Sheet metal Contractors are highly skilled tradesman that specialize in the fabrication, shaping, and installation of various types of sheet metal including:

  • Kitchen Equipment
  • Flashings 
  • Vending Machines and Filing Cabinets
  • Roofing Systems
  • Gutters
  • Leaders 
  • Cornices and Pans
  • Machinery Guards
  • Flues and Downspouts
  • Wall Coping
  • Exhaust Systems
  • Ventilators
  • Soldering 
  • Conveying and Heating Ducts 

The skillsets associated with the sheet metal license are always in high demand.  

In this article you will learn everything you need to get the C-43 Sheet Metal License and how to fill out the California State License Application.

What is a Sheet Metal Contractor?

"A sheet metal contractor selects, cuts, shapes, fabricates and installs sheet metal such as cornices, flashings, gutters, leaders, pans, kitchen equipment, ductwork (including insulation, patented chimneys, metal flues, metal roofing systems and any other installations requiring sheet metal)"- CSLB.GOV

The C-43 license is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to bid on fabrication and installation of sheet metal projects where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

Duties of a Sheet Metal Contractor

The C-43 license can cover a wide range of areas within the metal production that a company or contractor may specialize in. 

A laser cutting machine cutting a large piece of metal creating alot of sparks

Sheet Metal Contractors engage in a wide range of specialized duties

Many sheet metal fabrication companies may work exclusively in an industrial setting.

However, the products that are created by the process of sheet metal fabrication are present in many forms within a residential and commercial setting as well.

Typically their duties include:

  • Fabrication, installation and repair of various sheet metal products
  • Operating laser cutting, metal processing machines and press breaks
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     Installation of metal roofs and gutters
  • Estimation and cost calculation
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    Selecting, cutting and shaping of sheet metal
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    Bidding, accounting and creating invoices
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    Maintaining job site and equipment safety

To get the sheet metal license, you will be tested on all aspects shaping, cutting and fabrication of sheet metal products.

Sheetmetal subcontractors

Sheet Metal Contractors typically work directly with clients to create metal products. The C-43 license is typically held by sheet metal fabrication company that engages in contract work.

In some cases a Sheet Metal company may be hired by a General Contractor that has placed a bid on a project that includes some kind of specialized metal production. In this case, the General Contractor would oversee the project from start to finish. Learn more about 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 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 Sheet Metal Contractor License is issued to contractors by the CSLB.

Logo of the contractors state license board. illustration of a paint brush, saw and cement truck

Contractors State License Board

In addition to licensing, they also:

  • Administers Exams
  • Processes Applications
  • Maintains database of active and inactive license numbers
  • Engages in Sting Operations targeting unlicensed Construction activity

How to get the Sheet Metal License

To get a C-43 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 a Journey level experience?

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a sheet metal fabrication company  or someone that holds the C-43 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. 

a construction worker with protective gloves using a welder to cut a large piece of sheet metal. Journey level experience is required for anyone looking to get the sheet metal license

Journeyman level sheet metal experience is a requirement for the C-43 license

Signature of a Qualifying Individual

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

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-43 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 Sheet Metal License Application

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:

Writing: “Ralph is a great guy, he has done various metal fabrication projects for us” will not be descriptive enough.

 The CSLB will want to see something more like: "Ed has installed gutters, flashings, metal roofs, ventilators. He has done soldering and can identify sheet metal symbols, locks and seams" etc.

Work experience for the Contractor 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 construction worker wearing protective gloves cutting a piece of sheet metal with scissors

The CSLB may request to see documentation of your sheet metal experience

  • 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 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 C-43 Sheet Metal 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-43 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 wooden gavel

Be 100% Honest on your C-43 License Application

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.

California Contractor License Exam Prep

The exam will be:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions on Sanitation Systems
  • 3 hours to complete each portion
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    Multiple choice exam done on a computer
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    Closed Book
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    Possible to re-take if you fail

Content of the Examination

The Sheet Metal License Examination is divided into four major sections:

1. Planning and Estimation (27%)

  • Review project information
  • Site evaluation
  • Cost calculation

2. Preparation, Fabrication, and Storage (15%)

  • Layout and material calculations
  • Fabrication methods
  • Storage requirements

3. Installation (28%)

  • Gutters and downspouts
  • Flashings
  • Hoods and exhaust
  • Metal roofs, siding, and paneling
  • Specialty items and miscellaneous

4. Safety (30%)

  • Job site safety
  • Personnel safety
  • Equipment safety

CSLB Test Locations

Currently, there are CSLB testing locations in the following cities:

  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Oxnard
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • The Contractors State License Board will assign you a testing center based on your location.
  • The state exam is not available online.
  • You are allowed to bring a pre-approved translator with you.
  • The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass both examinations.

Learn more about Contractor License LAW!

Sheet Metal License exam prep

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

The C-43 Sheet Metal License exam will have 230 total questions

I have helped sheet metal contractors from all over the country get licensed in California. Many are startled by how strict the laws are here. 

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-43 License.

Sheet Metal Apprenticeships

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to get a C-43 license, your journey begins here.

Metal Construction is a global multi-billion dollar industry. Generally, someone looking to get into this trade would find union or apprenticeship program.

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

a computer based sheet metal shaping software

A sheet metal apprenticeship is an excellent way to set a solid foundation for a career as a sheet metal contractor

Blueprint Reading Course

a sample blueprint with a ruler and pencil

Blueprint Reading is an essential skill for sheet metal contractors

  • Sheet Metal Contractors must be able to read construction blueprints or at least be able to recognize basic lines and symbols.
  • Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a structure has been built as well as what materials are necessary or have been used for its construction.
  • This can include installation or assembly of metal products.

Being comfortable with construction blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but is especially important for those looking to get the C-43 license. See our Free Blueprint Reading Course!

OSHA

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.

Sheet Metal Fabrication can be very dangerous, especially if your workers are not properly trained. For employment with a sheet metal contractor you may be asked to complete OSHA Training. Learn more about OSHA Certification.

featured image for a blog post about OSHA, sheet metal fabrication can be very dangerous if you are not trained properly

Occupational Safety Hazard Association

Conclusion

Getting the C-43 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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