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"A refrigeration contractor constructs, fabricates, erects, installs, maintains, services and repairs refrigerators, refrigerated rooms, and insulated refrigerated spaces, temperature insulation, air-conditioning units, ducts, blowers, registers, humidity and thermostatic controls for the control of air, liquid, and/or gas temperatures below fifty degrees Fahrenheit (50 ), or ten degrees Celsius"- CSLB.GOV
Refrigeration Contractors generally engage in wide variety of duties including:
In many cases, refrigeration contractors work directly with homeowners, restaurants, or supermarkets.
However, they may also function as a sub to a General Contractor executing refrigeration duties over an extended period of time.
General Contractors oversee that the refrigeration subcontractor has done their job up to code and in adherence to environmental standards.
Learn more about the General Contractor License!
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is the governing body for all contractors in the state of California.
Their responsibility is to protect the consumer public and ensure that anyone charging over $500 for refrigeration services is qualified and registered with the state of California.
The C-38 License is issued to refrigeration contractors by the CSLB.
The State Board:
Understanding how to safely contain lead-based paint when altering structures built before 1978 is required by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The most profitable refrigeration 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!
Being comfortable with construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but is especially important for those looking to get the C-38 license.
See our Free Blueprint Reading Course!
Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a structure must be built as well as what materials are necessary for its construction.
It is critical for plumbing contractors to be able to read blueprints or at least be able to recognize lines and symbols.
To get a C-38 license in California, you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman level experience and pass a two part state exam with the Contractor State License Board.
To qualify for an exam date you must meet the the following requirements:
You must also have:
Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a refrigeration company, or for a contractor that holds the C-38 License.
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.
The following people may be used as Qualifying Individuals to sign off on your experience when applying for the C-38 license:
Your Qualifying Individual will also need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skillset.
The way this description is written will be critical to whether or not your application is accepted. For example:
If all you write is:
“Ed is a great guy, he has fixed many refrigerations” it wont be enough.
The CSLB will want to see:
"Ed has installed walk-in coolers, motors, thermostats, and fans. He has maintained motors, freezers, fans, electrical wiring and done troubleshooting for various types of refrigeration systems".
The description written by your qualifying individual will need to include the core skills required a refrigeration contractor.
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.
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.
The time it takes to get your application processed and assigned a test date fluctuates throughout the year.
Typically you can expect:
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:
The Current CSLB fees are:
Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a C-38 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.
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 or Forgery
The exam will be:
For more information on what will be on the Contractor LAW exam click here
Content of the Examination the Refrigeration (C-38 license) Examination is divided into five major sections:
1. Planning and Estimation (18%)
2. Installation of Refrigeration Systems (31%)
3. Repair of Refrigeration Systems (18%)
4. Maintenance of Refrigeration Systems (19%)
5. Safety (14%)
Learn more about Contractor License LAW
Some things to remember:
I have helped people from all over the country get the refrigeration license in California. Many are startled by how strange the questions on the exam are.
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.
If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level plumbing experience to get a C-38 license, your journey begins here.
Generally, someone looking to get into this trade would begin by finding a union or plumbing apprenticeship program
For a detailed explanation on this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman!
Getting the C-38 License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to start your own refrigeration company or become an RMO!
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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