how to get the garage doors license in California complete guide breaks it all down

How to get a Garage Door License: C-61/D-28

Table of Contents

Jobs You Can Do With a D-28 License!

What is a C61 / D28 Doors, Gates, and Activating Devices Contractor?

A doors, gates, and activating devices contractor installs, modifies or repairs all types of residential, commercial or industrial doors including overhead or sliding door assemblies. This includes but is not limited to: wood and screen doors, metal-clad doors, glass sliding/stationary doors and frames, automatic revolving doors, hospital cubical doors and related installations, power activated doors, gates, movable sun shades/shutters, card activated equipment and other access control device and any low voltage electronic or manually operated door hardware/ device“- CSLB.GOV

The C-61/D-28 License is the classification required in the state of California for anyone looking to contract for projects involving doors, gates, and activating devices where the cost of labor and materials exceeds $500.

C-61 Limited Specialty Classification

The C-61 Limited Specialty License is an umbrella term for all licenses that may fall under a more obscure category of construction work. They cover specific areas of construction and construction-related tasks.

Often if your skillset or business is limited to one particular portion of trade work, you could obtain a C-61 limited specialty license to contract over $500 for your services legally.

Typical duties associated with the C-61/D-28 License

Two contractors both wearing blue installing an electric garage door

In my experience, the majority of tradesmen getting the C-61/D-28 license specialize in garage door installation.

However, the classification covers a few areas of expertise.

Typically referred to as the garage door contractor license, some of the duties associated with the C-61/D-28 include:

  • Design, installation, repair, and modification of garage doors
  • Designing electronic activating devices and low-voltage wiring systems
  • Light carpentry and metalwork
  • Electronically and manually operated gates
  • Installation of movable sun shades and shutters
  • Fabrication and installation of doors made of wood, metal, aluminum, and glass
  • Bidding and cost calculation
  • Blueprint reading, estimation, and accounting
  • Maintaining personal and job site safety
  • Commercial Door Installation

Door Subcontractor

Due to the nature of the trade, garage door contractors typically work directly with businesses or homeowners looking for customized doors, gates, or activating devices.

However, they may also function as subcontractors as part of a larger construction project.

In a home remodel setting, a General Contractor may subcontract someone holding the C-61/D-28 license specifically for their expertise with garage doors.

As a result, a prime contractor ensures that garage door services are executed to code. Learn more about the General Contractor License.


Logo of the contractors state license board. Illustration of a paint brush, hand saw and cement truck with the letters CSLB above in white

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.

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

The CSLB maintains a statewide task force that engages in sting operations to stop unlicensed construction activity.

Getting caught contracting without a license in California is punishable with fines up to $15,000 and 6 months in the county jail. 

The CSLB issues the garage doors contractor license to contractors in the state of California.

EPA Certification

Anyone making alterations to a home built before 1978 should have an EPA certification

When making alterations to structures built before 1978, garage door contractors must know how to contain lead paint if it is present.

Knowing the correct procedures required by the Environmental Protection Agency is critical for tradesmen working in residential and commercial settings.

Lead paint can travel miles through air, rest on soil, and enter air ducts causing potentially fatal respiratory damage.

 In addition to holding the C-61/D-28 license, garage door contractors must position themselves as experts and the authority within their industry.

Contractors must be a source of information for their clients and community if they want referrals and repeat business. Learn more about the EPA Certification for Lead Safety

Blue Print Reading Course

Two contractors inspecting a blueprint

Tradesman looking to get a garage doors contractor license must be able to read designs and symbols on construction blueprints.

If the services offered are part of a larger project, being able to execute their duties within the larger scope of the job is essential.

Construction blueprints communicate important information about how a structure must be built in addition to the materials required.

They also communicate what materials were used for its construction. Reading blueprints is an invaluable skill for all tradesmen but can be especially important for someone offering garage door services.

Free Blueprint Reading Course

How to get a Garage Door License

To get the C-61/D-28 license you must prove a minimum of 4 years journeyman-level experience and pass a law exam.

To qualify for an exam date 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 #
  • check Not Currently be on probation or parole

You must also have:

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

What is journey-level experience?

a hand holding a key card next to a card activated device

Journeyman-level experience means that you have worked unsupervised full-time for a garage door company, or for a contractor that holds the D-28 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 Certifier

The following people may act as a Certifier when applying for the garage doors contractor license:

  • Licensed General Contractor
  • C-61 / D-24 License Holder
  • Former Supervisor (within the last 10 years)
  • Fellow Employees (within the last 10 years)
  • Business Associate
  • Fellow Journeyman
  • Union Representative

How to fill out the Contractor License application

  • In addition, your Qualifying Individual will need to provide a brief but detailed description of your knowledge and skill set.

  • The way this description is written is critical to whether or not your application gets accepted. 

For example:

“Felix knows is a great guy, and knows a lot about doors” is not the type of description you want to put on the application

The CSLB will want to see something more like:

“Felix has designed, installed, and repaired various types of power-activated and manually activated doors. He has experience with garage doors, gates, movable sunshades 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. They include:

  • 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 somewhere 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 

State Fees

The current state fees are:

1. State Application Fee (one-time fee per application sent to the state board )

2. License Activation Fee ( paid every two years )

You will also need to pay for live scan fingerprinting. 

Construction Bonds 

Upon passing the exam, the state board requires you to have a Contractor Bond number

A construction bond is a security deposit issued by a surety company. Bonds are designed to protect the consumer public against contractor default.

They act as protection mechanisms for clients from unethical or illegal actions performed by contractors. Bonds also ensure that subcontractors get paid for their work.

Furthermore, they ensure or that a contractor performs his duties as stated in a contract.

Construction bonds protect employees, suppliers, sub-contractors or clients against a contractor's failure to abide by an agreement.

Learn more about look at Construction Bonds.

Can you get a Contractor's License with a Felony in California?

An image of a fingerprint on a white background with small red squares around it

Having a criminal record in no way stops you from getting the garage door 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 are primarily concerned with criminal charges associated with:

Fraud, Embezzlement, and Forgery

In my experience, the CSLB is primarily concerned with criminal charges dealing with fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and financial-related crimes.​

If your conviction does not fall under these categories most likely, you will have no issues when applying for the C-61/D-28 license.

Be prepared to submit any court documents or prove rehabilitation at the state’s request. California requires you to divulge all criminal charges when applying for a state license even if they have been expunged.

The Contractor License Exam

Contractor licenses are broken down into four categories:

1) A-General Engineering

2) B-General Building

3) C-Specialty classes

4) C-61 / D-Limited Specialty classes

Each category of license except the D-Limited Specialty license class requires that you pass a TRADE exam. C-61 Classification licenses do not have trade portions. You must only pass a LAW exam. The exam is:

  • 115 Questions on Contractor LAW
  • 3 Hours to complete
  • Multiple choice, taken on a computer
  • check Closed Book

The Law Examination is divided into eight major sections:

  1. Business Organization and Licensing (13%)
  • Company organization
  • Licensing requirements
  • Advertising and subcontracting

  1. Business Finances (15%)
  • Cash management
  • Budget and planning
  • Taxes
  • Financial reporting
  1. Employment Requirements (20%)
  • Hiring employees
  • Supervising and training employees
  • Evaluation and record-keeping
  • Payroll
  1. Insurance and Liens (12%)
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Business insurance
  • Liens and other remedies
  1. Contract Requirements and Execution (21%)
  • Bidding
  • Cost control
  • Project organization
  • Contracts
  • Payments
  1. Public Works (5%)
  • Prevailing wage requirements
  • Bonding requirements
  • Insurance requirements
  1. Safety (14%)
  • Training and reporting requirements
  • General safety
  • Hazardous/unknown materials

Learn more about the: Contractor LAW exam!

Recommended Resources

CSLB Test Locations

The CSLB has exam centers all over the state of California. Once your
application is approved you will be given a list of locations you can go and
take the exam based on your zip code.

These are proctored facilities with cubicles where you take the exam on a
computer. The computer will have a calculator for your use. You will not be
able to bring in a phone, notes, or personal calculator to the exam center.

The test is not available online. The CSLB allows you to bring a pre-approved translator with you.

The CSLB will grant you 18 months after your application is accepted to pass the law test.

($100 per retake). 

California Contractors 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

I have helped all types of construction professionals from various backgrounds and experience levels get licenses, and 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 minutes 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 Contractor License LAW exam

Construction Apprenticeships

An electronically activated gate, similar to the ones found in large mansions

If you don’t have the 4 years required journeyman level experience to get the garage doors contractor license, your journey begins here. 

Construction is a global industry that offers unlimited income opportunities.

Whether you are brand new or worked for a door construction company in the past, there are books and courses available in most cities and online to get you up to speed.

Someone looking to get into the trade should absolutely consider a construction apprenticeship. 

After completing your program and gaining the necessary 4 years of journeyman level experience, you would then be able to apply for the C-61/D-28 license.

For information on courses in your area or books to get you on the right path click here. For a detailed explanation of this process, check out my article: Apprentice vs Journeyman.