featured image for a blog post about how to get the C9 drywall contractor license in California.

How To Become a Drywall Contractor

Man carrying a large rectangular piece of gypsum board beginning the drywall process

To get a C-9 Drywall Contractors 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 get an exam date you must meet the 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 #
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    Cannot Currently be on Probation or Parole

You must also have:

  • 4 Years Journey Level Experience
  • Have a Qualifying Individual to sign off on your Experience
  • A way to prove experience if the State Board asks

Journey Level Experience

Man installing gypsum board on a construction site un-supervised

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a drywall company, or contractor that holds the C-9 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 drywall contractor license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-9 License Holder
  • Fellow Employee (within the last 10 years)
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    Current or 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

Proving Your Work Experience for the C-9 License

  • 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.

Filling out the Drywall Contractor License Application

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.

“Tim is a nice guy and has installed drywall…”  will not be accepted

 The CSLB will want to see something more like:  "Tim has attached drywall ceilings, solid partitions, installed laminated drywall, metal door frames, and single-layer walls."

What is the C-9 Drywall Contractor License?

Duties Associated With The C-9 License

Some of the duties of Drywall Contractors include:

  • Installing Ceiling Assemblies and Trims
  • Selecting and Mixing a variety of compounds
  • Sanding, Finishing and preparing Tape Surfaces
  • Ultimate Goal is to produce flat wall and functional surfaces

Drywall Contractors also assess plans, perform mathematical calculations and choose material components for  projects.

They also install various types of wallboards and are expected to adhere to strict EPA standards during the installation and disposal process. 

Drywall Subcontractors and the General Contractor License

a drywall contractor installing a large piece of gysum board.

Drywall Contractors that hold the C-9 License often function as an independent unit subcontracted by a General Contractor to perform specific duties associated with a construction project.

The state exam for General Contractors includes questions about drywall installation.  

It is a critical skillset for anyone overseeing a full construction or remodel project. 

  • Laminated Drywall
  • Attached Drywall Ceilings
  • Solid Partitions
  • Metal Framing
  • Single layered walls

The General Contractor reports directly to the client and is in charge of the overall project and its day to day operations, including subcontractors and job site safety.

To learn more about the General Contractor License, check out this article.

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-9 Drywall License

The Current CSLB fees are: 

Can you get a Contractor License with a Felony in California?
Blue computer scan of a fingerprint

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting a Drywall 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 
  • Forgery

In the state of California, you are required to divulge any criminal charges when applying for any state license even if they have been expunged.

You will need to be prepared to submit anything they ask for regarding your criminal history. 

Drywall Contractors License Test

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering                            (LAW + TRADE EXAM )

2) B-General Building                                     (LAW + TRADE EXAM)

3) C-Specialty Classes                                    (LAW + TRADE EXAM )

4) C-61/D- Limited Specialty                     (LAW TEST ONLY EXAM)

The Concrete License (C-9 license) Examination is divided into five sections:

  • 115 Questions of Contractor LAW
  • 115 Questions of Drywall
  • 3 Hours to Complete Each Portion
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    Multiple Choice Exam on Computer
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    Closed Book

The Drywall Contractor License (C-9) test is divided into five key sections:

1.    Planning and Estimating (20%)

  • Evaluate plans and specifications
  • Estimate and perform mathematical calculations
  • Evaluate material specifications

2.    Preparing for Installation (14%)

  • Evaluate job site readiness
  • Manage materials on the job site
  • Layout various assembly types
  • Install metal framing systems
  • Install backing

3.    Install Drywall, Ceilings, and Related Materials (28%)

  • Install various ceiling assemblies
  • Install standard wallboard assemblies
  • Install fire-rated wallboard assemblies
  • Install specialty wallboard assemblies
  • Install trims
  • Repair damaged drywall systems
  • Follow EPA and CalGreen requirements for waste disposal/recycling

4.    Finishing (22%)

  • Select and mix various compounds
  • Prepare and tape surfaces
  • Finish and coat surfaces
  • Sand and/or sponge wallboard
  • Select level of finish
  • Texture surfaces

5.    Safety (16%)

  • Apply personal safety procedures
  • Apply job site safety procedures
  • Operate tools and equipment safely
  • Handle and dispose of products safely
  • Work safely at elevated heights

Free C-9 License Test Sample Questions

1. Which of the following is the MOST likely to cause high joints?

a. There is high humidity

b. There is low humidity

c .The mud is too thin

d. The mud is too thick


2. How many square feet of wallboard are needed to cover both sides of a wall that is26 feet long and 14 feet high?

a. 364 square feet

b. 546 square feet

c. 728 square feet

d. 736 square feet


3. For safety, what should be done when there is a break or change of elevation of18” or more in a hallway floor?

a. Postpone work until the stairway is constructed.

b. Provide a warning sign at least 8” x 10”

c. Provide a ladder, ramp, or temporary stairs

d. Provide caution tape barriers

Preparation For The CSLB License Test

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

I have helped all types of construction professionals from various backgrounds and experience levels get licenses.

Most are startled by how different the subject matter on the state exam is from their years of first-hand experience. 

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-9 License test. 

CSLB Test Locations

Contractors State License Board Logo. Paintbrush, saw and cement truck
  • Berkeley
  • Fresno
  • Norwalk
  • San Jose
  • Sacramento 
  • San Bernardino 
  • San Diego  
  • Oxnard

Drywall Apprenticeship

If you don’t have the four years required journeyman level experience to obtain the drywall contractor license, not to worry.

Your journey begins here!

Construction is a trillion-dollar industry and highly skilled drywall tradesman are always in demand.

Whether you are completely new or have some experience already, there are resources available to you.  

Generally someone looking to become a drywall contractor would want to look into an apprenticeship  or certification program.

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

Blue Print Reading Course

Construction Blue Print and a Metal Architect scale

The drywall phase of the construction process is important to the overall structural integrity of a building. 

Having a deep understanding of blue print reading  is an invaluable skill. 

Being able to quickly interpret construction blue prints is a core skill for everyone, including drywall contractors. 

Blueprint Reading Skills are also critical to pass the General Contractor exam.

Check out this Blue Print Reading Course for a basic introduction to the concepts you will want to know about.

EPA Certification

Logo of the united states environmental protection agency

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

The most profitable drywall 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.  

For a complete guide on how to get the EPA Certification, check out this article.

Contractor Classes

If you have ever looked into getting a Contractor License, chances are you have been bombarded with offers and courses from Contractor Schools all saying they can help you pass on your first try.

You may have asked yourself if it’s even necessary to go to a contractor license school.

What do you learn? How can they help me? Or maybe is this a scam?

If you have looked into choosing a Contractor License School in the past, this information will help you greatly!

Conclusion

Getting the C-9 Drywall Contractor License can be a huge step up in your career if you are looking to start your own company, begin taking on larger clients 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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