Women Paving The Way In The Construction Industry

Women have traditionally played a small role in the construction industry. Now, they are filling a gap in an occupation that’s short on workers while also building opportunities for young girls who are interested in lucrative and fulfilling careers.

According to the National Association of Women in Construction, 9.1 percent of the industry is comprised of women, but over the past 10 years there’s been a steady increase of females employed in the profession.

Not only are women discovering there are plenty of opportunities in the construction industry – notably economic security – but they are also finding the work to be rewarding.

The influx of women in construction is especially good news for an industry that’s facing an acute labor shortage. Many construction firms have struggled to find skilled carpenters, welders, masons and other motivated professionals.

As suburban/urban sprawl takes shape throughout the country, the need for housing increases, and as areas look to rebuild after disastrous wildfires, the demand for licensed contractors and construction workers will continue to rise.

Consequently, many construction companies are taking creative approaches to tackle the gender gap with hopes of bringing more young and diverse workers into the field. Some have even established privately funded programs that include mentorships and training workshops for women.

In addition, women have also taken the lead and are forming their own outreach programs.  Organizations such as the National Association of Women in Construction and Women in Construction Operations have created networking chapters throughout the country that provide information on educational opportunities in the business.

“As women take on more leadership positions in the construction industry, they show future generations of female workers that it’s possible to succeed in what’s historically been a predominantly male field,” said CSLB Registrar Dave Fogt. “Now more than ever women are considering careers in construction and are quickly making their way into leadership roles, which is something to celebrate.”

As the construction industry continues to experience rapid growth in nearly every facet from residential and commercial to industrial and heavy civil (including bridge and road work), there’s never been a better time for women to seize the opportunities that are available to them.

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) website has a wealth of information for consumers, licensees  and those looking for a career as a licensed contractor. CSLB protects consumers by licensing and regulating the state’s construction industry and today licenses nearly 290,000 contractors in 44 different license classifications.

To help you get started with your career as a California licensed contractor, CSLB urges you to pay close attention to license requirements when beginning the application process.


  • GETTING STARTED: A licensed contractor must be 18 years of age or older, have either a Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number, and have the experience and skills necessary to manage the daily activities of a construction business, including field supervision, or be represented by someone (a “qualifying individual”) with the necessary experience and skills.
  • EDUCATIONAL STATUS: There are no educational requirements to qualify for a contractor license. You may receive credit for technical training, apprenticeship training, military training, or education instead of a portion of the required four years of practical experience. At least one year must be practical experience. You do not need to attend a license or exam preparation school to get your license.
  • EXPERIENCE:  At least four years of journey-level experience is required to qualify for the exams. Credit may be given for experience as a journeyman, foreman, supervising employee or contractor in the classification for which you are applying. There is a non-refundable $330 fee for an original application and a $200 initial license fee for one classification. The application fee for each additional classification is $150. The license must be renewed every two years; the renewal fee is $400.
  • TESTING, TESTING:  An examination is required.  The qualifying individual (either you or your representative) must pass both the written law and trade exams unless they meet the requirements for a waiver. CSLB schedules exams after the application is submitted, reviewed, and accepted as complete.

For more information about becoming a California licensed contractor, and to view CSLB publications and forms including the annual California Contractor License Law & Reference Book, visit their website at www.cslb.ca.gov.

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