Unlicensed And Tired Of It?

Are you contracting for landscape installation jobs without a license?
Then perhaps you're tired of looking over your shoulder?

Or maybe you're abiding by the law and sticking to landscape maintenance work? Then perhaps you're feeling in a rut with all those small maintenance jobs, wondering what it would be like to contract for large commercial maintenance, residential estate maintenance, or even landscape construction?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, the California Landscape Contractors Association strongly suggests you read on.

Licensure = Credibility = Dollars

You already know that licensed landscape contractors don't have to worry about getting busted, and you've probably noticed they get the choicest jobs. But do you have any idea how much money they make?

According to a recent CLCA wage survey, licensed landscape contractors take home an average of $72,000 a year. This is after they've paid their license fees, insurance fees, suppliers' bills, employees' salaries, and all other business expenses. What's more, this doesn't include additional benefits they typically enjoy, such as health insurance, vacation days and so forth. Even the smallest licensed landscape contractors, the ones whose annual gross sales are less than $150,000, take home $40,000 a year on average.

Now, our question for you is, do you pay yourself this kind of money?

If you don't, we think it's because you're not licensed!

Obtaining a license achieves more than just keeping the Contractors State License Board off your back. It gives you "credibility." With credibility you can charge more for your work and secure bigger and better jobs—the kind that put real money in your pocket.

The truth is, many CLCA members started out like you, either doing "mow, blow and go" maintenance work or small construction jobs without a license. Eventually, though, we got tired of being on the fringes of California's great economy. We wanted to make the big money too. So we became licensed. We think you can too.

Getting Your License

Obtaining your C-27 Landscaping Contractor's License isn't nearly as difficult as you might think.

There is a license exam, but contractors' license schools do a great job of preparing individuals like you to pass it, and a school is sure to be located near you. If you're uncomfortable taking the test in English, you have a right to request translation assistance. Exams are given at several locations throughout California, so it's unlikely you'll have to travel very far. And, if you don't pass the first time, you still can take the exam as often as the CSLB can schedule you to do so within an 18-month period before you have to submit a new application.

You also need four years' experience in the landscape trade in order to be eligible for licensure. The odds are, though, you already have it. Also keep in mind that you may be able to receive credit for education, technical training, or apprenticeship training in lieu of a portion of the required four years of practical experience.

It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to apply for and maintain a license. The application fee is $300. License fees run $180 per year. In addition to license fees, there is a license bond requirement for contractors. These bonds typically cost less than $120 per year with a good credit score. Compare these fees with what you could make as a licensed landscape contractor!

Eligibility for CLCA Membership

Once you obtain your license, you'll be eligible to join the California Landscape Contractors Association. As a CLCA member you'll enjoy great insurance rates, access to information, industry contacts, professional development opportunities, legal forms and assistance, the right to enter landscape awards competitions, the prestige of displaying the association's logo, and more.

Operation Helping Hand

CLCA's Operation Helping Hand is intended to help you get that all-important license. Operation Helping Hand seeks to provide you with resources to help you decide whether to apply for a license and, if your answer is "yes," to begin preparing for it. To take advantage of this CLCA program, click on the links to Online Resources on this page.

CLCA has members in your area who are willing to serve as a mentor to guide you in your effort to become licensed. The links on the right include a list of Helping Hand mentors.

Be assured that all contacts with CLCA are strictly confidential.


"Getting a license helped me win bigger jobs and grow as a company, as well as enjoy all the benefits of CLCA membership."

Pedro Navarro
Blue Skies Landscape Maintenance
San Diego

"Like many other landscape contractors, I started out without a license and wasn't even aware that one was required. It took prompting and assistance from a local nurseryman to move me toward becoming a legitimate, licensed contractor. I'm now into the twenty-fifth year of my contractor career, and I can truthfully say that the knowledge required to attain that license hanging on my wall has played a big role in my success. I know licensure can do the same for others."

Jeffrey Sheehan
Confidence Landscaping Inc.

Resource Links