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Supplies for those who have their C33 Painting & Decorating Contractor License

How To Get Your C33 Painting & Decorating Contractor License in California

If you possess an eye for detail, a passion for transforming spaces, and a desire to channel your artistic prowess into a fulfilling profession, consider obtaining a C33 Painting & Decorating Contractor's License in California. This license could be your ticket to success.

Do painters need a contractor's license in California?

Wondering if painters need a contractor's license in California? The answer depends on the total value of their projects. If the combined labor and materials costs exceed $500, a C33 Painting & Decorating contractor's license is required. This regulation ensures that contractors meet standards that prioritize both safety and work quality.

What You Need to Start a Painting Business in California

To embark on the path of obtaining the C33 Painting & Decorating contractor's license, begin by choosing a suitable business structure. The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) offers licenses for various business types such as:

  • Sole Ownership
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Joint Venture

Among these options, corporations and LLCs are required to register with the California Secretary of State. Conversely, most new businesses in California opt for a sole ownership when starting a painting company. Since sole ownership doesn't necessitate registration with the California Secretary of State, the process involves applying for a business license at your local city or county office. It's worth noting that even corporations and LLCs, despite their state-level registration, need to acquire a business license from their local municipalities.

The Costs to Get a Painting License in California

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

  • 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 painting contractor’s license, you are required to obtain a contractors bond. On average, this bond will cost $250 per year. LLCs are required to carry additional bonding, called the LLC/worker bond, which is estimated to cost $2,000 per year.
  • Insurance. There are two types of insurance that your business may require: general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. The CSLB may issue a painting license without these insurances, provided your company qualifies for exemptions. This is where you would verify the cost or exemption eligibility with 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.
getting ready for your C33 Painting License in CA

Painting and Decorating Contractors License Eligibility in CA

Before anyone can become a painting contractor in California, they must first be able to meet the qualifications and experience requirements set forth by the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB). The CSLB mandates the following:

  • Be at least 18 years or older.
  • Possess 4 years of journey level experience in the past ten years.
  • Have an SSN or ITIN.

Applying For a C33 Painting License in CA

Step 1: Complete the application process.

Complete the state application by filling it out, signing, and dating it. Then, submit the application along with the necessary application fee to the CSLB.

Step 2: Prepare for the Law & Business and Painting Examinations.

While waiting for the CSLB to review your application, use this time wisely to prepare yourself for the state exams. If enrolled into Contractors Intelligence School’s program, follow their recommended study strategy.

Step 3: Application Acceptance and Test Scheduling.

After the CSLB accepts your application, you'll receive a letter with instructions on how to schedule your exams with PSI. Take the time to thoroughly review your requirements and ensure that you've scheduled all the mandated exams.

Step 4: Passing the Exams.

On the day of the exam, you will need a valid photo ID to be admitted into the PSI testing center. Once admitted, you'll receive all the necessary materials to complete your exam(s). The law and business exam will have approximately 115 multiple-choice questions, with a time limit of three-and-a-half hours. Similarly, the painting trade exam will also have approximately 115 multiple-choice questions with a three-and-a-half-hour time limit. Your test results will be provided upon exiting the testing center, indicating whether you've passed or failed.

Step 5: Submitting Required Documentation for the Final Steps.

Before your license can be issued, it's important to follow the CSLB’s instructions and submit all the necessary documents, including the initial license fee, contractor's bond or bonds (if applicable), liability insurance (if applicable), livescan fingerprinting, workers' compensation insurance, and completion of an open book asbestos examination. You'll have 90 days to complete these steps after successfully passing all required exams.


Armed with the knowledge of obtaining a C33 Painting & Decorating contractor license, you're ready for the journey ahead. For guidance, reach out to Contractors Intelligence School at 1-800-425-7570. Let their experts help you shape your business into the masterpiece you've envisioned. As you apply your skills and aspirations to each project, may your career reflect the dedication and hard work you've invested. Here's to a future filled with successful painting and decorating endeavors.

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