how to get your awnings license in California through the CSLB

Awnings Contractor: C-61 / D-3 License

Table of Contents

What is a C-61/D-3 Awnings Contractor?

A large canvas awning outside covering a sitting area next to a body of water

An awning contractor installs, modifies, or repairs aluminum, metal, vinyl, or canvas awnings and patio covers. These installations can be either freestanding or attached to a structure. Patio enclosures or carports are not included in this classification” – CSLB.GOV

The D-3 license is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to bid on all projects involving awnings where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

C-61 Limited Specialty Classification

The C-61 Limited Specialty License is an umbrella term for all licenses that may fall under a more obscure category of construction work.

They cover specific areas of construction and construction-related tasks.

If your skillset or business is limited to one particular portion of trade work, you could obtain a C-61 limited specialty license to contract over $500 for your services legally.

Duties of an Awnings Contractor

Awnings contractors engage in a wide variety of duties which include:

  • Design, installation and repair of awnings and patio covers
  • Working with various types of materials including aluminum, vinyl, metal, plastic, canvas and wood
  • Graphic designs, lettering and logos
  • Taking measurements and ordering materials
  • Design, installation and repair of walkway canopy, gazebos and cabanas
  • Erecting tension structures and retractable awnings
  • Estimation, cost calculation, bidding and accounting
  • Light carpentry 
  • Ensuring a safe job-site

Awnings Subcontractors

Awnings contractors typically work directly with small businesses or homeowners.

However, they may also function as subcontractors as part of a larger construction project.

In a construction setting, a General Contractor hires an awnings contractor. Perhaps a client has specifically requested a customized awning as part of their construction or remodel.

As a result, a general contractor ensures that the awnings contractor completes their duties adhering to safety codes. Learn more about the General Contractor License!


Logo for the Contractors State License Board. illustration includes a paint brush, cement truck and hand saw with the letters CSLB above in white

The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California. Their sole responsibility is to protect the consumer public. 

They ensure that anyone charging over $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state.

The C-61 / D-3 awnings contractor license is issued to contractors by the CSLB. 

EPA Certification

Logo of the United States Environmental Protection Agency

When making alterations to or around structures built before 1978, contractors must know how to contain lead paint if it is present.  

Lead paint can travel miles through air, rest on soil, and enter air ducts causing potentially fatal respiratory damage.

Awnings contractors looking to build profitable businesses must position themselves as experts and the authority within their industry. 

Tradesman must be a source of information for their clients and community if they want referrals and repeat business. Learn how to get an EPA Certification in 8 hours!

Blue Print Reading Course

featured image for a blog post about how to read construction blueprints for awnings contractors

It is critical for awnings contractors to be able to read designs and symbols on construction blueprints.

If installation or repair is part of a larger project, being able to execute their duties within the larger scope of the job is essential.

Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a structure must be built in addition to the materials required. 

They also communicate what materials were used for its construction. Reading blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesmen but can be especially important for awnings contractors.

Check out our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

Online Practice Exams and Study Guides

C-61/ D-3 Awnings Contractor License Requirements

Awnings contractors in California must prove a minimum of 4 years of journeyman-level experience and pass a law exam.

To qualify for an exam date you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Driver's License or USA Issued Identification
  • Have a Social Security or ITIN #
  • Not Currently be on probation or parole

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience 
  • A Certifier sign off on your experience
  • A way to prove your experience if the state asks for documentation

What is journey-level experience?

image of several contractors working to hold up

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for an awnings company, or for a contractor that holds the D-3 Awnings License.

  • A journeyman can perform all of the duties associated with his or her trade.

The CSLB will want to see four full-time years over the last ten years. The years do not need to be consecutive, but they do need to be four years in total. 

Signature of a Certifier

The following people may act as a Certifier when applying for your Awnings Contractor License

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61 / D-3 Awnings Contractor License Holder
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • Union Representative

How to fill out the Awnings Contractor License application

In addition, your Qualifying Individual will need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skill set. The way this description is written is critical to whether or not your application gets accepted.

For example: 

“Bill and his team were excellent, they have done various projects for us” is not descriptive enough.

 The CSLB will want to see something more like:

“Bill installed retractable awnings, patio awnings, he worked with canvas, vinyl, aluminum, and metal awnings” etc.

Most importantly, the description written by your qualifying individual has to include the core skills required by an awnings contractor.

Work experience for the Contractor License

A simple vanilla awning commonly found in a residential home. An Awnings Contractor will need to prove work experience

You must be prepared to submit documentation supporting the experience you claim to have. The Contractors State License Board gives you a few ways that you can prove your experience which include:

  • Tax Returns
  • Check Stubs
  • Contracts
  • Material Order Invoices or Receipts

The CSLB  receives thousands of applications per month so there is a good chance they won’t document your experience but if you are one of the applicants that get reviewed you will need to be ready to submit something. 

The CSLB does not accept pictures of projects.

Application Processing, Fees, and Criminal History

The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year.

Typically you can expect:

  • 6-8 Week Application Processing Time
  • 3-4 Week wait for an Exam date

I have seen some situations where applicants got their test date sooner and somewhere they got their test date much later.

The most common reasons your application would get held up are:

  1. Time of year (processing time slows down during the holidays) 
  2. Criminal History 
  3. Proving Experience
  4. Mistakes on your application 

State Fees

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractor's License with a Felony in California?

a picture of a wooden gavel. when applying for the scaffold contractor license, you should be 100% honest about your criminal history because you will be required to do a background check

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting an Awnings contractor License. I have personally helped guys with all types of criminal records obtain multiple licenses.

The key is, to be honest on the application, even if the felony or misdemeanor happened years ago and even if it was expunged.

See the CSLB's verbiage below:

Just because you have been convicted of a crime does not automatically mean
your application will be denied. CSLB's Criminal Background Unit (CBU) reviews
all criminal convictions to determine if the crime is substantially related to
the duties, qualifications, and/or functions of a contractor. Since no two
conviction records are the same, they are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The
criteria used by CSLB include whether the crime shows the present or potential
unfitness of an applicant or licensee to perform the functions authorized by
the license in a manner consistent with the public health, safety, or welfare.
In addition, CSLB reviews and considers any evidence of rehabilitation
submitted by the applicant or licensee. Please see the above link to the
California Code of Regulations sections 868 and 869 for more specific
information on the criteria for determining substantial relationship and

Learn more about the Background Check Process here:

BE 100% HONEST ON THE APPLICATION, because they will see everything anyway when you do fingerprinting. The CSLB handles criminal records on a case-by-case basis.

Remember, their responsibility is to protect the public. Typically the CSLB is most concerned with Fraud, Embezzlement, and Forgery.

The C-61 / D-3 Awnings Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) C-61 / D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license except the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam. C-61 Classification licenses do not have trade portions.

You must only pass a LAW exam.

The exam is:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 3 hours to complete
  • Multiple choice, taken on a computer
  • Closed Book

The Law and Business Examination is divided into eight major sections:

1. Business Organization (13%)

  •  Company organization
  •  Project organization
  • Advertising and Subcontracting

2. Business Finances (15%)

  • Cash management
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes
  • Financial reporting

3. Employment Requirements (20%)

  • Hiring Employees
  • Employment regulations
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll

4. Insurance, and Liens (12%)

  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Business Insurance
  • Liens and other remedies

5. Contract Requirements and Execution (21%)

  • Bidding
  • Cost control
  • Project Organization
  • Contracts
  • Payments

6. Public Works (5%)

  • Prevailing Wage Requirements
  • Bonding Requirements
  • Insurance Requirements

7. Safety (15%)

  • Training and reporting requirements
  • General safety
  • Hazardous/unknown materials

Learn more about Contractor License LAW!

Recommended Resources

CSLB Test Locations

The CSLB has exam centers all over the state of California. Once your
application is approved you will be given a list of locations you can go and
take the exam based on your zip code.

These are proctored facilities with cubicles where you take the exam on a
computer. The computer will have a calculator for your use. You will not be
able to bring in a phone, notes, or personal calculator to the exam center.

The CSLB allows you to bring a pre-approved translator with you.

The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to the exam.

You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ($100 per retake). 

California Contractors License Exam Prep

a blueprint with a pencil and wooden ruler

  • Getting your awnings contractors license is a smooth process if you have the right information. 

  • It can be confusing to see un-familiar terms used to describe tools or job site practices. The Contractor LAW exam covers a number of different topics.

  • Questions are presented to you as if you are running a large scale remodeling business with multiple employees.

  • Being prepared and knowing what to study is the most important thing you can do in ensuring your success on the contractor license exam.

Construction Apprenticeships

If you do not have the experience required to get the C-61/D-3 Awnings Contractor license, not to worry! Your journey begins here. Generally, someone looking to become an awnings contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship to find an experienced person to work with.

For a detailed explanation of this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman!

OSHA Certification

featured image for a blog post about OSHA certifications

Occupational Safety Hazard Association

Statistically, 21% of all work-related fatalities are in construction.

That equals about 1 and 5 worker deaths on average. 

Professionals in the landscaping and tree removal industry must take pre-caution to prevent falls and injury.

Awnings Construction can be dangerous, especially if your workers are not properly trained. For employment with a tree removal contractor, you may be required that you have completed some level of OSHA training.

 Learn more about OSHA Training!