• Highly skilled masons can be some of the highest paid tradesmen in the construction industry. 
  • Local Masonry Contractors often times serve a segment of the public that has considerable wealth to maintain or restore historic pieces of architecture. 
  • Masonry Contractors that are organized and hold the C-29 license can become key power players in this billion-dollar industry.
construction worker laying brings

Highly skilled masonry contractors have unlimited income potential

In this article we will breakdown everything you need to know about how to get your C-29 License!

What is a Masonry Contractor?

Duties of a Masonry Contractor

Masonry contractors generally engage in a wide variety of duties including:

  • Creating concrete block walls, laying clay bricks, concrete steps and stone panels
  • Brick Restoration
  • Designing fireplaces, chimneys, and barbecues 
  • Using stone, gypsum, and rebar
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    Building and repairing retaining walls, and laying clay bricks
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    Maintaining a safe job site and disposing of contaminated materials
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    Reading Blueprints
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    Estimating, bidding, accounting and basic book-keeping

Masonry Subcontractor

man holding a red hard hat and tool belt

General Contractor

Contractors that hold the masonry license can work in a variety of settings. However, most general contractors will seek professional masonry services for their expertise in:

  • Brick and Stone
  • Chimney and Fireplace construction

A General Contractor ensures that the masonry contractor has executed their duties adhering to CAL/OSHA safety standards. 

Check out this article for an in-depth look at the General Contractor License!

The CSLB

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

The C-29 License is issued to masonry contractors by the CSLB.

They also:

  • Administers examinations
  • Processes applications
  • Maintains a database of active and inactive contractor license numbers
  • Conducts sting operations targeting un-licensed construction activity

Blue Print Reading Course

blueprint sample with a pencil and ruler

Blueprint Reading is an essential skill for masonry contractors

It is critical for masons to be able to follow specific designs and blueprints.

Correctly identifying exterior elevations, site works and specific lines or drawings that may indicate placement of concrete blocks is fundamental.

The ability to quickly interpret construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but is especially important for masonry contractors. 

Blueprint Reading Skills are also critical to pass the General Contractor exam. See our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

How to get a Masonry License

To get a C-29 license in California, you must meet the following basic requirements:

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

You must also have:

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

What is Journey Level Experience?

man measuring and cutting bricks for placement

Journey level experience is gained working un-supervised full time performing all duties associated with the masonry trade

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a masonry company, or for a contractor that holds the C-29 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 Qualifying Individual

The following people may be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the C-29 license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-29 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
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    Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
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    Business Associate
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    Fellow Journeyman
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    Union Representative

Filling out the Contractor License Application

Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your masonry knowledge and skillset. The way this description is written will be critical to whether or not your application is accepted.

For example:

“Ted is a great guy, he is always on time and has done masonry…”

will not be accepted by the CSLB


The CSLB will want to see something like: 

"Ted has selected brick and or block, erected barbecues, laid foundations, erected fireplaces, chimneys and done extensive cavity wall masonry"

Work Experience for the C-29 Masonry License

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.

a brick chimney on top of a roof in the day time

You may be asked to provide documentation of your masonry experience

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

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 some where 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 

Application Costs for the Masonry License

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractors License with a Felony in California?

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-29 Masonry 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.

a gavel and law books, when applying to the CSLB for your C-29 masonry license, it is advisable that you are 100% honest about your criminal record, because it will all be revealed when you do fingerprinting

Be 100% Honest on your application for the Masonry License

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. In my experience, they primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with: 

Fraud, Embezzlement and Forgery.

C-29 Masonry License Exam

The masonry license exam will consist of:

  • 115 Questions of Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions on masonry
  • 3 hours to complete each portion
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    Multiple choice exam done on a computer
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    Closed Book

TRADE Examination

The C-29 masonry license examination consists of seven major sections:

1.    Planning and Estimation (12%)

  • Scope of work
  • Identify and calculate material needs
  • Identify and calculate labor and equipment needs

2.    Job Site Preparation (24%)

  • Pre-construction activities
  • Water management
  • Reinforcement and bracing
  • Job site preparation

3.    Masonry Wall and Building Installation and Repair (16%)

  • Build CMU walls and buildings
  • Repair and reconstruct historical masonry structures
  • Build and repair retaining walls
  • Clean masonry walls and buildings

4.    Decorative Masonry Installation and Repair (10%)

  • Install flatwork and staircases
  • Install precast masonry
  • Install glass block
  • Repair and clean decorative masonry

5.    Masonry Veneer and Stone Installation and Repair (8%)

  • Install adhered veneers
  • Install anchored veneers
  • Install dimensional stone veneers
  • Repair and clean veneer installations

6. Fireplace, Chimney, and Barbecue Installation and Repair (11%)

  • Fireplace construction requirements
  • Barbecue and fire pit construction requirements

7. Safety (19%)

  • Cal/OSHA safety requirements
  • Elevated work
  • Handling and fabrication of stone slabs
  • Disposal of contaminated materials
CSLB Test Locations

Currently the CSLB has testing locations in the following cities:

logo of the contractors state license board, which is the governing agency for masonry contractors in california and issues the C29 masonry license

Contractors State License Board

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass both examinations
  • You will be assigned a testing location based on your zip code 
  • You must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ( $60 per retake )
  • A 70% score will be required to pass
  • You can bring a translator

Learn more about Contractor License LAW!

Masonry License Exam Prep

Getting your masonry contractor license can be a smooth process if you have the right information. 

Some things to remember:

  • The questions you will see on the exam may use outdated terms
  • Processes may be completely different from how things are done on the job site
  • You will see questions about things you may have never done before
  • Questions will be presented to you as if you are running a large scale construction business with several employees and jobs happening all at once. 
  • Know all aspects of your trade

Be as prepared as you possibly can. Studying just 10 mintues a day consistently can dramatically increase your chances of passing the test on your first try.

Focus on and study ONLY the information that you need to pass the C-29 Masonry License

cobble stone wall. studying 15 minutes a day in preparation for your masonry contractor license exam is recommended

The Masonry License exam will have a total of 230 questions

Masonry Apprenticeships

Tool covered in cement after paving process

A masonry apprenticeship is an excellent way to begin your career

If you do not have 4 years journeyman level experience, not to worry, your journey begins here!

Generally someone looking to become a masonry contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship or find a skilled tradesman to learn under. 

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

EPA Certification

Understanding how to safely contain lead-based paint when altering structures built before 1978 is a requirement by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The most profitable masonry contractors are ones that position themselves as the experts and are the most knowledgable and helpful to their clients. 

Becoming EPA Certified can help you expand your business and can be completed in a one day 8 hour course.

Staying EPA compliant is not only important to the survival of your business but also the safety of your customers.  Learn how to get an EPA Certification, in 8 hours!

Logo of the united states environmental protection agency. Knowing how to safely contain lead paint when executing your masonry services is very important

Environmental Protection Agency

OSHA Masonry

Statistically, 21% of all work-related fatalities are in construction. That equals about 1 and 5 worker deaths on average. In the construction industry, the leading cause of worker deaths is reported as falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in/between.

image of two contractors working up on a high building beam. 18% of the masonry license exam includes questions about OSHA safety

Occupational Safety Hazard Association

The CSLB places a specific emphasis on masonry contractors staying compliant with OSHA. Safety represents 18% of the Masonry License Exam.

Learn more about OSHA Training!

Conclusion

Getting the C-29 Masonry License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to start your own company or become an RMO for an existing firm! The key is to take action and follow these steps from beginning to end. 

If you have found this article helpful feel free to drop a comment below and be sure to check back for updates!

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