee is $200 for Sole Ownership companies, and $350 for non-sole-ownership companies.
  • School fees. If you enroll into an exam preparation program, Contractors Intelligence charges between $295 and $495 for their most popular courses. Your results may vary with other schools.
  • Bonding. When you pass the state exams and before you are issued a C20 contractor's license, you are required to obtain a contractors bond. On average, this bond will cost $250 per year. Limited Liability Company's (LLCs) are required to carry additional bonding, called the LLC/worker bond, which is estimated to cost $2,000 per year.
  • Insurance. Your business may have two insurance requirements: general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. General liability insurance is mandatory if you're applying for a contractor's license as an LLC; otherwise, it's not required for the CSLB to issue a contractor's license number. Conversely, a C20 contractor's license cannot be granted until the company secures workers' compensation insurance. Effective January 1st, 2023, C20 HVAC companies are unable to exempt themselves from workers' compensation insurance, even if they lack any employees. To understand the costs associated with these insurances, it's advisable to consult a licensed insurance agent.
  • Livescan fingerprinting. When getting your livescan fingerprints done, you will pay an estimated $75. This fee typically comprises of the Department of Justice (DOJ) fee, FBI fee, and the livescan location rolling fee.

How to Know the CA C20 License Is a Good Fit?

The C20 contractor’s license encompasses a range of activities related to warm-air heating systems, ventilating systems, air-conditioning systems, and associated components like ducts, registers, flues, humidity and thermostatic controls, and air filters. This license category also extends to systems that incorporate solar energy for heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning.

Yet, this description only scratches the surface. Considering California's scorching summers and snow-covered mountainous regions, there is a perpetual demand for HVAC contractors. This presents an ongoing business opportunity regardless of the season. Moreover, the HVAC industry, driven by the need for energy efficiency, propels forward with rapid technological advancements, setting the stage for substantial business expansion.

Reach out to Contractors Intelligence School today at 1-800-425-7570 to kickstart your journey. Your future in the HVAC industry awaits.

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