featured image for article on how to get a C-13 fencing license in the state of california

Contractors that hold the Fencing License have huge income potential within the construction industry as their services are almost always required in some form.

Fences may be constructed using the following materials:

  • Wood 
  • Chain Link 
  • PVC
  • Iron 
  • Plastic and Vinyl
  • Metal and Steel

Fencing is a commonly utilized service, as most areas in the western world use some form of fencing to distinguish property ownership.

Fencing Contractors that are licensed can quickly build a business at scale offering a necessary service to millions of homeowners.

This article will provide you with every single detail you need to know about how to get the Fencing License in California and what you should know before you submit an application to the CSLB.

What Is a C-13 Fencing Contractor License?

A fencing contractor constructs erects, alters, or repairs all types of fences, corrals, runs, railings, cribs, game court enclosures, guard rails and barriers, playground game equipment, backstops, posts, flagpoles, and gates, excluding masonry walls - CSLB.GOV

The C-13 License is the classification required in the state of California for all persons looking to bid on residential, commercial, or industrial Fencing projects where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

Duties of Fencing Contractors

  • Erecting or repairing: Guardrails, Barriers, Gates, Playground Equipment and flag posts.
  • Site planning, preparation, measurement and estimation
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    Installing posts, poles and digging holes
  • Working with various forms of metal and wood including vinyl, chain link, wood, steel and iron
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    Maintaining a safe job site
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    Purchasing and selecting materials
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    Preparing bids, accounting, and invoices

Residential fence contractors may engage in projects as simple as repairing a chain link fence or digging a hole for a flagpole.

They may design and erect iron gates that extend for miles.

Commercial fencing companies may design large complex fencing systems and also offer maintenance services on a continued basis.

A fence company with the proper licensing may offer a variety of different services.

Their duties may also include planning and estimation cost of materials, cost per square foot as well as assessing environmental and job site safety.

CSLB

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

The Contractors State Licensing Board is the governing body for all tradesman in the state of California.

The CSLB's 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 Fencing License is issued to fencing contractors by the Contractors State License Board.

The CSLB administers applications, exams, and maintains a database of all active and inactive contractor license numbers which are public domain. 

Fencing Subcontractor 

In many cases residential fence contractors that hold the C-13 Fencing license work directly with a homeowner or companies to complete a specific task like installing or repairing a fence that surrounds a home or commercial building.

However, they may also function as a subcontractor to a General Contractor and continually working on multiple projects over an extended period of time. 

General Contractors oversee that the C-13 Fencing Subcontractor has not only executed his duties up to code and to safety standards, and in many cases to the specific request of a client.

Learn more about the General Contractor License.

Construction blue print, pencil and a metal ruler. Blueprint reading is an important skill for anyone looking to get the C-13 fencing license

It is critical for fencing contractors looking to get the Fencing License to be able to read drawings, symbols, and identify specific dimensions on construction blueprints to execute their job duties safely.

Proper job site planning and measurement is a critical part of the job for fencing contractors.

The ability to quickly interpret construction blueprints and execute your duties accurately is an invaluable skill for all tradesman but especially for fencing contractors.

Access the Free Blueprint Reading Course

Containing lead paint when making any alterations to a home or fence built before 1978 are also critical skills for the fencing contractors.

Understanding the health effects of lead paint and proper procedures to contain or remove it are valuable skills for all tradesman working in a residential or commercial setting. 

Positioning yourself as the expert and a source of information for your clients is very important in creating repeat business. Learn how to get an EPA Certification in 1 day!

How to become a Fence Contractor 

To get a C-13 Fencing License in California, 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 #
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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

What is Journey Level Experience?

Typically residential wooden fence surrounding a house

Journeyman level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full time for a fencing company, or for a contractor that holds the C-13 License.

  • A journeyman fencing contractor 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 Fencing license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-13 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 C-13 Fencing 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:

“Greg is a great guy and has a lot of experience building fences…”  will not be enough information for the CSLB.

 The CSLB will want to see something like:

"Greg has built, installed and repaired wood, iron, and chain link fences. He has installed security gates and locks" etc.

Work Experience for the C-13 Fencing 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.

  • Tax Returns
  • Check Stubs
  • Contracts
  • Material Order Invoices or Receipts
Tall metal fence

There is a possibility that the CSLB will ask you to submit documentation supporting your fencing 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.

Fencing License Application, 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-13 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-13 License.

I have personally helped individuals 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 and Forgery.

Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into 4 categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license except the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam in addition to the California LAW examination which is the same for all licenses.

The Exam will consist of:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
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    115 Questions on Fencing
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    3 hours to complete each portion
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    Multiple Choice exam done on a computer
  • Closed Book
  • Taken on site at a CSLB Test Location

C-13 Fencing License Exam

The Fencing (C-13 License) Examination is divided into four key sections:

1. Planning and Estimation (32%)

  • Planning fencing projects
  • Reading and interpreting plans
  • Estimating fencing projects

2. Preparation and Post Installation (23%)

  • Determining posthole dimensions
  • Post and concrete footing installation
  • Job site lay out and marking
  • Post and concrete footing installation

3. Fence and Gate Installation, Maintenance, and Repair (32%)

  • Chain link fences and gates
  • Agricultural fences and gates
  • Wood fences and gates
  • Ornamental fences and gates
  • Vinyl fences and gates
  • Metal cable fences and gates

4. Safety (16%)

  • Personnel safety
  • Environmental safe
  • CAL/OSHA Procedures

CSLB Test Locations

Currently there are CSLB testing facilities in the following cities:

  • 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 must wait three weeks before retaking the state exam ( $60 per retake ) A 70% score will be required to pass.

Learn more about the Contractor License Exam: LAW Portion

C-13 Fencing License Exam Preparation

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
image for a blog post about choosing a contractor license school

Being prepared is the most important thing you can do in ensuring your success on the contractor license exam.

Studying C-13 license test questions a long with explanations and diagrams for as little as 10 minutes a day is a small investment to make, but will increase your likelihood of success.

Make sure you read this, before choosing a Contractor License School!

Fencing Apprenticeship

Black steel fence with green forest in the background

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to obtain a C-13 fencing license, not to worry.

Your journey begins here. The construction industry is a trillion-dollar industry, and a highly skilled tradesman are always in demand.

Whether you are brand new to the industry, have dabbled over the years or are coming back and want to brush up your skills, there is a myriad of resources available to help you learn the basics or get up to speed. 

Generally someone looking to become a fence 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.

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