Question: I teach statistics at a local...


Question: I teach statistics at a local school. One of your recent articles stated that there were more than 160,000 licensed contractors in California. How can this be? I told my statistics class that you were wrong, but that if you were proved right, I would raise their grade points on their next exam by 5%.

Answer: You’d better give them all “A’s.” I recently purchased the state tape of licensed contractors for California, and there were more than 168,000 listed.

I should point out that only about 145,000 of these are active, while the others leave their licenses in an inactive position, which they may do by paying their fee.


Also, many contractors have more than one license. A plumbing contractor, for example, may hold both a plumbing and heating contractor’s license. In other instances, a contractor may have a license as an individual and a second one for his corporation or a joint venture.

Even with these duplicate licenses, the number of active licensees exceeds 100,000, of whom 50% have B-general contractors licenses.

Also, many persons who are not active as contractors will carry licenses. For example, a carpenter working for a licensed general contractor may be licensed as a general contractor himself, but may not use that license.

I estimate that no more than 20% of all licensees actively practice construction at any time.

I can further substantiate that there are at least 100,000 contractors with active licenses. Only one license bond is required per firm, regardless of multiple licenses held therein.

Contracting firms in California hold far more than 140,000 license bonds.