Landscapers in California who work under their own contracts need to get licensed at the state level by the California Contractors State License Board. The board requires applicants to accumulate a certain amount of landscaping work experience. In addition, each applicant must also pass a California landscaping exam. These basic requirements are not enough, though. Each applicant must also pass a criminal background check and meet certain financial requirements before getting a California landscaper license.
Who Can Get a License?
An individual who is going to actually perform the work is a qualifying person if he meets the license requirements. A company who hires such a qualifying person can also get a California landscaping license.
There is no education or schooling requirement for a landscaper’s license. Instead, the board focuses on knowledge and skills acquired through work experience.
The board rules state that the qualifying person must have four years of landscaping experience. Only work as a contractor, journeyman, foreman or supervisor will count toward this four-year total. For example, internship or trainee spots are not awarded credit.
In addition to the experience, there are two tests – a general California Law and Business exam and the landscaping trade exam. Of course, you must pass both to become a qualifying person.
The “moral fitness” requirement is judged through a criminal background check. You will receive fingerprint instructions after applying for your exams and license.
Finally, financial fitness is measured in multiple ways. For starters, you need workers compensation insurance if you have employees. You also generally need $2500 in working capital for landscaping projects and a total of $20,000 in contractor surety bonds.
There are some exceptions to the license requirements and the general requirement for a license. Refer to the “Blueprint” document in the Resources below for details on license exceptions and acquisition procedures.
You may use the links in the Resources below to find study guides for each landscaper license exam in California. There is a list of exam references to prepare for both the Law and Business and landscaping contractor tests and an exam content outline to use a checklist when preparing.
Look for a link to the application below. This form is used by all California contractors applying to get a license. You have to pay $250 just to apply and $150 at the end once approved for a landscaping license. Make out payments to “Registrar of Contractors” to avoid delays.
Study Resources for the California Contractors Law and Business Exam
California Landscaping License Application
Study Guide and Reference Materials for the California Landscaping Exam
Blueprint for California Contractors for a Landscaping License